Lessons of the Forest Part 2: Rest Your Weary Bones

-By Rheanna Chen

A small waterfall pool surrounded by the lush forest trees
Image 1: A refreshing waterfall tempts us on the journey out


The three of us, Tracy, Gesiye and I, were tired. It was the last day of our six day hike  across 25km of Trinidad’s Northern Range. We climbed the mountain- feeling it in our hamstrings  and chest. The strong buddup buddup of my heart thumping; I was in awe at my body’s  strength to carry me such a distance. Around the corner, I could hear the sound of the waterfall  below. I had remembered seeing it at the beginning of our journey; it seemed even more  appealing now. I tried to convince my two friends, “Just a dip, wouldn’t that be nice!”. It must  have been close to 4pm, and one thing about the forest- it gets dark faster. The sun would soon  set and we wouldn’t want to get stuck to find our way home? With the wisdom of Tracy, the  experienced one among these trails, she urged us to stay the course. Disappointed, I learned to  let it go, and so grateful that we did.  

The last few years, I’ve had recurring dreams of always missing a flight. It’s often that I  get distracted with another task and rush to the airport to be told, “It’s too late, the plane is gone”.  In addition, I can’t get my money back or change it to another date. Sometimes, I do make it in  time. However, in the last-minute nature of getting there, I’ve forgotten something important like  my passport. It is always a stressful dream with great anxiety, guilt and shame. Carl Jung who is  known for dream analysis, saw dreams as the psyche’s attempt to communicate important  messages to the individual. It keeps replaying, until the message is received by the dreamer.  

On turning 30 earlier this year, someone special described me as “intuitively impulsive”- I  wasn’t sure if that was a compliment. For someone on the yoga and meditation journey since age  14, the truth is, I can be as “mindful” as I am “forgetful”. I can easily forget my course and  priorities. I become habituated to the doing”, and forget the value of simply “being”. There is a sacred art to pausing which breaks the habit of chronic doing or being tethered to the next exciting opportunity that comes my way. With the light of awareness, one can stay the course to  ask, “what truly matters?” and instead proceed from that place of knowing. Like the dream  where I get distracted and miss the flight, I almost got tempted by the waterfall which would have  sacrificed the safe return home. Where in life do we sacrifice long term gratification for something  short- lived or fleeting? If we had gone into the waterfall which would have cooled us down, the  night would have come upon us, we would have been cold and navigating through the dark forest  would have been a nightmare.  


Hammocks strung from wooden polls with the sea in the background. It is the edge of a built hut framed with coconut trees 
The day before, resting in our hammocks at Petit Tacaribe


“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our  response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” Viktor Frankl 

When is the correct time to pause? When do we push ourselves just a bit further to reach  our goal or turn the world off for peace of mind? It’s not always easy finding the delicate balance  between going into the cocoon to rest then coming out. It’s not always easy making that decision  when managing the expectations of others. Where there is the limbic brain driven ego for survival,  there are also opportunities to relax into tenderness- the being that naturally cares.  

Before making our journey home, we decided to take an extra day in Petit Tacaribe to rest.  This was the best decision. The campsite before was at Grand Tac, where some old and new  motorbike friends adopted us. We were spoiled- they made the bonfire, had plantain shepherd’s  pie and a proper camp set up. What was a brilliant bay- with bioluminescence and a sky full of  stars. A sweet night to a bitter sleep ahead. With the rotten luck of not setting our hammocks up  properly, Tracy & Gesiye got completely soaked by the rainstorm and no sleep. In the morning, we  put our clothes to dry on the rock, and after hot chocolate, started our muddy hike back to Petit  Tac. Tired and miserable, making the most of it.


 Alt Text: A group sitting around the bonfire at night. There are red embers from the fire, and camping lights hanging from above.
Image 3: By the bonfire at Grand Tac



The blue green metallic hues of bioluminescence along the coastline. The  edge of the moon in the back and stars above
Image 4: Bioluminescence at Grand Tac


Deciding to spend not one but two nights at Petit Tac with Tracy’s Uncle Lester, was truly  special. We listened to our bodies and knew we needed more rest. We pitched our hammocks up in  the hut, sheltered by rain but still some sandflies. The sound of the waves lulling us to sleep as my  body curved to the hammock allowing the aching bones to rest. We chewed turmeric every day  since the journey, in an effort to reduce inflammation; not sure if it helped but our toothbrushes  definitely turned orange. However, staying still to enjoy this special place allowed Tracy to  reconnect with family, we shared conversations with hunters, watched rainbows form after the  rain and I even had time to finish the first novel of the year, Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique  Roffey. In past hikes, I’ve never stayed more than one night in the same place; in doing so, we  never really got to fully enjoy the space. It was always moving from point A to B which is never a  great way to experience a place; you miss out on a lot.  

Two wooden huts in front of lots of forest and coconut trees There is a clothe  line with wet clothes drying in the sun 
Image 5: Campsite at Petit Tacaribe


Alt Text: Tracy reaches her arm out to give cheers with 5 other guys, one being her      Uncle Lester who is bareback with a 6 pack. Everyone else dressed in vests and shorts
Image 6: Tracy & Her Uncle Lester give cheers with family and friends


We woke up on the final day feeling nourished. Work smarter, not harder. Luckily, we were able to  catch a boat ride to Paria Bay, which saved us hiking the muddy steep hills. Once we walked  along the beach, the biggest ascent up the mountain was to begin. My memories in the past have  been painful ones; of really struggling, huffing and puffing. This time, whether it was because my  body had rest or I had the support of two other strong women, we were able to do it smoothly. We  took our time and went slow and steady. We were making good time, as we planned. When we  passed the waterfall, I could not help but be tempted. I am glad Tracy encouraged us to keep  going. We could come back to the waterfall on another hike. Not everything needs to be done  now. What truly matters? There are only 24 hours in a day, there is no need to do it all. There can be another day. Know when to rest, know when to move forward, stay the route. 

  Alt Text: Tracy’s silhouette holding a walking stick in the light of a streetlamp with   the dark blue hues of the nightfall
Image 7: Tracy returning to the village of Brasso Seco as it turns to night


NOTE: All images that are not explicitly cited from an external source were created by the author.

Preferred citation: Chen, Rheanna. (2022, November 14). Lessons of the Forest Part 2: Rest Your Weary Bones. The Maintainers. https://themaintainers.org/lessons-of-the-forest-part-2/