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In Reverse by Rachel Spicer

artwork by Mackenzie McKnight


The blood pounds viciously through your veins, working in tandem with your overworked lungs, which are forcefully pushing dry, crisp air in and out to keep you alive and moving. You never stop moving. The birds and insects watch on in grave silence, offering occasional sounds of sympathy as the trees dance a gentle waltz with the breeze in an attempt to garner your attention. You are running fast, too focused on the bolts of pain being stabbed up from the bottom of your feet as they make harsh, jarring contact with the dirt to notice.

The speed of it all can be addicting. You have to fight yourself to slow down and be aware. You slow and notice all the things you’ve missed. The trees sway gently in the breeze. The leaves dance and pick up their tempo when the wind encourages them. The underbrush laughs as a squirrel tickles its foliage while searching for a snack. The birds don’t sing the same song, but instead choose to bend the lyrics and notes just slightly, their lilting voices calling out different meanings. The deer peer at you through the woods, unblinking eyes seeing through you and witnessing the things you cannot. Yet, beneath it all, you still feel and see the pounding of your feet on the ground, and the air being shoved in and out of your lungs as you run, the world blurring by. Even with everything you can now look at, you still want to revert to that speed, because it’s what you know, and you can’t quite escape that feeling, that familiarity.

The leaves call out to you. They encourage you to not only look but to see. The trees speak of beauty, growing microscopic and gigantic life out of them as they cry for you to not hear, but listen. The forest wants you to see it in its wholeness, and the bugs whisper secrets to you. They know that for most people, slowing down is the harder option and most aren’t strong enough to do it. Even still, you slow down enough to hear their gentle whispers and encouragements of nature, and you take the next step.

You choose to walk the path backward. You realize that is the only way to break the unending cycle you have caught yourself in. That is the only way to be able to fully see the beauty, because you are forced to see it from a different perspective, and it becomes unfamiliar; it becomes new. You know where you are, yet you don’t.

You notice the beetles going about their day, gathering food and nesting material. You notice the family of squirrels sitting in the tallest boughs of an ancient oak, chittering about their daily meal spot. Everything is seen from a new perspective and you see small things you would have never imagined seeing beforehand because you were too busy rushing by to even look back and consider.

Moving too fast and running by makes you miss everything beautiful about the familiar forest path: the quiet peace, the diversity of life, the different ways of living, the beautiful colors decorating the earth, the microsystems blossoming.

Still, most of you choose to sprint.

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