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In a Forest by Ahkward In a Forest by Ahkward
Often I find myself dreaming in my forest of lessons while I sleep. I don't talk much about this personal stuff, but I felt like sharing it tonight.

There are things that I cannot explain with myself, nor do I really seek the answers to how or why. I just know what happens and how those things affect me. For a long time I have considered myself, spiritually in the realm of Animism, though not quite. Essentially all things have soul or essence, whatever your preferred term is, and a life of its own that should be respected.

I have a feeling most of you won't even read this far. If you DO happen to read this whole thing. Thank you for proving me wrong.

I feel despite our amazing accomplishments as a species, we have slowly lost touch and connection with those things around us. People tend to see themselves above nature and the masters of it. Fitting it into our perceptions of utopian perfections without thinking of the ripple effects that come later down the line and often not caring. People will spray bugs on trees or bushes without realizing the spiders or birds that thrive on those insects will have no food, get sick or die from consuming the poison.

Then they see these things and look for more fixes, how to control this or that from a problem they caused. I see this as disrespectful to the living being you share you corner of the world with. Nobody seems to listen to those being under their feet, in their yard or above their heads. Believe it or not, you have thousands of neighbors you share it with.

I have lived in all sorts of places since my family was military as I was growing up young (family separated when I was 7 and divorced when I was 8) and afterwards my step/parents were always gone, working or whatever. We lived out in the countryside and I had nobody to go play with. No neighbors, or even my brothers. They were too busy playing videos games. I was lucky enough to be given a puppy and she and I grew up in that place, Granville, Ohio (closer to Heath though). I wasn't much of a talker back then, very quiet and I loved reading. Anyway, I spent most days outside playing in the huge fields behind our house, the corn fields, and creeks and river beds. People might call it lonely to have no people around, however between my dog and the loneliness I learned more about like than any person, any human can teach. I have recalled this after reading some of my old journals. I remember thinking these things and only now do I guess that it finally clicked as to what it meant. I couldn't explain it back then, but I knew what I felt.

The secret to life is to listen.

Now I'm sure you are saying "I already do that!". I doubt you do. In this world, there is hearing and listening, two totally separate things. Everyone can hear, something makes a noise or someone signs to you and you see it, but you either are too busy with your phone, your laptop, your own thoughts to pay attention. You filter the noise through your own perceptions and judge it and you ignore it since it doesn't align with your view of the world or topic. You ignore a plea for help from a homeless man and keep walking. You know that throwing those plastic soda rings will kill animals and end up in a landfill or ocean and never break apart or take thousands of years to do so.

You are hearing, not listening. Hearing is simply noise, something in your ear or mind begging for attention.

That homeless man is never listened to. That commercial about saving our oceans is never listened to. That friend who asked you about spending the night at your house because they are having fights at home but you were playing candy crush wasn't listened to. Those birds in your yard. Do you hear or listen to them? The insects in your garden that pollinate your flowers, fruits and vegetables. Are you listening to them? Probably not by killing them with poisons that are general killers and killing the animals that depend on those bugs to survive. You didn't listen to them either.

In my time walking through fields and forests, most of my school friends were at home playing video games, going to parties and going shopping, or playing sports. I didn't have a phone until my senior year of high school, I had games yeah, but I didn't care much for them. Still don't care too much for video games. All of those things are conversations about themselves. Video games are about how good your skill is at a certain game or task, parties are all about you being social with your friends. Sports, well, glory hounds and fitness. Working as a team or individual to gain attention. Not to put all of you down, but at the very very very bottom of it, whether you do it for the attention or for your own fun and satisfaction, it's about YOU.

One person cannot listen to himself about himself.

When you are alone outside, no phone, no music... just you and the nature, you have no choice but to listen. You hear moving grass and turn to see what it was, but just the wind moves it. You hear a bird and look up to see what kind it was or where it is. You notice a bright red or good smelling flower and follow it over to see it and get a better scent from it. You get chased by bees for being a dumbass and getting too close to a nest or despite seeing a wet log, walk across it anyway and fall in the river. Stupid. Those things are all conversations with others. The wind, the grass, the bird, the flower, the bees and the log and water. That flower didn't even say a word or make a noise, yet you paid attention to it and walked over to it to learn more about it. No words exchanged, it drew you in. That bee was not happy where you were, so it told other bees and chased you off and told you that it wasn't happy where you were. Sure, the bee is a dangerous thing. But you had a conversation.

When it comes to listening. I listen to a lot of things. Those of you who know me very very well know I have an affinity for crows. I have felt this since I was very young, about 8 or 9 and at first heavily denied it, though I felt connected. I thought it was cute and silly, and over time I have grown to take it seriously after numerous events, that if I wrote out, you'd be here another hour. xD But know that I listen to crows, to cranes, to cats and dogs, to bees and dragonflies. They do talk to you, not in obvious ways. To listen is to hear and understand. However in order to speak back you have to do other things.

1. Just put everything down and listen. No electric things. Go outside and just sit there, or lay in grass, whatever floats your boat.  Listen and don't think about anything, or imagine what that noise belongs to. Think if it as various languages. All things have their own language and masters of listening can pick up them much easier.

2. After a long time of listen watch, observe and see what is making those noises. Have you ever watched mocking birds? or grackles? killdeer or other animals. you cat maybe? Seeing there are patterns in how they act as they speak. Even people. See how listening and the seeing work together.

