I want you to experience the feelings I get when I walk through the woods of Guilford, Connecticut. I have nothing but good memories here and I think it must be the trees and the fact that this is a small town in the middle of nowhere. My grandparents lived in a small old wooden house in the middle of the woods. This is where my mom, their only child, grew up. Since, my grandparents passing this place has even more meaning to me. There are childhood memories connected to that house, the yard, and the woods surrounding. There is something about the woods, though, that doesn’t change no matter how old I get. I still get that same feeling of peace, serenity, and comfort.

Maybe I feel a sense of safety because the trees surround me and hide me from people, society, and the world. Maybe I feel comfort because the tree next to me is tall, strong, and rooted. Maybe the sense of peace comes from glancing up at the sun trickling down through the branches of the pine and oak. And maybe it is serene because when I listen careful, there is music in the trees coming from a dozen birds singing. All the trees have textured bark leading up to springs or green leaves or pine needles. It is a shadowed place underfoot, the dirt, the decaying leaves, and the green things popping up where the sun touches the earth. Observing my surroundings, I can see a squirrel or two scrambling up a nearby tree and a chipmunk peering at me through the brush under that tree. If I close my eyes I can hear myself breathe. No city noises of honking cars, hurried footsteps, and shouts. No human is around but me. I’m alone and it’s great.

The air is fresh and clean. For much of my life, overseas, I have breathed in the stench of the paper and rubber factory. My lungs suffer from some kind of damage from the smoke that clouded my house during the dry season. This is when the farmers decided it was a good idea to clear their fields with fire. It was hard to see the house across from mine; it was that smoky. But here in the middle of nowhere surrounded by pure and untouched nature I could finally breathe and I value every single breath I take. I slow my heart rate and for this moment in time I can just do nothing, be no one, and think about the here and the now. No worries, no drama, no sadness; just pure joy to be alive. That’s what my name means: Pure Joy. And that is what I feel here and now and that is why this place means everything to me.



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