What does strolling in the woods – wet and vulnerable after an overnight rain – feel like?
‘Feels like heaven’ is a cliché. Also, about heaven I have only a hearsay. It’s something I may chance upon, people say, if I walk the path without going astray. (Damn! God knows I didn’t intend that rhyme scheme, but having spilled it by accident, I would rather let them stay.)
The best thing about walking in the woods is, there is nowhere to go. There is no destination. When you feel have trodden enough of the trail, when you have covered sufficient forest floor, at the point you feel you have seen enough of trees and thickets, you have soaked in silence to last a lifetime, then you turn around and slowly navigate your way out of the woods. It is like a pilgrimage. You go in loaded with sights and sounds of the world and return unencumbered. The extended metaphor in it overwhelms me. Is this what ‘vanaprastha’, defined as the third stage of life in Hindu philosophy all about?
These pine cones that I picked and brought home are my souvenirs. They are the spoils of a journey. They will remind me of many things.Of life’s layered beauty, of my vexing itch to fetch and possess (else I wouldn’t have brought them home, you see), and the fact that no matter how long you cling on to the tree, one day when you have expended your time, when you have discharged your duties, you will fall to the ground. And when I do, like these pine cones did, I hope some wayfaring angel will pick me up and embellish her room in heaven.
Probably then, if someone might ask, what does strolling in the woods – wet and vulnerable after a night’s rain – feel like, I will say,‘It feels like Heaven.’
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