Fear, and the Forest

Today I’m celebrating: Conall’s biopsy results cleared him of cancer.

Eleven days I waited for the results, living with fear. Did he have cancer? Or something else? I dreaded the wait. I tried to remain positive and distract myself – and usually succeeded briefly by taking both dogs into the forest – but always, at some point in each day, looking at my happy-go-lucky dog, I wondered: What will our lives look like if the news is bad?

dog on snow
Conall enjoying snow and sun in the yard, March 17, 2020.

When I received the good news this morning an invisible weight lifted from my shoulders. But rather than doing a happy dance, I felt…exhausted. Finally, I could let my guard down. My hyper-vigilance of the past three weeks since Conall’s issues started, watching for any sign he wasn’t feeling well, can finally stop.

Fear does that to you. Wears you down, mentally and physically.

But I don’t need to tell you that. We’re all of us, around the globe, living in fear these days. The not knowing where, how, or for how long we’ll be fearing the coronavirus. Exhausting.

So I’m truly grateful that this one significant chunk of fear is lifted from my shoulders.

To celebrate, I want to share with you the natural world that lifts my soul. Come along with me, let’s take in the beautiful landscape together, virtually. Imagine breathing the fresh cold mountain air, laughing at my dogs’ antics as they dash ahead, listening to the songs of birds in the tall trees and the crunch of our feet on snow as we move through the forest. Let fear and worry fall away, at least for the time it takes you to scroll through this post.

I’m exceedingly fortunate; even before the pandemic I rarely saw other people in the forest near my home, so – for the time being at least – it’s not off-limits to me and my dogs. Most of these photos were taken while playing in the forest the past few days, early in the morning as the sun worked to rise above distant peaks or break through clouds to brighten the snow-covered landscape. (Yes, it’s still winter here in Idaho’s mountains!)

Oh, and some quotes. I’m a quote nerd. I chose quotes about dealing with fear, and the healing power of nature and forests. No surprise that many quotes come from the Stoics.

trees, snow, dogs
Dogs following critter tracks in the snow, April 1, 2020.

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live. –Marcus Aurelius

Do not fear to lose what needs to be lost. –Sue Monk Kidd

Follow us! So much to discover! April 1, 2020.

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. –Aristotle

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.  –Marcus Aurelius

morning sun through trees
Early sun breaking through forest trees.

Silence is a source of great strength. –Lao Tzu

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away. –Marcus Aurelius

What saves a man is to take a step. And another step. –Antoine de Saint-Exupery

forest, snow, dogs
Hush and wait.

Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you. –Walt Whitman

This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before. –Maya Angelou

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better. –Albert Einstein

snow, trees
Tracks in the snow.

Nothing is permanent in this crazy world, not even our troubles. –Charlie Chaplin

Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight.  –Marcus Aurelius

If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence, we could rise up rooted, like a tree. –Rainer Maria Rilke

forest vista
Distant mountain peaks floating among clouds.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. –Aesop

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. –Maya Angelou 

The moon and Venus at sunset
The moon and Venus at sunset, February 26, 2020.

Never go too long without watching a sunset. –Atticus

Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes, every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man. –Orison Swett Marden

dog on snowy trail
Taking it all in, April 2, 2020.

Forever – is composed of nows. –Emily Dickinson

And here you are, living despite it all. –Rupi Kaur

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. – John Burroughs

sun, snow, trees

Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over. – Guy Finley

Allow things to come and go, keeping your heart as open as the sky. –Lao Tzu

trees, snow, sun

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – Plato

At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough, and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey. –Lemony Snicket

snow, trees, path
Follow the path.

Missing from the life of modern man is the deepest connection with the changes of the seasons, sunrise and sunset, the phases of the moon, the dark forest, the soul of brother animal, and the soil. Man’s soul is starving from this separation, lack, and poverty. –Marie-Louise Von Franz

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness. – John Muir

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. –Rachel Carson  

snow, trees, dog

The mountain’s face lifted me higher than itself. A song’s wink aligned me with joy. And a tune paradise hums I came to know. The forest, letting me walk amongst its naked limbs, had me on my knees again in silence shouting – yes, yes, my holy friend, let your splendor devour me. –Hafiz

Be still, and the earth will speak to you. –Navajo proverb

The snow is melting into music. –John Muir

snow on table, clouds

And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. I would not change it. –William Shakespeare, in As You Like It

You can destroy your now by worrying about your tomorrow. –Janis Joplin

For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver. –Martin Luther

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. Plato

Proving Plato right, I offer this video of music-making from around the globe.

Please, be happy, be well, be kind, be safe.

18 thoughts on “Fear, and the Forest”

    1. No. After 10 days on antibiotics the mass was still there, thus the surgery. Turns out it was inflamed tissue from a ruptured anal sac, not a tumor. The antibiotics likely kept it from creating a terrible infection, though. Glad your cats are doing well. It’s so hard when our pets can’t tell if or when something’s wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was unfamiliar with Marcus Aurelius so thank you for the education. I’m surprised your woods aren’t overrun with people. The foot and bike traffic in our park has increased eight-fold.


    1. I’m surprised as well, although it’s never truly crowded. I think it’s so empty now only because this is our shoulder season, with trails still under snow but ski resorts closed. I’m concerned what May might look like.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Outstanding post, Rebecca! Thank you for the excellent news about Conall and the rich collection of wise words. I enjoyed each and every quote, took them slow and felt a beautiful peace overtake my own space. The song at the end was also a wonderful reminder of the strong ties that bind us to so many people around the world, the trials and challenges we all face and the determination, resilience and strengths that we all possess but sometimes forget. Your amazing photos complimented everything so well too. Bravo!!

    You made my day! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so happy to hear the good news about Conall! One less load off your mind among many others. Thanks for taking me along on your journey. I yearn to get out there again. Can only do so many backyard hikes before the lust can no longer be sated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me, too, as you can imagine!

      I keep reading about people running marathons in their back yard, or on their balcony, because their race was cancelled, so you’re in good company, but I doubt they run a second marathon that way!

      Liked by 1 person

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