The summer after I graduated from seminary was when I discovered that the woods are relaxing.
Let me take a step back and see if I can explain a little better. You see, I've been playing in the woods since I was a boy. Go beside the garage, slide/walk down the small hill after the small tree right next to the garage, between the bushes. cut across Cathy's backyard to Missy Sankey's house, which incidentally is the house my mother grew up in until she was 12, where my babysitter used to live when I was very small. I tied her to a chair, but that's a story for another time. My mom tells me my grandfather Mars built the house out of a barn. She's not always perfectly accurate in her stories, though.
Run down through a backyard which may very well have been sculpted by my own grandfather that I never met, across the same yard that Mom and Uncle Ashley played in, past trees grandpa mars likely planted, and into the long grass where my mom told me snakes lived. Past the small gully where the Meanors threw all their garbage and onto the trail. Take the trail down until it emerges next to Hickory Creek. Head for the log that looked like a spaceship and skip some rocks.
So you don't have to tell me about enjoying the woods.
I loved it, but I didn't know I needed it.
You see, I was more nervous than I was aware in those days. Lots of trips to the bathroom. Enough so that I went to see the doctor and he did some tests that I'd rather not discuss, and gave me some medicine. Who knows what it was he gave me (a tranquilizer?), but it really didn't work all that well. And I had a cousin's wedding I needed to attend.
In those days my mom was living in NJ and working as a nanny. So we met in CT the day before for the rehearsal dinner or something like that. Meet and greet. Maybe it was the wedding reception. I think it might have been. Regardless, it has nothing to do with the story I'm telling.
You'd have to grill my mom to find out if she did this on purpose (doubtful) or if we just ended up walking on trails nearby because I was crazy(er) for bikes in those days and she'd visited these relatives previously and wanted to show me the trails.
But here's the thing I've been working toward. Listen up. I was so nervous that I literally felt like a had to pee constantly, and when I took those walks in the woods, THE FEELING WENT AWAY. Was it a woodsy miracle from God? In a way, sure. But not in a nature-religion kind of way.
Was it that I was distracted? Good theory, but a wedding should have provided plenty of distraction, don't you think? Yeah, me too. And it didn't.
But in those woods, I relaxed.
So you see what I mean now. I had proof- enough proof for me, anyway. And when my wife gives me THAT look, and suggests I head for a bike ride, I know that she's right. I don't just want to go for a ride. Maybe I don't even want to. But I know that I need to. And it helps on a deeper level than I realize. She swears I come back home a different person. And of course she's right- but I don't feel it on the surface of my mind. Something deeper is happening. On some subliminal level, trees do something to me.
So you see, it has nothing to do with "fun" for me- sure, yeah, whatever, the bike is fun. But if you say that to me and I have a blank look on my face, it'll be because it's so much deeper than that. I may not be having any fun at all, or I may be laughing every foot of the way. But that's not important.
This is therapy. This is medicine.
If only I could get health insurance to pay for bikes.