“Deep in the forest there is something sacred that exists without a perceptible function. This is the central core, the navel of the world, and I want to return to that place.” — Hayao Miyazaki
Last month I walked through a forest with several coworkers on a group hike. One of them commented that the naked trees were spooky and reminded him of The Blair Witch Project. I looked around and saw something completely different. And two days later I doubled down on that place and hiked alone in the dark before dawn with a failing headlamp. The things we do for love.
So much of the world is what we perceive it to be. I may find tranquility in a stand of trees, someone else sees a buildable lot and the trees themselves as a commodity to haul off to the mill. America was built on such vision. Thankfully there are people who saw the land as something timeless and preserved it. Were we to level every forest where would we ever find ourselves?
The trees are beginning to leaf out in the Northern Hemisphere, transforming the naked landscape. Soon the forest will hide things that are apparent in colder months. Leaves bring deep shade and mystery to the forest. Often what we see appears distinctly different from one person to another. What the forest is really showing us is not itself, but our own nature. My hiking friend that day saw horror in the naked forest. I saw tranquility.