3. Then speak back. You cannot talk to birds obviously, but one way to offer back to them if they give you happiness is a bird feeder. Possibly you have animals? Work on your relationship with them, if they ask for pets, give it to them if possible. Of they are asking to play, respond to them and put down your phone. turn off TV, and be with them. Listen to them.

Listen to your friends, your family, those strangers around you. Everyone wants to be listened to. Don't limit it to sound, see people who cann hear, work with them and be patient if they havea  hard time, you you don't know sign language. That person bagging your groceries, listen to them and don't be rude. they might be tired after a long day, or had a bad day. Body language speaks very very loudly if you listen to it. See a person on a bus or in a store needing help, but looking around too embarassed to ask for it, maybe too prideful? Listen and help them.

Listening is the secret, and it's up to you to  listen so you yourself may be heard as well. Just remember listening isn't always to noise.
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TheTinfoilRat Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
Thank you Ahk for posting this, I think it's helpful.
TheTinfoilRat Featured By Owner Edited Jul 21, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
My problem I guess is that, my mind is always so full of stuff, it's hard to focus on anything apart from what's in my head. And I'm not sure how to get rid of all of the thoughts and all of the everythings in my mind; they just automatically appear by default. I think it's been years since the last time my mind was blank, blank enough to focus on external things properly. I think. I dunno.

btw I love the text on the picture, it's very intriguing. ^^
farunderheaven Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2015
I remember I used to spend hours outside just watching things, when I lived in the country.  I really miss doing that.  And I do feel also that everyone is so absorbed by technology that sometimes they seem like they don't care about anyone.  It seems to me that society doesn't realize that one of the most important parts of our lives is our relationships.  People don't hold funerals and mourn for their totaled cars or their smashed phones, only for people or pets that they've lost.
Featherdream Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow that truly hit deep. I am guilty of not listening very often. I try my best to, but as a regular human being I typically get absorbed in other things. This really inspires me to not worry so much about me and listen. Thanks for writing this.
ArcticPug Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015  Student Photographer
Fantastic, thank you.
People say there's no time to listen, no place to listen etc. I think even 60 seconds is better than none at all. I read once that people check their phones 150+ times a day! If you check your phone for 3 seconds each of those 150 times, that's 7.5 minutes wasted, staring into... nothing. Learning nothing. Gaining nothing. Do we truly understand what YOLO means? Even though it's trendy, when you think about it, to some extent it's actually true.
I am thankful I can take walks, be surrounded by nature, walk two minutes to get to the beach. Living on Cape Cod is really a blessing and I hate to hear people, especially my age, who want to "escape to the city" because there is "nothing here". Actually there's lots here and you hit it spot on, you just have to listen.
I know you were talking about people, too, but the nature part is what gets me right now :)
Shwonky Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015
Though I see where you're coming from/agree with a lot of it...
it's quite contradicting that you just typed it all out on one of those horrible electrical devices that will one day end up being junk that pollutes the Earth. You speak of a lot of things in a condemning tone whist telling us to listen and understand all things. And in the end you threw in a snark at being too prideful, when this text itself is probably not at all as humble as you might have thought, whether or not the point you're making is. Maybe I'm wrong, but just my two cents. I'd rather point something out than just tell you I agree, so here goes.
Still agree with your general point though.
Ahkward Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
If I could walk to each of you and tell you myself I would. However due to circumstances, I don't really see that as possible. I had no intention of sounding snark and rude, and I had no intention of sounding humble. I don't care if people take me either way. My point in writing this was not to sound holier than thou, it was simply to state things as I saw them, the way I sound is irrelevant to me because that is not my point. Too many people post things trying to garner attention as wise or smart, or as knowing things other people don't. I stated my feelings and how I see things, and I'm not telling everyone they are stupid or bad humans for not thinking as I do. That IS rude and puts me on some high horse. Trust me, I was not wanting to appear as that.

I did want a reaction from people, and any reaction be it good or bad means they read it, they listened and reacted, even emotionally or by replying just as you have.
Shwonky Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2015
Yeah, of course, I understand :') 

And naturally. I really think we do have a mutual understanding on these things even if we would phrase it differently.
M-Lee08 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
I took the time to read it all.

It remindes me why I teach at a camp.
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I took the time to read all of it and boy... it did hit home.
I was brought up in the city, but liked to wander around in nature and get away from the others and the social obligations. Now that I've grown up there are a lot more responsibility's and it's harder to find time to get away from everything... and in all honesty... I miss it sometimes. I've been writing ever since I was a small kid and one thing I've learned from that was to observe. In order to write well, you have to get in touch with your senses. All of them. You don't only have see what things look like, but also hear, feel and smell them. You have to observe in order to understand. 
xxleaftrailxx Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes uwu
9nails Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Very deep, but yes, I know exactly how this goes. However, for some of us, it tends to be hard to even find the free time to listen, what with people's busy lives. Sometimes, people need to slow down and just see the world for what it really is. I understand that jobs may get in the way, but every person has got to have that single moment of free time. Even a minute could change your perception. I myself have been connected with animals in general, but if I had to say a certain animal, it would probably be reptiles. I have always be assassinated by them and aside from the fact I never see see any around here, I feel just like they always are trying to tell me something when I see them in a zoo, or the few times I have seen them wild. Plus, if one can simply take the time to just look, they can see just how beautiful nature is and how perfect a system has been created by none of these fancy electronics or gas run machines. 
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Submitted on
June 14, 2015
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