Healing In Nature


I slowed to a stop, taking a moment to admire what was in front of me.

She raised her head, stared at me, and then turned and walked off the trail into the woods. Pulling out my camera, I videoed her walking by me, keeping my eyes on her the whole time. Her figure became less as the moon became brighter, to a shadow, and then disappeared. A misfortune that the video didn't record correctly. Or was it? I remembered what Raptor had told me about being present without a camera; he was right. I would remember this memory. I came out of the Elkwallow wayside with a brown paper bag of food and a blackberry milkshake. The picnic tables were full of families and other AT hikers. I saw a nice grassy area to sit in and was heading over when a voice called out, "You look like a hiker; always room here." I sat with him, and we talked. He asked me what I was doing out there, and when I explained my reasoning, I received a counter perspective than I was used to. "Nature is not healing; it destroys our bodies," he pulled out a half-smoked cigarette and lit it. As he smoked, the toxic smell filled the clean air. Instantly, back to my childhood, I recalled how my parents would ask to move tables at a restaurant if a customer was smoking at a table nearby. I thought of my grandfather and how he struggled with addiction to alcohol and cigarettes for years. My father's words pierced my memory. Seek the outdoors as a natural high instead of drugs, the art of finding healthier, wholesome ways to fulfillment. Blackberry Milkshake and a Burger I first started to engulf in unhealthy coping mechanisms before I was even aware I was doing us. I started drinking alcohol at the age of fifteen. I went home from boarding school for Christmas break and went out with a group of people I did not consider my friends. My friends from my hometown did not like partying, so I decided to socialize with a different group. The last memory of that night was chugging a handle of vodka in the kitchen of someone's home I did not know. The next thing was waking up in a hospital bed, my mom sitting by my bedside, asking what I could recall. She told me they had to pump my stomach and that I could have died. I remember wanting to die.

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