I write this sitting on a rock by the lake. The windblown trees and autumn-kissed shrubs sprouting from the opposite shore are perfectly reflected on the expanse of water between us. The surface is so still that the reflection looks identical to the scene above; my photos are like those crafts you do in preschool, folding a piece of paper in half and ending up with identical colourful blobs on either side of the fold line.
This view is defined by the water’s edge, the semicircle delineating between real and illusory. I need to look carefully to find the spot; when I do, it curves around either edge of my vision. Because we are on a ridge, there seems to be no world beyond the sparse layer of trees fringing this line. I feel as though we are the only people in existence, and for all I know, we are. There’s a sort of liberation to this sense: that no matter what is going on in the human constructed world behind me, at least this island of tranquility, this patch of paradise, still exists.
I tend to dislike cliches, particularly nonsensical, oxymoronic ones. But I struggle to find an accurate descriptor for the silence we are enveloped in. The only sound waves reaching my eardrums are the voices of my group cooking across the way, clearly travelled across the still water. Despite the pitch of their chatter, there’s a profound lack of noise. Here, where no cars roar by and no devices beep, the silence is deafening.
Everything is so complicated here, but in such a different way from the meaningless complications of our society. Every piece of life, from the lichen to the tallest trees, is evolved to live together in near perfect harmony. Even a plain pinecone is so complex. The geometric precision of the spiral. The number of segments comprising the whole. In the human world, our attempted complexity seems to be a realized devolution. This magical, intricately detailed and balanced miracle is put through the engine of industrialization, coming out on the other end a monotonous sludge from which we attempt to recreate beauty.
I love, love being here. It is amazing to just exist in Nature, and to cook my food and purify my water and walk to the outhouse and figure out my layers. To be surrounded by the incredible life and the lakes and the former reflected on the latter, and for me to do the same upon the former. The staggering complexity of the systems around me and the sense of being pretty alone in this pristine wild area. Why do we leave? Why go back when we can be here and now, surrounded by beauty and joy and peace?
They say all good things come to an end. For others, it seems as though the end is the good thing. To each their own but I, for one, am in no way looking forward to stepping out of the woods tomorrow and on to that bus - that piece of the real world ready to pull me back into its destructive, simplified centre.