How I Found Ultra Clarity In The Forest (Or, My Encounter With A Giant Owl)

I went into the forest to write. In this area of Tennessee, just outside of Nashville’s city center, where I had lived at the time, the fragrance of October was musty and earthen with a trace of soft tannins like cellared red wine. Even though at first I didn’t know how it worked, I did feel greater creativity while being surrounded by nature.

After a long trek, I had arrived at my spot in the woods, the spot on the top of the ridge that made a perfect destination when hiking, the spot that I had carved a heart in oak with Burt’s name and mine joined with a plus sign, a remembrance that I continued to visit even when we had been broken up, maybe to keep vigil over both the trees and love itself.

Prepared to stay for hours, I had water, a baggie of almonds, pen and paper, and even a cushion to get comfy. There was nowhere else to be and I was contented to stay all afternoon, if for nothing else than to breathe in autumn.

The forest was dense, a different world to the nearby city: no sounds of traffic, only the rhythm of a twig crackle, followed by silence, followed by a bird call, followed by silence. I ponded life, wrote about it, sat in gratitude. I suppose it could be a form of meditation, a spiritual medicine.

From inside the vegetation canopy opened a vantage point exposing rolling hills of orange and green backcountry in transition to a spectrum of monochromatic yellows and reds. I sat and admired the trees gracefully bend in the wind. I listened to the leaves dance and ruffle around in the breeze like a hundred million tiny chimes. Together the music and choreography of the spectacle was as ironic as an animated Disney classic, complete with the flitting of busy birds and lanky fawns. The chipmunks at a distant would nose their way under fallen twigs, making a ruckus louder than I would have expected from the pip-squeaks that would eventually emerge from tussled ground cover.

The whole scene was a symphony of the senses, all in harmony. The forest was alive with movement and sound; yet also quiescent and reverent. Now I was not writing or thinking; I was just being, perceiving with no judgment and not really attributing or labeling any of it with words.

I might have already been immersed for two or three hours when a shift began.

I barely took much notice when a chipmunk poked on by, about one inch from my foot, acknowledging me the way that a gentleman from 1912 would, nearly tipping an imaginary top hat.

Then slowly, I started to see the colors around me grow more vibrant. It was beyond 3D: I was seeing the forest in another dimension, popped up before me and with incredible depth. Perhaps, the wilds were exposing a forth dimension. It was not a hallucination or substance enhanced trip, not even a vision or dream—but rather a clear-headed perception of the environment around me in its raw and unmasked state.

Everything became lighter, shimmering as though I could see the actual energy field of the forest. It was ethereal and vaporous and each ‘thing’ was not a thing at all, but a fraction of something, unbound like the in-between essence of a bubble and a burst.

Just then a large body moved in my right vision. It kited on the air—with a span as wide as a car is long—slow, silent, and seemingly authoritative. The Overseer had arrived.

He was an owl: perhaps a giant owl. Without a single flap, he pulled in his wings and mutely landed on a branch in front of me, not even six feet away, and directly across due to my position on a cliff. For long peaceful minutes I remained locked on him as he went about his wide-eyed business of surveying the area with a confidence both steadfast and resolute.

Time slowed, yet I wasn’t measuring or doing, only observing and being observed.

The owl was aware that I was there, and simultaneously was neither concerned, nor bothered by me, and did not fear or avoid me.

Nature had accepted me. I knew that I was one with the forest.

It was through this visceral intimacy that I had intuited a natural process of energy balancing. My energy had become homeostatic with my surroundings. I was vibrating in harmony. In that state, I was incapable of causing discord to the energy around me; I was one with it. I felt it; the chipmunk sensed it; as did the owl.

In those moments, my energy was balanced with nature and I glimpsed an interior world.

Between A Bubble And A Burst