Forgotten memories start to flood forward. Images emerge from a clouded haze, a dream like fantasy in my mind that forms into a reality right in front of me. I think I have been here before, but I am uncertain. Everything seems so familiar, yet the entire voyage here seemed so new. It was only upon actually getting out of my car and immersing myself in the magic around me did I start to remember.
At first, there is not much to see. A few cypress dot a park along with grills and picnic tables. They are mostly empty, Covid sure to still be keeping people from fully enjoying the outdoors. Just on the other side of the grass though, lies a unique ecosystem begging to be explored.
A short walk through the park, past the groups of campers and across the dogs playing on the lawn, one finds a shaded spring along with a set of stairs inviting them to take a dip out of the heat. Mangroves pop out of the water, providing the perfect opportunity for turtles to sunbathe while still being ready to jump in for a swim.
I took a deep breath of the crisp air as I continued down the stream, further into the forest. It felt amazing in my lungs, seemingly different than the air I had been breathing earlier that day. Surly an anecdotal fantasy provided by the wonderful ambience of the park, but an illusion I would happily accept.
As I let myself fall deeper into my fantasy, the distant sound of a woodpecker searching for a meal reverberated in the distance drawing me back into reality. I quickly located it, almost camouflaged too well to see, only being able to find it using its auditory signals. In an instant, a memory of me being in this exact place almost a year before cemented itself in my mind. The feeling of deja vu that we all know so well, making the transition into reality.
How is it that memories are formed? What is the deciding factor that locks something in our consciousness vs lost in our subconscious? And when they are lost, how are they retrieved? And how much of those memories are actually real? Does the personal perception of our experience blind us from remembering what actually took place and when we remember, how reliable is that memory?
I found myself in the middle of a forest, the path had diverted away from the spring and I was now surrounded by trees. How long had I been lost in thought? I had no clue.
I noticed a deer in the brush along side me. It stared at me nervously out of the side of its gaze as it munched away on some sort of vegetation. Was I a threat? It seemed to decide I wasn’t.
I still couldn’t decide if I had actually been to this park before. My memories were so faded that it remained a mystery.
I came upon a boardwalk that reached out into the open waters. Suddenly, it seemed like I had entered another world as blue skies reached on forever. About a hundred vultures flocked to the limbs of all the surrounding trees. Something dead must have been near and I wondered what it was.
As I stood there, lost in my own world, I could see the shadow of a manatee swimming just beneath the water. As it moved across my field of view, not much more than a blob of darkness, I thanked the world for giving me this day. For making me question myself, question my own reality. Any time the world can inspire me to think I am thankful.
I was also thankful for the overwhelming sense of life that surrounded me. It’s something I have found myself get increasingly more in tune with throughout my travels and it continues to amaze me. We humans are so insignificant yet cause so much of an impact. It would behoove us to remember that even if we have trouble remembering anything else.
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