I Went to the Woods Because I Wished to Live Deliberately
“The little island seemed to float on the dark lake-waters. Trees grew on it, and a little hill rose in the middle of it. It was a mysterious island, lonely and beautiful. It looked so secret – almost magic.” – Enid Blyton
My favorite book as a child was the Hollow Tree House, by Enid Blyton; and my dream job was to become a writer, and to live in a tree house when I grew up. On hot summer afternoons, I’d lie in bed and read the book out loud to my little sister, and dream of someday living in my own secret tree house.
And then I went to school and got myself two computer degrees and became a software engineer. That had seemed like the logical, grown-up thing to do. It gave me a well-paying job, put me in fancy corporate clothes, and a cool car.
Then why was my heart not happy? Why was my soul longing for something else?
The shiny things lost their luster soon enough. The glass and steel buildings were sucking my soul dry. What I needed was to get back to the earth and the trees and the water. I wanted to live like a bird, with tiny footprints, free, and flying among trees. I wanted to write for a living.
The excuses came pouring in – I have a well paying job; it doesn’t make sense to give it all up and go live in the woods. I don’t have time. I don’t have experience to write, nor did I go to school for it. Where will the money come from? What about safety and security? And can I really actually buy a house in the woods by the water?
That’s when I started to read different kinds of books – books that helped me see differently, books that helped me grow into the real person I am meant to be. I read “Self-Knowledge,” by Adi Shankara, “Walden,” by Thoreau, “The Story of my Experiments with Truth,” by Gandhi; and many, many others who braved the world to become their true selves. Slowly, the layers and masks that I had covered myself with started coming off. I was unveiling my Truth – the truth of who I am.
I know now that I’m an older soul wanting to live lightly on this planet. Those early stories were my soul’s longings to remind me of my authentic self. I learned about the Vanaprastha way of life – to retreat into the forest, to transition from my material self to a spiritual self, and to teach what I learned. That, I decided, is my path to Peace, Presence and Purpose.
On one warm July day, I bought a 100 year old little green house, set oh-so-carefully on the banks of the Octoraro river, in the folds of a forest of poplars and beeches. Here I feel like I’m cocooned in the palm of the universe. I feel like I’m in the bowl of a soft Nest In The Forest.
And then I used my computer skills to build a website and called it Nest In The Forest. I became a writer along the way – when I realized a writer simply means one who writes from heart, not necessarily one who gets published. I write everyday now, to soothe my soul, and to touch others’ souls. I write about ancient Vedic practices, from a time when wisdom meant listening to your inner self, and not gathering information. And I coach other lost souls who are longing to build their own dreams of peace and purpose.
On hot summer afternoons, I lie in a hammock in the cool woods, and reread my hard-bound copy of the Hollow Tree House that I finally hunted down at an old book barn.
What is your vision for a life of Peace and Purpose? I’d love to know in the comments below!
Photo by Agata Ryszkowska