I’m sitting here, enjoying my coffee and the bright glare of sunlight shining in the windows. While awaiting the arrival of inspiration, I’m watching the large puffs of smoke from the wood stove. Entranced as they drift downward and then appear to be marching as some ethereal soldiers into the Wood. I capitalize Wood because to me, it is not just a random few acres behind where I live. Property owned by members of my family since before I was ever imagined. Land that I wonder if my grandparents ever realized the magic it holds. (I somehow thing they did, indeed know.) I sit here now, pondering lost dreams and desires. Wondering, what if, things had been different? What if, old dreams had not been cast aside and lost?
As a youth, I enjoyed the adventures of imagination. Playing in the woods with my brothers and friends, in an abandoned freedom that has been, to a large degree, lost in this age. We were free to allow our imagination itself to run untethered. We were explorers, out to discover new lands. We were adventurers finding treasures and saving the helpless. We were, in our minds, anything and everything that we could imagine. Dreams born of youthful exuberance, and freedoms.
As a teen, I sought refuge in the Wood from the harsh realities of the world. Feelings of not fitting in with my peers drove me to seek solace where I found peace. In the Wood. There, in the quiet, was no one to judge and ridicule. There, in the magic, I felt a part. I knew the trails, the creeks, the hills. In the real world my teenage angst was constant. Here I found calm and refuge. In the Wood, dreams of peace, acceptance and understanding were real.
The me who thought to be an adult, left the Wood to find hoped for happiness in a marriage that failed miserably. The me who thought to be an adult, sheltered and naive, discovered the hard way that dreams don’t always come true. The real world, where people fight to survive and forget innocence and dreams, can be a cruel place.
When the me who thought to be an adult finally returned to the Wood, there was a cynicism that came with me. The outside world can damage a gentle heart. Even love, or the semblance of love, can do harm, that takes time to heal. The responsibilities that come with age, that fill one’s time, steal one’s energies often kill one’s dreams. Dreams, seem a folly of youth, a waste of time, when time is such a limited quantity.
The healing began, with my battle with cancer. I returned to hiking the Wood, remembering the paths and creeks that crossed over and back. I discovered again the quiet peace. I watched the birds, the squirrel, the animals that made their home there, going about their day to day. The hardness of heart, cracked just a little.
I had been writing again. I was a part of a group who submitted columns to the local paper and had gained a small following. The words flowing from that, widened that crack just a bit more.
Being part of writers groups challenged me to continue, to stretch and grow the imagination that had suffered. The long abandoned inhabitants of the Wood, dared me to write of them again. Offered the tails of the Wood in a way that would rekindle a dream of childhood.
The loss of my husband, changed my world. Even with the difficulties that come with marriage, he was my anchor. So serious, so determined to provide, so solidly planted in the real world that the imaginary seemed to be wasted time and energy. A world I had gladly adjusted to and become a part. Now he was gone and I was adrift. I was having to find a new dream, now that the happy together to a ripe old age was taken from me. I was having to seek where my dreams waited.
I again found solace, in the Wood. Even with the slight changes of time, it has remained a constant. The magic and healing peace, never leaving. I sit here, watching the soldiers of smoke march into the Wood only to disappear among the trees. Becoming one more inhabitant of the magic. One more ingredient of inspiration to remember an old dream. To pull it from the closet of my mind, dust it off and, rekindle the imagination of old dreams and make them new.