I’ll Take the Forest

Forest. One of my favorite places. Sgeoil posted about this just yesterday, writing that the woods are where she feels most at home. I agree.

However, today’s prompt reminded me of an experience that illustrated that each person has a different comfort zone. This episode occurred long ago, the summer of 1978. I was living and working in Chicago, and many of my friends were first year med students. That summer, many of them were doing a variety of medically related activities, often shadowing a doctor or working in a health related field. A number of them were on the east coast for the summer.

I took a vacation trip out east to visit. I drove my unairconditioned Dodge Colt to New York City, where I spent a few days visiting with Beth, who was working in some clinics in Greenwich village. She introduced me to the gritty world of SROs and the challenges of providing care to the addicted and destitute. After a few days of this, we met up with Rhoda, (it was Rhoda’s guitar that the baby Waldo and Susie used for a slide) a Brooklyn native, and then we drove up to New Hampshire to visit Joel, who was spending his time working with a rural family physician.

We arrived at Joel’s place at the edge of the woods towards evening, unpacked my car and had some dinner. Then Joel asked if anyone wanted to go for a walk. I eagerly agreed, loving the smell of the pines and the whoosh of the wind in the trees, delighting in bing able to see the stars in the night sky. My Colorado self was relaxing for the first time in days. Rhoda, on the other hand, exclaimed in horror “Are you nuts–its so dark out there!” Without the familiar bright lights of the city, she felt in danger. I was struck then by the contrast of our two experiences. My nervous system was feeling at ease, at home, and Rhoda’s was on high alert, in both cases informed by past experiences superimposed upon the present, and from that reaching two opposite conclusions.

Me, I’ll take the forest.

Forest“>Forest

6 thoughts on “I’ll Take the Forest

  1. Great post! It is so true how we all have our own sense of place. Some of my colleagues here on the prairies feel suffocated when they spend too long in BC mountains, where I, like you say, fee most relaxed. p.s. Thanks for the mention.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve expereinced something like that a few times with people from crowded places who end up feel terrified in big open spaces or night that is truly dark. I understand it intellectually, but I still feel a little sorry for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Likewise. Its understandable, and they can miss something truly wonderful. In fact there a studies that show a significant drop in stress hormones, etc when city folk get some time in the forest. Heard a little about this on NPR earlier this week, and have more to learn.

      Liked by 1 person

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