I plunge downwards, through eyewashingly sunblanched meadows of chaparral and oak, foreground rendered glaringly invisible; background, a placidly aquamarine cirque, stretching outwards to rounded barrenly grassy hills; behind, a toy city. Distant background; waves, endless.
Across rocky spurs and over rounded ridgeends I run, the path a narrow chute through underbrush, living organisms invisibly vibrating through the thick brush, sparks of vitality unseen and untracked, though heard and felt and certainly wondered about. Underfoot, sharp stones and coarsely red dirt give way to the smooth, brown, aromatic richness of organic soil. Overhead, a sudden thick canopy of redgreen needles; the glare of the sun disappears as if turned off at a switch. The ground less than six feet away is suddenly obscured. Blink: musty blackened soil comes into focus, moss and ferns and everywhere massive red stumps stretching up into massive red trunks ever upwards into spreading red branches and overlappingly complex needles patterned intricately around slivers of sky. I feel submerged in a gloriously breathingly biomassive swimming pool of life, a place of boundlessly possible opportunity and growth and fecund change, the barrenly sunlit meadows behind a comparative desert of rigid, fixed, sunwashed stasis.
These meadow and redwood-laced hills, alternatively barren and lush, exposed and hidden, have been my place of weekly refuge and escape since arriving in the Bay Area – through refuge and escape from exactly what is a question I have yet to fully answer. I can’t say that I either like or don’t like living here; I am somewhere in the uncomfortable doldrums between emotions, a placidly negative space which is not bad or harmful or even unpleasant – but neither is it exciting or stimulating or full of interest and vitality and life. This is not because of the people here, or the environment or culture or anything really at all. Perhaps it’s simply where I am in life, or that I haven’t found my place or community or whatever kind of things make up a true home. I really have no idea why I feel like a snobbishly unsatisfied consumer of place, why I need to seek out change and difference and diversity wherever I go: perhaps it’s simply my way of participating in my ADHD-riddled generation, or showing my lack of attention span. What I do know is, however, is that every time I venture deep into the hills and experience the brash vast audibility of the sky meadows and damp muffled underwater soundlessness of the redwood forests – when I traverse all of these experiences and more and end up miles from somewhere, whether on a dizzyingly windy country road or even next to a suburban development of streets named after generically absent birds and trees – when I do this and eventually make it back to the city, tired, hungry, encrusted sweat covering my face, visibly pitiable, I return with spirits flagwavingly high and a heart full of hope, joy, and wonder.
Is it simply that I need to be in nature? Or that I become relaxed through movement? Or that I need to exhaust my body and mind to find some sort of inner peace? I have no idea. But regardless, these weekly random runs, route unplanned, destination to be determined, experience of place and time and surroundings and moment intensively immersively rich – are, in a place where emotion and interest and desire can sometimes seem aimless and lost, what keep me not simply going but inspired and full of wonder at the immense confusing majesty of this world.