Spending 17 years locked in the urban areas of Malden, I thought I had experienced a splendid life. For 17 years, I was taught of the advantages of the constant urban expansion. They tell me that life is more convenient in the city, that life is better-rounded in the city, and that life is more enlightened in the city. I realize now that I have been blinded by these teachings that I neglected the simplicity of life.
In the woods is where life is simplest; where one sees a variety of living organisms. In the midst of peaceful and fresh air, there’s a red bird flying by, there’s a black butterfly flying low on the ground, there’s an injured owl hiding by a tree, and there’s me watching all of this in awe. I look around again and I see burnt trees on the ground. Walking in the woods for two weeks made me feel as if I am one of the living organisms, and it pains me to know that large business owners are constantly trying to expand into the little rural areas that we have. It leaves me speechless to realize that I was one of the teenagers of this generation who have never seen the beauty of nature all of these years and now the amount of woodlands is disappearing.
In the first few days of hiking, I was unused to the insects and muddy environment. Although I was not complaining aloud, I do admit I was inside. As days passed and I continued to enter the woods as part of my job, I grew closer with the woods and I start to enjoy the eye-opening experience each time I hike. I was able to think to myself in peace and reflect on my current difficulties looking at the vast amount of trees. Of course, I was able to do that at home in my own peaceful bedroom, but the peace in the woods is different. There are the sounds of the wind blowing the trees, chirping birds, and the cricketing sound of insects. The sounds not only helped me to relax and think but it’s as if my problems are removed and solved because I am away from the city. At moments like this, I was able to forgive and forget and also think about my future plans in life. I was never able to do that in the city because I am constantly distracted by either technology or people.
As my job nears the end, I feel that the experience in the woods is what a true well-rounded, unregretting, and englightened life is. One cannot experience life without the simple basis of life.
~Tracey Weng is 17 years old and attends Malden HS. She came to us through the Malden Youth Employment Program, and helped co-lead Babes in the Woods and Hike ‘n Seek this summer.