This music accompanies these words:
I’ve been back in Athens for a month and a half now.
I moved out of the woods and into the city on January 3rd. I started graduate school on January 6th.
I’ve picked up my martial arts again, I’m fumbling through homework, tests, quizzes, and time management. I’m spending inordinate amounts of time on the internet. I’m once again sucked in by Netflix.
Sitting in traffic for 15 minutes to get to Kroger 5 miles away is the norm. I don’t wave at every car or truck I pass anymore, because I’d be waving all the time (and not in the cute, Southern way). I spend the majority of my weekdays in an office with no windows, staring at two computer screens.
My respite comes when I walk to and from the bus stop, or go to martial arts or church, or see people who stop in for my desk-corner-chocolate. Every weekend chance I get, I spend outside.
Those eight months in the woods spoiled me.
It’s fascinating to me that almost a year ago, I wrote in “The Lull” that I was not ready to move into the woods, that I was loathe to leave this city I love so much. In truth, part of me is excited to be back. It’s fun to be able to eat any kind of food you want, whenever you want, and see whatever you want to see. It’s nice to take a stroll through North Campus, downtown, and the Founder’s Garden. It’s good to be close to my friends, my martial arts–the people I was terrified to leave behind.
But I can’t help but yearn for the woods, the solitude, the simplicity.
There are always distractions: things to keep you from doing your work and focusing on your priorities. It’s just that in Athens, or in any proper city, the distractions are flashier and much more insistent.
I find myself wasting so much time on Facebook, taking personality quizzes, or quizzes that tell you what Disney princess, sidekick, villain, couple, or theme song you are.
Really?? Are those things enriching to my life in any way, or important to my work, my maturation, my character, or my future? Nope. Nope, they’re not.
Some might argue that tromping through forests, hanging out on rivers, sitting in a deer stand, climbing rocks, sleeping under the stars, hiking mountains, wandering through planted pine, or making campfires aren’t any of those things either, but they sure seem a lot more wholesome.
You learn a lot more about your God, yourself, your responsibilities, your place in the world, and your world by actually being in it. You learn about history: not just through books, but through experiences, through the people you meet and the woods through which y’all walk.
I have found that the type of person that is just as willing to do those things with you as they are willing to get dressed up and hit that trendy Thai restaurant (which is still delicious), is the type of person who is also willing to listen to your internal struggles, your future aspirations, your fears, your dreams, your hopes, your beliefs.
That person is the one who will ask you the tough questions, but also be comforting; who will sit still, soaking in the beauty of this Creation, but who will rustle up plenty adventure. That person is the one who doesn’t have to be tied to a city, or set or “habitat requirements” to be tied to a friendship.
I have begun to notice more and more that it is this type of person I find myself drawn towards, I find myself striving to become.
Maybe I’ve read too many westerns.
Truth be told, things are not as simple as they once were. Even in my young 23 years I can attest to that.
But I cannot help but feel that the complexities of today are merely accessory to the necessities of yesterday.
Having wifi is nice. Having this wireless mouse for my laptop is handy. Having an extra monitor for my laptop is exciting. Having a USB “powerstrip” (adds 4 more USB ports to my computer) is super cool. But these aren’t the things that make a person, or shape a person. Not this person, anyway.
They are no replacement for exploring, questioning, tromping, falling, struggling, and persevering in this great, big, scary world God has given us to look after.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this:
I miss the simple woods. Not because of the freedom in the workday it gave me, or the pretty landscapes constantly surrounding me, but because of how much the woods broke me down, tried my patience, stretched my abilities, and gave me the opportunity to praise God in the storms and in the sunshine.
Here in the city, I know He is present, but I admit, these flashy distractions keep my mind drifting.
Out there, in the rawness of His Creation, I cannot help but see His mighty hand. I cannot help but see His Simple, most profound, Gifts.