The last ten years. Straight.
That's how long I spent in the city. Huge buildings, large swarms of people constantly about, sirens, crime, violence, stress. I mean the entirety of those ten years, working in the busy downtown, never taking a vacation or getting out of the concrete jungle. It's enough to drive a person mad.
And it did.
One day, I just cracked. I would almost say literally. I could no longer function, not only at work, but in my almost non-existent personal life. I couldn't even string a sentence together.
I had to escape.
So, with great difficulty, I gathered some basic supplies, got into my vehicle, and started driving. Heading toward nowhere in particular, just resolving that I must get away before the little shreds that were still hanging on, keeping mind from completely disconnecting, tore away.
I can't even remember how long I drove, or if I even stopped at all. All I know is I got in the car and drove, and next thing, I was parked in the middle of a dirt road in the wilderness, surrounded in the silence of the forest. Trees towered above me, obscuring the sky that had been so hazy for the last week, as if they were sheltering me.
I grabbed my stuff, and wandered into the woods, oblivious to any potential dangers, as I knew I did not have a choice. The only danger that was real was the danger of my true self dying if I didn't enter.
I eventually found a little level spot, and set to making a small clearing. A clearing I knew was to become my home, though I know not for how long. I removed old wood, cut down a few plants and trimmed others back, until I was done. I looked around, the ground mostly clear, the plants forming more than just a clearing, but a perfect circle, the foliage reaching to a high point on one side, pointing west toward the sunset.
Then I set at digging a small pit, for the fire I would be getting so intimate with. I put a ring of rocks around it, echoing the balance of the clearing. My shrine. I knew this would be more than just a place for fire, but through which I would worship nature.
I learned to live in the forest, washing my few items of clothing in the stream, collecting fruits and other edible plants, creating my own bow to hunt down something alive from time to time, and observing and becoming one with nature. I was becoming whole again, in mind and spirit.
It was with great sadness they day I left, but the weather was growing chilly and I knew I had completed what I had come here for. I would head back to that city, not to return to the life which had almost driven me headfirst into the blackness of madness, but to rid myself of all those possessions and relationships of self-promotion, take what's important, the items of memories past, and find myself a little town, near these woods, and start over.
I owe my sanity to these trees, and now I shall never leave them.