Life is better with trees.
I met an angel in disguise who made me see all the good things when I couldn’t even bear to open my eyes. When my world had gotten so dark that even my flesh was sapping off my bones like a juicy piece of meat.
She was like the tiny streak of light that helped ignite hope in my heart when I was on the verge of asking the heavens to take out my sight. She was a ball of sunshine, the first one to make me genuinely smile and laugh after a lifetime of holding on to pain and grief. She was my best friend, and she brought to this place that ended up being my favorite place in the whole wide world – Karura Forest.
Located in the north of central Nairobi, bordering the suburbs of Muthaiga, Gigiri, Ridgeways, Runda, Peponi, Mathare North, and New Muthiaga, Karura forest is an urban forest that offers the people of Nairobi a beautiful place to walk, jog, run, ride bikes, have picnics, and just stroll.
For me, Karura forest was something new to my senses – like a breather when everything was suffocating me and leaving me breathless. I have always loved trees and forests; people like to point out that I have a weird thing for trees – and maybe I do. But this forest was just different. It was unlike all forests I’ve been to. It was spiritual.
I have since visited the forest more times than I can count, and it still remains my favorite place on earth and here is why:
I Feel Connected to Nature
Breath the wild air
While you will come across people running, simply strolling, riding bikes, and taking photos in Karura, the primary embodiment of the forest for me is the undeniable beauty and connectedness of nature. There is life oozing from different species of trees, a love language amongst different species of butterflies and insects, a divine sense of connectivity between the trees, the caves, the river, the falls, the animals, the birds, the history.
I have been to Karura during different seasons, the same cycle. I go here when I am almost on the verge of surrender, here I look up and give it all. Here I feel the rays of the sun on my face as the warm breeze caresses my skin. Whenever I feel tired of running around or starting afresh far too often to end up with the same results, I go here, and I surrender, and I feel connected to nature and the universe, even though just for a day.
We all grow in different directions that’s what makes us beautiful
Let’s face it. Therapy in Nairobi can sometimes be quite expensive. On top of being expensive, sitting down, and telling another human, my problems leaves me drained, so I prefer to go into nature whenever I feel like my walls are closing in on me.
Whenever I am in Karura forest, I take my pen and lay all my emotions on paper, hoping the trees and the wind will read and save me from recurrent cycles.
The forest allows me to let my pen bleed for my heart. Here, I recount memories from my happiest times, feel every pain caused by untold heartbreaks, and here was where I learned that even when it was dark and devastating, words would ooze so beautifully from me that pain became my muse.
This forest has since reflected the beauty that I always tried so hard to conceal with darkness. Here was where I managed to find the flicker of light in the deepest corner of my heart. Here was where I appreciated the cracks, decoded some of the mysteries others found daunting.
Here is Where I Come Alive
Find me where the wild things are
Whether I want to feed off bad energy into the ground or celebrate good moments and milestones in my life, Karura is where I come alive. When undesirable things creep in, the forest holds me together and tighter. I pursue Karura because I feel I understand its language.
Here I completely feel the emotions that inspire my story; I recognize my heart, where I figure my way through every twist and curve. Karura makes me feel like poetry – like a special piece molded with all things bright and dark. It makes me feel worthy of being understood and appreciated, maybe not by everyone, but definitely by someone who dares to accept me and stay.
Listen to the forest
Karura forest is and will be home for me. It doesn’t matter how many times I have been there; I always feel like I am going back home. Back to my roots. Back to the veins of the universe. Back to the original sense of love.
When I think of Karura, I think about rainy days and Sunday afternoons spent buried in books and thick mugs of hot green tea. I think of lakes and road trips and evening walks in parks with hands swinging front and back. I think of all the good memories I have made since I first walked into this forest – all tucked away in a box inside my mind.
When I think of Karura, I think of writing a hundred different poems about loss and love and adventure and the quiet nights I spend missing the people I loved but broke my heart. I think of late-night jay drives in fast lanes with loud music but never loud enough to drown out some of the demons I auctioned in the past.
When I think of Karura, I think of all the feelings I get when I’m with the one I love, and I think of not ever letting go because it feels like home.
This Was Where I learned How to Live With No Regrets.
