Grow like a Tree

A philosophical Walk through the Eulenschlucht (owl canyon)

Written by Annika Kiehn, September 2019

These days people artificially start to reflect nature – they make up terms like forrestbathing when they simply mean being in the woods. Recent articles tell us about the beneficial impact this „green“ has on us – how it boots our imunsystem, how it enlightens us, how it supposedly makes us more creative. While he was walking down the Eulenschlucht near the Polish castle Krockow in Northern Kashubia day by day, the German Philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte found time to reflect on himself and his way of thinking: Is it really like I think it is? Or are there other possibilities? Go on and find out yourself!


I recently started to regularly go for a run in the nearby forest. It takes me just a minute to reach it and I am immediately caught up in a world of birds‘ voices and rustles on the ground. It is this silence and peace of a certain quality that brings me back on track with myself – and it often saves me from midday-fatigue.

I sometimes just stop running and walk a little while, to indulge this state of being alone with myself in this green surrounding. Since I began to set my mind on manorial heritage, I developed a sharper eye for trees and shapes of landscape. In fact, I became a treelover to the fullest. I catch myself touching the gnarled skin of an oak, for instance, smiling, admiring its thick crust, which reminds me on a super jummy loaf of bread. The thought of its strength and its long existence, considering that many people looking very differently have already walked past it years ago, when mankind would not capable to anticipate something called a car or smartphone.

Whenever I am in the forest, I am also walking down my inner path, asking myself: is everything ok? If it is not, why is that so and what can I do to change it? It is this reflection that I appreciate most as I take my steps.

I dare to say I am self-conscious person. I find it essential to develop myself, therefore I like to explore my multifaceted being.

The German Philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte used to walk down the Eulenschlucht of castle Krockow at least once per day. It was in November 1791 when he was sent there by his famous mentor, Immanuel Kant, and he stayed for two years. He was employed as the teacher for the children of countess Louise of Krockow.

Fichte gained reputation as a founder of German Idealism. He already knew about the potential of self-awareness as a tool of inner health and finding peace. In his book, „So sein wie Fichte“ – „Do it like Fichte“, the Polish philosopher, author and life-coach Marcin Fabjanski writes: „A decent walk for an hour is supposedly the source of regaining our energy level – our concentration works better for 20 percent. It is said, that people, who often „bath“ in nature, are less bound to take medicine and looking at trees reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol for a mere 13,4 percent.“

But there is one major lesson of his Eulenschlucht manifesto, which Marcin Fabjanski stresses for the modern soul: Try to avoid prejudices and judgement as much as you can, according to Fichtes‘ philosophy.

The more you judge, the more it confuses your mind. Instead of making up your mind about any- and everything, just try to be. Rest in the here and now. The goal is to achieve the state of ataraxie – to liberate yourself from psychological harassment, from destructive emotions in order to stop suffering and gain positivism.


Wise words. And hard to internalize into our modern western lifes, where people are struggling with handling to-do lists and finding peace in everyday chaos. I am consciously trying to stop judging those who surround me, but from time to time I find it still hard to continue. As human beings we can only define ourselves through the reflection in others. But there is a fine line of acknowledging a certain development in another persons life – and judging the persons ability to deal with it in terms of making yourself feel better.

This is where the energy balances either towards negative or positive. These days I am mostly drawn to people who just do their thing, who are aware of their limitations and who have found some comfort in it.

Once we find the ability to disconnect ourselves from the spiral of negativity, we will reach an even more important level of being, free from neurotic habits that derive from a simple cause: that of having fear. Because it is mainly fear that makes us bite here and there. Once we have overcome this anxiety, our mind will be calm.

But how to do so? The Eulenschlucht is a perfect place to pratice! (to get into the habit, start with any trail nearby): In fact Marcin Fabjanski offers five philosophical excercises in his book that we can all try out easily. I will sum up three excercises to give you an idea what his intention is all about.

  1. Contemplation about growing old

Look out for a willow tree, maybe one with two branches and little twigs. Look at the contrast of the old and the new parts of it and start asking yourself: Is death really the opposite of life or is it rather like the Roman emperor philosopher Marc Aurel said: “Death is just one of the tasks of life to fulfill.” Ask yourself: Am I able to grow older without judging this process just like this tree? By doing so, you might want to admire the trees of the Eulenschlucht, which built the shape of a dome.

  1. Contemplation about space

As walk further and turn right, you enter the Eulenschlucht. A small path is taking you alternately more into it, and out of it. You are now fully within, look into the little pond, which holds a smooth surface – but is it really that smooth or are there slight waves? It it really always as we see it or do we want to see the things they way they suit us?

  1. Contemplation about intention

Does a toad think about how many flies it will catch today? Probably not. If it would, it would rather die due to thinking too much about it instead of just doing it. Maybe we should stop wondering too much about our actions and rather act intentionally. Try to be open. You might have changed a little bit, after you come back from this walk. Maybe next time you come across a willow tree, you find yourself asking: Does he care? He certainly doesn’t. So maybe, from time to time, you shouldn’t worry too much about others – instead, enjoy the moment of being. (my addition: and rather focus on liking yourself a bit more.)

Visit Castle Krokowa in Kashubia

Castle Krokowa – built by the von Krockow family. Today is a museum, hotel and tourist attraction in Pomerania, northern Poland. It is surrounded by the park, which used to be the pride of Luiza von Krockow and hosts a foundation of Philosophy.


Zamek w Krokowej
ul. Zamkowa 1
84-110 Krokowa (woj. pomorskie)

Tel. +48 58 77 42 111

e-mail: recepcja {at}

Website Castle Krokowa

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