On Finding Space and Going Too Far

Poetry is my answer when I need space to breath. Poetry and nature. I got a little of both when I headed out to the woods with my family this summer. I had all the space I needed as I headed way out into the woods where I almost got lost with my 2.5 year old daughter.

I was planning to swing on a hammock for several days, go out in a small fishing boat on the quiet lake, soak in the woodlands of central Wisconsin.

Wide open space is what I was looking for.

There is no WiFi under this canopy of trees and I like it that way.

One morning during our camping trip, I went for a walk on short trail near our campsite while the guys were mowing the lawn. I didn’t want the fresh cut grass flying in my face all morning. My daughter and the dog were happy to lead the way.

Usually, this trail is clearly marked and I’ve been around it several times. This time, however, the grass was high and fallen trees hadn’t been cleared out yet. The trail had started to blend in with the surrounding unmarked paths in many places.

I’m all about taking the road less traveled and I had all space I could ask for. But as I continued down this hardly worn-path, it started to feel like too much space. I started to panic a little bit. All the doubts and fears crept into my head.

Had I made a wrong turn? Was I still going in the right direction? How far had we gone?  

My daughter and the dog were happy just walking along. But I knew that I needed to reorient myself to base before we got really lost in this wilderness. I could only enjoy the freedom of the open space if I knew I could find my way home again.

And it’s like that sometimes: We jump out of the defined, suffocating spaces that we feel we’ve outgrown. We want to pave a new trail. Sure it’s charming and poetic, until you’re seriously lost. Then it’s just scary as hell. The truth is wide open space can be disorienting. Breaking free with no guideposts can be terrifying.

Unless there is a strong base, a real sense of home, the wilderness can feel overwhelmingly wild.

My family and I all made it back just fine. In fact, we were only about a quarter of a mile away from our campsite. I listened for the lawnmower that urged us back home. The kid and the canine never stressed for a minute.

But me, I learned something valuable. For starters, I learned that my daughter is going to be an adventurous hiker. I also learned that it is important to keep an anchor, a tether, a grounding base when we go out into the wild unknown.

This is not about living in fear. This is not about staying safe. It’s about having a strong inner compass. It’s about having a solid foundation from where to direct yourself when you do break all the rules and make your own way.

So when you get ready to make that leap into the wild, my friend – bring a flare gun, leave breadcrumbs or something. We want to be able to guide you home when you’ve gone too far.

What about you. What does your wide-open space look like? Do you feel free? Lost? Both? How do you know when you've gone too far? How do you find your way back home?

3 responses to “On Finding Space and Going Too Far”

  1. […] but feels just as joyous with hush tones around an evening fire. This is the place of family hugs, of walks in the woods, of crock-pot meals and full-moon […]

  2. Krista says:

    I can totally relate to this post, Iris. I’m glad that you and your family found your way back and were safe. I wonder if metaphorically this has something to do with our own fears of the unknown?

    You were safe and found your way home but why can’t we trust ourselves to know that? I agree that having a guidepost is important, but in hindsight, we are never truly lost — we believe we are lost, however, we always find our way. Obviously your fears were real to you and I am not doubting that for a second, but I can’t help but look at this from a larger, universal sense.

    It also reminds me that there is always someone watching over us and guiding us along our journey, especially through those scary wide-open spaces. Someone is walking alongside us every step of the way helping us maneuver the unpaved path.

    Love your posts, your poetry and your writing. Keep inspiring us, Iris! x

    • Iris Madelyn says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Krista. “Why can’t we trust ourselves to know that?” That is the question of the century! I am continually working toward trusting my own voice (aren’t we all) and I believe like you that we are never truly lost. What a great reminder. Thank you for reading and for your kind words. xo

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