I am most alive among the tall trees
I always lived my life for others and never for me. It wasn’t until I frequented Karura forest often that I slowly learned how to let go of my past. It was where I learned that nothing would ever change what’s already happened, that nothing will change the past, and hence there is no point in even thinking about it, that there was no point in beating myself up over things I once said or did but can’t undo.
The fallen leaves on the path of this forest remind me that even things that I regret teach me something valuable, that every mistake is always a lesson, every bad decision teaches me something about other and myself, and every wrong choice I made was exactly what I needed to learn how to make the right decisions.
Every old, broken, and new tree teaches me that regret comes with valuable lessons like forgiveness, understanding, and acceptance. The beauty of this forest taught me that regret is what forced me to work on my flaws and become a better person.
This was where I realized that I needed to look within and figure out where my feelings come from and what triggers them in the first place. The atmosphere helped introduce me to parts of myself I never knew existed. The kindness of the wind towards the trees taught me how to be kinder, stronger, more understanding, and that I had the power to stop or change whatever wasn’t serving me well instead of blaming the world.
Here I learned that living with no regrets doesn’t mean living recklessly or an invitation to make heedless decisions or uncalculated choices but is an invitation to detach from its aftermath, detach from who I was.
It Continuously Teaches Me How to Trust New Beginnings
Relax. Refresh. Reconnect.
You will always notice new life in Karura if you pay attention. Even what’s broken and fallen in Karura Forest still has life. Even the dried serve a purpose. The flowing water serves every single life in that forest. Here I learn with every visit how to be at ease when things fall apart, and I have to start over.
Karura is always teaching me how to trust new beginnings once more, how to trust in the rebirth of people and things, I find another lost piece of myself, and with every new adventure, I fall in love with something I never thought I’d love. Karura taught me and continues to teach me that new beginnings could be scary and confusing but could also be spectacular and extraordinary.
Whenever I feel feeble and in doubt, I will go here and remind myself why I need to let the fear go; the fear of things falling apart, the fear of shaking my stability, and the fear of the low after the high, the fear of short-lived happiness.
The balance of life In Karura forest has taught me how to let new people in, that some people do say what they mean, and they come into our lives to brighten it up, they come into our lives to show us a new kind of love. The kind of love that stays. It taught and continues to teach me how to reawaken my faith in people and their ability to love and open my heart again.
Karura slowly taught me how to trust myself again, how to trust my transformation, how to get back in touch with my intuition, and how to trust my growth or my rebirth. It has taught me how to trust new beginnings again, even if it means going back on everything I once dearly believed in, even if it means letting go of the people I once dearly loved.
It’s an Urban Forest
Go where you feel most alive
In this fast-paced city life, having a forest in an urban setting really helps when you need just to find a quiet place where you can revitalize your energy. I have always loved trees with all the fibers of my being, with the leaves that soring out of my body to meet the warmth and light of love, with the roots of my heart, with the sap that flows through my veins transporting sweetness throughout my body, and with the holdings that welcome birds and dik-diks and anyone seeking home or shelter.
Having Karura forest near me has allowed me to enjoy and analyze the texture of different trees, the shade trees provide, the expansive trunks of tree to the skinniest of trunks of trees, the smell of trees after the rain, and the way they filter the sky making shapes as the branches dance along in the sky.
Karura forest allows me to assess the curiosity of tree rings, how they differ so greatly in height, how they blend, how they seem to things I know nothing of, how they feel to walk between, besides, among us, and how they share a network of food deep below.
On days when I feel frustrated and drained by this fast-paced life, I come here because the trees here symbolize a ‘togetherness’ that I adore. They are spirit and science. They ground me just as they are grounded when the wind blows. It embodies the core values that anchor me and brings me closest to the Divine.
For the longest time, I used to think that being a woman with masculine qualities was unacceptable and bad. But here, I got to learn that all things Divine are both feminine and masculine. Here, the love for myself continues to grow exponentially with new perspectives. Trees have always been one of the many Divine beings that remind me of this connection. I love trees, and having a forest in an urban-setting keeps me going.
The trees in Karura hold the souls of the Ancient ones, our ancestors, the profound wisdom, and life energy that continues to support our very being in the world. Karura has given me protection and a sacred space just to be! This is home! This is my favorite place in this damned Nairobi!