Land for the Lost

Land for the Lost

A Story by Joshua Deaton

“Wishful thinking is cruelest to those who are still in love with what they once had.” For as long as I can remember I have never been the guy who couldn’t deal. I had never been a person who could become so overwhelmed he forgets the basis of who he is and exactly what he is made of. However, college has taken its toll on this weary soul. I find myself questioning things and wanting things like I never have before. I miss my childhood, my innocence. I feel as if the entire weight of this “grown-up” world will crush me given the opportunity. Every day I wake up wondering why I do the things I do; why I talk and deal with the people I do. I ponder on how I have wandered off and lost myself in this newly discovered world. It feels as if I were Columbus sailing through the unknown waters of a place never believed to exist. There is so much I have never realized, and so much I have never been exposed to. There are so many things I have never experienced and choices I have never been presented with. I am a man.  How much of one, I will leave to speculation. Nevertheless, I am a 19 year old, independent being, able to make his own choices and subject to the consequences that those decisions bring to the table. It’s a scary thing, this new big world. It is definitely not the small town of Aragon I have grown so accustomed too; a place where everyone knows you and your Grandmother. I find this newly instilled fear to be the culprit of my writing. I seek an escape from the prison of the present world I have found myself in. I yearn to break the bars that confine me from that sense of purity and balance I once was allowed to taste. It looks to me as if I am longing, for a forgotten sense of place.

            For those who are uninformed or for the many of you who might not have cared to know before; a sense of place is that feeling you get when you know you are right where you belong. It is a place that you love and feel comfortable in no matter where it may be. A place you understand and a place that understands you in some way or another. For most people their sense of place belongs to their hometown, where they grew up, or where they experienced the best years of their life. Growing up, I never seemed to view my home as that place. It is not as if I didn’t appreciate my home or that I thought my family was an oppressive force trying to destroy my childhood. Looking back, I never viewed my family in that light at all. I love my family with every ounce of love I could possibly pour from my heart. I just simply understood how things were and the way things went. So I chose to get away, rather than stay in a place that always seemed distressing.

            In the younger years of my life, it seems my family was thrown into what felt like a hurricane. Faced with intense job pressure and the addition of another child to our fragile newborn family, it appeared as if the fragments of fabric that bound my mother and father together, were slowly unraveling with every argument, and approaching the verge of completely tearing apart. To get away from the flames of hostility building within the bowels of my household, I would escape to the sounds of tranquility calling me from within the forest. Some children have “blankey’s” to cling to when frightened; others have stuffed animals. I had an entire forest!  Now to be clear it’s not as if I had nowhere else to go, or that my family was frightful. We had problems like every other family has to face and I have always had plenty of friends, and lots of other family members to go to.  I just simply enjoyed nature and all it had to share substantially more than the company of others. My forest never had rules or restrictions, it never became angry or frustrated with me, it never scared me, pressured me, or made me uncomfortable. When I was there, I was one. I was happy and I was safe. It is what I believe home was supposed to feel like.

My sense of place will always belong to a land I can only describe to you as magical. A realm where imagination is allowed to gush freely from the constraints of logic and all the colors of the mind surge out to paint a picture of a world unknown to any other. I was born and raised in a small slice of nowhere known as Aragon, Ga. a place so unexciting, yet never more entertaining. Here, entertainment was of two options; one of television and the other imagination. I chose the latter. If you were to drive past my residence you may or may not notice a modest amount of land adjacent to my home. To someone other than myself, this land may only seem like a small worthless patch of trees standing in the way of a “could be” pasture.  Though in the eyes of a 6 year old, this patch of timber is what Alice would have described as a wonderland. An escape to anywhere and everywhere my young mind dared to trek. The crisp scents of pine and hickory would dance on the tip of my tiny nose as the swaying trees seemed to summon me into their sacred home. Birds everywhere sang me songs of welcoming as I stepped foot into their sanctuary. I had always known this place was special. From the pitter patter of mouse paws crushing the carcasses of sundried leaves, to the crash of squirrels performing their routine acrobatics underneath the shadows cast by the setting autumn sun. This place was a utopia of creation. In this utopia I found control of what I saw to be an entire world, and it was in this enchanted empire where I first learned to control myself. Not my behavior per se, but my mind, my ideas, and my thoughts. With the right mind set, the ancient sturdy trees that encompassed me would transform into the masts of the most feared ships of all the sea. I fought perilous naval battles against the greatest pirates the world has ever known. Captain Hook and Blackbeard were always astounded by my arsenal. It proved hard to differentiate between the green looks of envy and sea sickness upon their awestruck faces as my ship unleashed its weaponry upon our foe. The earth shattering blasts of cannons would splinter my ears and quake my entire environment as we fired cold steel upon one another for hours on end. If not at sea, my mind loved to lurk into the dark ages. I would travel many a fortnight slaying monsters with Beowulf, saving princesses alongside Robin Hood, performing quests at the right hand of Arthur, and building forts for the men I was sworn to protect.  As a Knight of nature the stick served as my long sword and the fallen branch my lance. The wooden weapons seemed to lust for the touch of my innocent hands. The skin of the stick would float to the ground, sacrificing itself in order to provide the perfect fit for my sweaty little palms. It’s a good thing too! Being the renowned warrior of the woods, I needed my wooden weaponry to fight off the storm of enemies I would undoubtedly have to face. Species came from abroad to test my skill. Plants, animals, aliens, monsters, and the occasional little brother were of no exception.

 My forest will always be unlike any other place. To this day, I can still hear those songs calling me to the forest but I know I must never return to the ships that I once sailed. Those ships are simply memories that have left me ashore only to ponder how it is that I have come so far from where I once was. I know one day I will find another land just as magical as this. Still, I will never forget it was here I allowed my mind to grow, to expand, and to enjoy all things real and fictitious. Here, I found refuge from a world I wasn’t ready to walk in. I learned how to enjoy myself, my surroundings and how not to take life completely serious. Some may think it silly that something as trivial as trees for pirate ships or fighting imaginary objects with twigs would prove to have such a profound effect on an individual. Yet, simply by remembering the connection that occurred between my imagination and nature in this place has brought upon the realization that this harbor of creation will always be with me and will forever impact my life. Perhaps, not only in a way that shaped who I believe I am today, but also in the person I feel I will soon become.



© 2012 Joshua Deaton

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Added on June 25, 2012
Last Updated on June 25, 2012
Tags: children, pirates, love, hate, depression, death, ego, happiness, hardship


Joshua Deaton
Joshua Deaton

Aragon, GA