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.