I always thought there was nothing special about walking in the forest. It can be very relaxing, yes, but I never felt truly moved by it. My mom always liked the idea of a solo walk where each of the members of our family our family would walk several metres apart silently in the forest. She always said a walk is a great way to get inspiration and so a solo walk would be good for that. The way I saw it, the idea was too organized to be inspirational.
Upon one otherwise normal day of filming, my friends and I made the acquaintance of a marijuana addict. The few of us were waiting for my friend to retrieve an SD card from my house. Out of nowhere, a shabbily dressed man with a crooked jaw sat down on a nearby stump.
“Don’t mind me,” he said with a slight lisp, “it’s doctor’s prescription.”
The rest of us didn’t buy into this man’s excuse but to break the awkwardness of the situation we made some small talk.
“What’s with the apple?” he said.
We had brought an apple as one of our props, as well as two oranges and a bag of stale bread. I said, “We’re making a film, it’s one of our props,” to which the man responded, “Why don’t you just eat the apple?” At this point, our friend showed up with a new SD card and after that day he would forever be remembered as marijuana man.
That wasn’t the last I’d see of marijuana man. I had left my monopod case in the forest. A week after our last day of filming I returned with my mom to retrieve it.
“I found it!” I yelled so my mother could hear me. Just then, marijuana man popped out from behind a nearby tree and screamed “No, I found it!” with a big wide smile on his face. After that, I did not want to see marijuana man again.
On another project, we were filming by a river with a bridge stretched across. A jogger passed by on the bridge and told us “There’s a bear back there.” Just at that moment, a vague black figure emerged on our side of the bridge. We collectively assumed it would cross the bridge… but it didn’t. The bear looked straight at us and began to walk down towards the river. Then, we did the last thing any person should ever do when faced with a bear… We ran. We made lots of noise to because apparently, that scares bears, but we ran. We hid behind a thick cluster of tall grass and waited. We heard splashing in the river and peaked. The bear was making its way across the river, we were safe. Frankly, I think we were safe up until we made eye contact with the bear and ran away. I capture a part of it on camera so that memory is sure to last a long time.
One day, my family and I went for a hike on a forest trail. I wasn’t sure I would find a lengthy walk in nature so satisfying, so I decided to bring my camera along. I was told if I wanted to make movies I should use my camera every day. This was one of the few days I actually remembered that.
I stopped on a boarded walkway to take out my camera. The lens snapped into place, a strangely satisfying sensation. Click! The shutter opened up. I looked through the eyepiece and everything became a movie scene. I clicked away at everything that looked slightly different than the last. I felt like myself again.
After a while, I became frustrated because I was always lagging behind the rest of my family. At one point I gave up on taking photos and actually tried to catch up with my family. They were nowhere in sight. I looked around. The wind whistled steadily. The leaves swayed softly. The air was cool but the sky was bright. It was perfect. By chance, I had begun my own solo walk. I could see what my mom was talking about. And I could see that although I had spent so much time making films in the forest, I had never realized how beautiful it really was. I was only looking through one lens.
I wish I could walk like that again. I like finding myself in moments of solitude, it gives me time to collect myself. And I realize now that inspiration comes from the unexpected. I still think my mom’s idea of a solo walk wouldn’t convey the same emotions I felt that day but I still got the result my mom was hoping for. It made me realize the beauty of unpredictability. The forest is a place I have come to appreciate for that reason. It is a place I will always be connected to.