Forest II

~ tales from a mysterious, melancholy, and meaningful forest

Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 16— Mine Your Own Material

Story inspired by poem, “Stranger on the path

{Silent Strides}

I stride along the silence of this pathway. The mind is massing and the steps are the solace. This is why I’m here, in the forest. At least, this is what I believe to be the truth. Sunlight streams through the canopy of my reverie. Stopping for a moment, I let its warm glow reflect upon my face. My eyes close and the path illuminates further. I can almost feel the peace. But before giving it the careful consideration it deserves, it escapes my grasp. It’s like searching for this great star; you can only see the shape of the noonday sun when looking in its near periphery. Staring directly blinds you to anything of note, and it harms the eyes severely to boot. So given these conditions, when sun-gazing… wait, what was the point of that? I have continued walking, mindlessly. Dammit! This is supposed to be meditative. I pick up my pace, eager to be free from these expectations, from anything at all. My hands reside in my pockets now. The breeze picks up, the leaves swirl around me in furious antagonism, the sun is suddenly shaded by a cloud. I look upon it. Dark and ominous. Distracted, I almost trip. I drag my feet now with indignation. when will this trail get off?

~ photo source

{Parallel Path}

Shadows befall the forest in an overcast. The wind is low and my spirits are too. The change was immediate. I am surprised by this swing, but no longer distracted. Even in the darkness, I can see, and I see something, in the distance. It is getting nearer. A person, not a beast. I am relieved. But there’s still something about it giving me hesitation. I have an urge to depart the path, to break off into an ancillary route, if at all possible. But it’s clear, there is no room to walk there, or there. There is only one way forward. So I keep on it. And it’s getting closer now. My imagination continues to boil as I approach this stranger. I didn’t want to interact with anyone, not here, not on this day. No way around it now. I face up with this daemon of the forest. Each of us walk with purpose into each other’s midst. Here, being we can see the matter more closely — we are revealed. Gazing with nerves in riot, I see myself. My own self, my face. The features are there, clear as day. We circle around, unspeaking for many moments. It is the same face, in consternation. A pale mirror would do an injustice. In my own observation, I am slow to react and the recognition is reciprocated. We stop, together now.

“Well —

“Well —

“I —

“I —

“How about we go about this better?”

“Go about what?”

“Whatever it is that’s supposed to be happening here?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean…

“When you run into your doppelganger.”


“Well —

“Well —

“How about telling me where you came from.”

“I came from up there.”

“Well, I came from back this way.”

“How’s your walk been?”


“Good. It was so nice, just a moment ago-

“Then something changed.”

“Some thing changed.”

“What’s that bag you’ve got?”

“Oh, it’s an R200. Holds the water-

“Yes. I thought about that one. I got the-

“S300. I recognize it.”

“So. Did you cross the Castor upon your trail?”

“No, actually it winds back over the Pollux.”


“Didn’t have that luxury. But refilled my water just the same, used a purifier.”

“Good call.”

“So why today?”

“Why today? I needed it.”

“I would have to say the same.”

“That doesn’t make it easy.”

“No. It hasn’t been. It’s so hard to just take in nature, have it mean something to you.”

“It’s a strange experience, without doubt. But I find when I am out here, I can just walk it off.”

“Walk it off?”

“Yeah. Just walk into mindlessness.”

“Or maybe it’s mindfulness.”

“Which is preferable?”

“Ha, I think that’s what I’m doing.”

“Trying to figure that out, aye.”



“It’s been a pleasure.”

{Stranger Self}

I shake his hand, and we continue on our separate ways, resolving without an explicit word to such an accord. But we knew it to be time. It was terse, maybe it had to be. We may never have that opportunity again. And yet, we can’t find much to say to one another. It didn’t seem right. But I am fairly certain it was only ever going to play that one way. Whose to say it was right or wrong? Seemed wrong to measure under those conditions. Besides, what was supposed to be conveyed? What was that guy to me? Should I presume to believe I was to receive something of value? Or perhaps give something. Well, thinking about it now — we each knew what lay ahead for one another. In one sense, we could’ve provided some advice, given we’d just trekked from the very land they now headed into. Remember to watch your step there / mind the dip / look for sign of danger here, easy to miss. But they could go off the path. They could choose not to listen. This other might want to learn the hard way. And why deprive them of the useful pains of first-hand experience? Short-term loss turns to long-terms gains, or something like that. Am I envious? Hard to say. Maybe, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m any closer… to anything after my time here. I need more time…

Before I realize it, I can see I have walked to the end. The end of the trail. The sun’s back, but lower, more steady, crimson. I slow my strides, and then seize my footfalls, the first steps I have noticed since the encounter. I actually miss the cloud. Strange. I stand upon the threshold back to reality. In a return to silence. I gather what’s necessary before falling back under the wheel. Stranger yet, I take a few steps back into the forest, without conscience. Feeling it to be vital, I try to culminate the journey, concisely as I can:

Whomever he was, he wasn’t me.

Now, I can keep walking. ~

~ photo source