Words have been my solace and therapy since I was young, and writing during challenging times has been a lifeline that has kept me from going over the edge countless times in my roller coaster life, and now is no different. When I need to feel, I write.
Now, it’s not necessary to pity me for being alone. Being alone is a gift for me, one I cherish immensely, as with being alone I can fully gauge what I experience and feel without the outside influence of others. I can use my senses without any input other than what I pick up with my antenna of a body from the world around me. And so alone, I head out onto the trail to begin to compose the writing assignment about sensory perception out in the woods.
My nose kicks into gear, picking up the dryness of the valley around me. Dust is kicked up as I walk; it is earthly, dense, and chalky, with hints of sage as it fills my nostrils. The air is filled with pungent pennyroyal and dry grasses with a hint of salt from the coast over the ridge. As I near a small, trickle of a stream, the aquatic aromas of algae, mud, and the damp odors that water creates take center stage over the dust. Mugwort and salvia send out a variety of medicinal smells that denote their true purpose as part of nature’s pharmacy.
With a body covered in skin that holds millions of sensors, I cannot help but physically feel the world around me. The sun’s heat versus the cool breeze. The leaves in my fingers and tree bark against my palms leave a dusty film. I feel my feet hit the ground and I notice every injury I have received over the last 5 years come shining through. I trudge on, knowing the hike will benefit me regardless.
If my heart pumped the ancient blood that carried the deeper knowledge of edible plants, I would no doubt have been able to identify more things I could survive on if need be. But still, my limited knowledge of herbs and plant identification allows me to know that I can taste the mugwort and it will be bitter but calming, that the wild amaranth drying next to the creek has seeds that pack nutrition, and that, during another season, the berry bushes I passed will eventually be filled with bright red thimbleberries, currants, and huckleberries.
Filling my senses with the world around me is my way of knowing I am part of the world itself, that I am not separate from it. Our senses are key in connecting us and solidifying ourselves in this world and with others. With all my senses in use, I am never alone on the paths I walk.
When I am in the trees, when the birds are the only creatures speaking to me, I truly relax and engage with myself more positively. The voices outside my head subside and quiet, the voices inside my head become calm and passive, and I feel at peace. Within this landscape, I am at the core source for upholding my true self.