I have been lost in a beautiful and dark forest, paving my own path with a dull hunting knife.
I cut through tangled blackberry vines, and I have gotten pricked by their thorns. I remember slaying my way through dense thickets covered in poison ivy, and dealing damage from the rashes I would scratch. I plowed through cobwebs that I did not know were ahead of me, because I could not see in the dark.
Every explorer needs a compass, but I dropped mine somewhere many Moons ago. It doesn’t matter. It never led me to the paved concrete interstate that it promised to lead me to — the clear, safe, and straight path. Failing me that, I promptly stopped using it as a strict guide for my journey. Part of me thinks the compass was broken to begin with. I was able to navigate by using clues in my immediate surroundings, and knowledge acquired from past experiences and books, in order to guess what lay ahead and which direction to go.
I should mention that this forest is on a mountain range, and the topography sometimes leads me in circles. I occasionally slip and fall, and there are tough climbs. I befriended the wildlife and survived on blueberries, walnuts, and—after crafting myself a longbow on the go—I would enjoy a seasonal, yet totally unseasoned, roasted rabbit. I think to myself that it has been so long since getting lost in this forest, that I would feel out of place elsewhere.
Perhaps I do not wish to be found, and I am prolonging my time here in these untainted woodlands, drifting aimlessly and accruing knowledge and developing unique perspectives. There is truly never a dull moment here; there is simultaneous beauty and danger of the landscape. I trek on smooth pebbles that lead me to rugged rock scrambles. I want to cross the raging, glistening blue river with sporadic currents, but fallen trees do not make good bridges. I am hungry, but I have no idea if funky-looking fungi would poison or nourish me.
By the dawn, my senses are fully quenched by hundreds of birds from a variety of species mixing their melodies. Come nightfall, and I am lulled to sleep by the orchestra of millions of insects, owls, frogs, and unidentified background rustles.
One can respect that I have survived this long, yet I could not tell you how much longer it will be. One can appreciate that I have come this far, yet I still do not know how much further I could or should go.
I wish I had brought a second compass.