The metaphors of city and of forest speak to me. The modern city, and its accompanying suburban sprawl, represents a diminishment of the human spirit. The forest represents the pristine nature of how we are supposed to live: in harmony and balance. It is in the forest that my spirit thrives.
Don’t get me wrong; I love what cities have to offer. I’m the first to revel in urban architecture and historic streetscapes. I enjoy the cultural and educational opportunities found in many cities, the parks, the community events, the melding of ethnicities, traditions, and food. But a little goes a long way. Many urban centers are designed to separate and control people. Frequently noisy, chaotic, and crowded they have often surrendered to ribbons of highway and chocking autos and to the moneyed interests who build towers for the wealthy.
Cities promote technology, which promised to make our lives simpler and easier but has served also to accelerate and complicate the pace of living to the breaking point of the human spirit. Modern urban life grieves my spirit. It triggers a feeling of walking as if in a dream. I am disconnected from my sidewalk companions, sensing the despair of the homeless, forced to resign myself to the disparity between rich and poor. I see suffering in people’s eyes, whether they are dressed by Kmart or Neiman Marcus, a sense of distracted anxiety, staring into the empty space of their cell phones, rushing to make or spend money. And then there are those pushed to the sides, lifting an empty cup for spare change. Too much city makes me feel incomplete, anonymous, helpless, vacant, and asleep at the wheel.
Less city, more forest, please!
When I’m in the forest I wait a few breaths and then I experience an “Aha” moment. My soul finally gets to express itself and whispers to my brain, “See what you’ve been missing!” Only then do I realize that I can have what I want ONLY when I clearly and concisely state it. And what I want is more forest and less city in my life.
I want to live in a world where all living organisms, especially we humans, work and thrive in mutual respect. Each tree, each plant, each insect, each animal, dependent on one another and on their delicate and profound spiritual ecosystems. It is in that sacred space, a continuous loop of love and life, where we find ultimate creativity and spiritual abundance.
I have learned from the forest because its energy can speak directly to my heart, bypassing my busy brain and my stressed and anxious psyche. I am automatically and directly connected with the spirit of the forest, singing its hymn of love and life, from the depths of the rich, damp humus, to the highest leaf on the loftiest branch of the tallest tree…and everything in between.
Are you too fed-up with the city and ready to change? Do you want more forest in your life? Then SPEAK it… no, proclaim it, out loud!
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Artwork copyrighted by Michael Parise