The voice leading the guided meditation seemed to vanish.

Just as the instruction to follow the trail through the woods was suggested to me – I realized I was there. I mean, I really was on a damp wooded path. I could smell the damp foliage and feel the cool of the shade as I passed under some larger trees.

Guided visualizations usually made me a bit nervous. I’d become distracted as I focused intently on following the directions. And doing it right. This time I slipped quite effortlessly into the experience. “Look around and see what you notice” the voice said. It was at that moment I had the vague sensation of water on my feet. “That’s weird,” I thought to myself. I looked down and saw that I was standing on the edge of a stream in a silty mix of water, rocks and leaves. All of it seemed so familiar to me.

At the end of the street I grew up on was a large vacant tract of land. There had been some buildings on it at some point but now all that was left were some sections of concrete foundation overgrown with grasses and weedy shrubs. It abutted the vast expanse of runways where planes came and went in various directions depending on the wind direction. There was a creek that ran through the land from large storm drainage pipes under the runways. The drains were large enough for my friends and I to run through (usually on dare) to spice up the humdrum of the day’s play. Mostly we played on the vacant land overrun by grass taller than we were and making the perfect cover for our pint sized escapades. That’s where we got to get away from the prying eyes of parents and their admonishments to “be careful”.

On the long summer days of school holidays a few kids from the neighborhood would meet up down at the creek. We would all sit around thinking up what to do that day. Hours of chucking rocks in the creek, walking in the creek, falling in the creek, building haphazard rafts from found materials. (They all sank!) Spontaneous rock fights would occur and I remember hearing my mother’s voice in my head when I realized that I had blood streaming down my face from where I’d hit above my eye. “Don’t throw rocks, you’ll get hurt!” How I wished to prove her wrong. And the bleeding didn’t stop as I ultimately gave in to the idea of actually going home to face her. Nothing was as painful as her wrath.

None of it dampened my spirit of adventure. Most of my activities I managed to keep on a “need to know” basis. There was the time I convinced a Boy Scout troop leader to take me to the ER without calling my mother. He had come to my aid when I’d managed to cut my leg open by putting fireworks inside tin cans and not being quite fast enough taking cover. “She’ll KILL me!” He was very sympathetic to my situation. I was already suffering, why create more? Of course when I got home with my stitched and bandaged leg there was no avoiding her. She took pity on me for once and was no doubt amused by my fear of her.

Hours of freedom in this suburban adventure ground kept my imagination fertile and fed my spirit. There I was held by the natural world, the long grass heard my secrets and whispered back to me while feeling the power of my spirit spiral through the trees. The sun and open sky witnessed me without judgment and I felt safe there. And now I was here, sitting in the quiet Adirondack woods listening to the voice encouraging me to cross that creek and follow these new stirrings of my heart.