I have always, always battled with anxiety. That tight feeling comes up into my chest and from there scoops me up and squeezes me until I feel like I am fighting for each breath. When I was a little girl, I used to run out into the woods behind our house for hours. I would gather sticks and leaves and mushrooms, and make tiny knome houses and pretend to be their leader. I would dig my fingers into the clay of the tiny creek's walls, and build tiny bowls and plates and have tea parties all by myself. I would throw my shoes off, so that I could feel leaves crunching under my feet and gather soft dirt between each of my toes. I could breathe out there, and I never wanted to leave that safe place that I had made for myself somewhere between reality and my imagination.
When I was a teenager, I kept my tradition and whenever life got a little too hard I would run as fast as I could to the forest. Usually with my camera in hand, I would balance on fallen trees and lay on my back looking up at the scattered pieces of tree and sky. I would wade knee deep in the creek and collect pebbles or snail shells. I would dig in the dirt and sometimes, pull out blue or green glass bottles who had hidden there for years undisturbed and seen things that I would never know about. I would think about how perfect it would be to live so far away from society, with a soul mate who I had yet to meet. How freeing it must feel to hunt for every meal and work together with nature rather than against it.
But I always had to leave that space; I always had to come back to society.
And now, as a twenty-something, I find myself in the middle of a city. Rather than living in a mountain cabin, I find myself in an industrial loft filled with busy people and too many cars. I love my life, but I can't dissapear into the forest whenever things get hard anymore. First, I have to go to work and clean the house and wash the dishes and feed the dogs and go to sleep and then get up and do it all over again. I have to face life head on, and confront that tightness in my chest -- running from it does not make it dissapear for long.
But when there is time (and there usually is), I am able to pull myself up and out the door and across the bridge until I am right there, right where I need to be. I take off my shoes, and jump from rock to rock to rock until I am on the river's edge. And this is where I do my best thinking. This is where I dream about where I want my life to go and which path I am meant to follow. And while I am laying there, in the middle of nature, I feel accepted and I feel that I am enough. And those are the moments that keep me going, because those are the moments that have always kept me going.