Ethan's English class spent time exploring the NPR series "This I Believe." Students explored multiple opinion essays and recordings and then wrote their own essays in a similar style. We think Ethan's essay on the power of nature is magical. Hope you do, too.
Picture yourself in the woods. The wind whispers gently through the leaves, lazily blowing secrets into your ear. On the ground, fallen leaves and twigs crackle under your feet. Elegant sunbeams find holes in the canopy and rain streaks of gold all through the forest. Squirrels rustle in the undergrowth while in the trees, families of birds call to you to enter the magic woodland. Surrender to it.
I believe in the power of nature. The woods calm my anxious, autistic voice and let me hear my soul’s true sounds. Part of my waltz with autism leads me too often to trip over compulsive needs to organize my physical surroundings. One-two-three, put away pens. One-two-three, tidy the books. Twirling with some impulse. Spinning around some act I can’t control. This dance is dizzying. In the woods I can escape this constant movement.
When I stretch out in the woods, my body relaxes and with each tree rustle the swirling anxiety lessens. Some people call it vitamin N. Others call it forest bathing. Personally I like to simply call it wild magic. In this space that is far too chaotic for me to ever organize, I find the need to try nonexistent. The bedlam of the wilderness manages to calm me. On each trip to the woods, I feel my true self emerge. All I experience in the forest is pure calm. Whether you are autistic or not, a trip to the woods can free the inner woodland creature in all of us. This I believe.
Ethan is an 18-year-old autistic high school student in Maryland who communicates the importance of presuming competence one letter at a time.