The Hoh rain forest on the western edge of the Olympic National Park in Washington has one of the most magnificent hiking trails in the nation, if not the world. Thick green moss hangs from alder and pine trees as the sun trickles through a dense forested canopy. Ferns line the hiking trail as though years were spent planning their every position. Around each bend is what can only be described as an artist's palate, with a hundred shades of green being viewed in one glance. A dozen or so yards off the trail, the churning of the Hoh river is heard, heard but not seen . . . the lush forest blocking its view. Water, rivers, rain, trees, the seasons, all in unison creating a work of art, a work that is ever changing. Each season brings with it its own purpose . . . birth, growth, dormancy, growth again, change, the cycles never ending.

There seems to be a season for everything. People have seasons too. Seasons that may coincide with work or family needs, or may coincide with a deeper cycle within, a cycle that needs to be listened to. We know all too well that if we don't listen closely to our own rhythms, own cycles, our love of work or hobbies may become something less. What was once looked forward to becomes duty, obligation, something to be done rather than enjoyed and experienced. So, as if designed by nature, cycles or seasons play a role in everyone's life. The internal clock knows there is a time to play hard, and a time to rest. There is a time to immerse oneself in activities, and a time to take a break.

There are times when we may find ourselves prisoners of our own schedules. We understand the need for self discipline in our work, and for reaching the summit at the right moment for that special project. But sometimes the voice within goes unnoticed. The voice that tries to remind us to balance our work with play, our repetition with spontaneity, our rigid routines with time off, and our enthusiasm with reflection. Sure, we need to follow a defined schedule, but we also need to know when to follow our own internal schedule, knowing that change, that intervals, that cycles and seasons are a part of nature's design. There may even be times in our lives when there's a need to stay away from what one loves for a while, to take a break. But then to listen . . . for that whisper that calls you back.

Each season and each activity bring with them their own purpose, their own cycle. The hike in the Hoh rain forest reminded me of those cycles . . . of birth, growth, dormancy, growth again, of change, of . . . intervals . . . of a sort.

(C) Copyright 1996, by Robert Ross, all rights reserved

Robert Ross can be reached at

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