ON WALKING IN BARREN WOODS, ALONE
By Andrew Hidas
If these leaves were raindrops fallen to earth I would be slogging through mud above my shins, but dried and golden they instead yield with a delicate shrush, my only concern being to lend them my weight gingerly lest my ankle land on a hidden root or rock that sends me tumbling through the hushed forest where no other sound intrudes. Barely off the busy thoroughfare, these barren woods a sanctuary, a quietude, no engine roar nor backlit screen suggesting the constant thrum of all the otherness one shakes off one’s boots in pursuit of another rootedness, of self and silence, untethered under pure autumnal skies. This falling-fallen-decaying-renewing cycle, old as time itself, playing out from treetop to forest floor in an endless vertical loop, unmoved by humankind but subject nevertheless to its assaults. But I walk here not for plunder nor profit, but only to still the traffic of the world and my own mind, to absorb the stillness of these woods, shorn of leaf and cone, the vistas stark with denuded trees, upright, preoccupied, like Giacometti stickmen, each to its own.
The fabled still point does not hide in these woods, does not shroud itself in the come-hither distractions of commerce and transient desire. There it stands, mute and open as the breezeless air, unbowed, enduring, wholly unto itself, offering everything it has but only what it is, to anyone who approaches in the reverence it does not ask for or need yet always deserves.
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