I took a long walk today, something short of ‘hiking’, but much more than a walk around the block, or to the store. I spent a mellow hour or so among the trees in a nearby nature park, a favorite place that was once part of my daily commute, on foot, to and from work each day. That seems an eternity ago, but in any case, it’s neither here nor there – it’s in the past. I walked paths I hadn’t walked before, and happily observed a couple new ones – or perhaps placed such that I simply hadn’t gotten to them, previously; they were new to me, and that was enough to count them as new, on my walk today. Camera in hand, questions in mind, and some mostly unmeasured time to walk, meditate, and be present, aware.

I feel more prepared for 2015, and in the quiet moments between hanging out with family, and finding my way to sleep, I am enjoying taking a look at the day’s pictures, as well as the experience, emotions, and thoughts they represent for me now. I hope the New Year finds you well, hopeful, encouraged, and ready to continue your journey, wherever it may lead you. Thank you for reading – it never stops being meaningful that there are people on the other end of this handful of words. You matter to me.

My New Year’s celebration, my thoughts along my walk today, are rather more personal than the sort of things I generally share so easily. Rather than feel naked and uneasy sharing things I don’t comfortably express, lack words for, find ‘too private’, or may actually just not be meaningful for anyone but me, I’ll share some of today’s pictures, and some observations. It’s enough. 🙂

...Come on, now; this is why we can't have nice things. :-\

…Come on, now; this is why we can’t have nice things. :-\

As I entered the park, I felt sad, disappointed, and angry that people don’t have enough ‘pride of place’ to want to care for the world we all share. I’m not sure I know what to do about it, beyond choosing, myself, not to litter, leave shopping carts misplaced far from stores, drop soda cans along sidewalks, or dump major appliances down hillsides. I guess it’s a start.

A fusion of nature and craftsmanship.

A fusion of nature and craftsmanship.

I entered the park and noticed some vaguely bowl-shaped stones here and there, and considered what a lovely bird bath something like that would be in my garden. I find the functional stone, and the carved detail added later beautiful, and seeming very sturdy; something that could be counted on. I walk on, reflecting on my desire to feel secure in my life, and in my relationships.

Every moment has something to teach me; there's no knowing what may be around the next bend.

Every moment has something to teach me; there’s no knowing what may be around the next bend.

I inhaled the chill winter air as I walked new paths. Again and again, I was struck by the quality of the winter afternoon sunlight. Again and again, I was frustrated in my attempts to capture it. I stopped looking for perfection, and began accepting what the camera revealed to me.

Winter forest, winter sky - I see mostly what I expect to see, when I expect to see something particular.

Winter forest, winter sky – I see mostly what I expect to see, when I expect to see something particular.

I walked through areas of the park I used to avoid for ‘safety reasons’. Not that the park is unsafe in any noteworthy way; I fell and hurt myself pretty badly there, once, tripping over an exposed tree root that I didn’t see – I wasn’t looking. That was a day I felt incredibly happy, and I was looking up, and around, and enjoying birdsong, and singing holiday carols to myself as I walked along – I definitely wasn’t looking at the ground. While that’s lovely, lacking sufficient mindfulness to successfully walk to work without hurting myself is probably not something to brag about. I walked paths, today, that were rife with twisted knots and braids of tree roots without any particular concern – or lack of awareness. I was aware of the tree roots, among the many details I observed along the way, and enjoyed them as an opportunity to refine the mindfulness practices that add so much to my experience now; I’m always practicing, that’s how these practices work. 🙂 It felt like a huge triumph to feel so comfortable, confident, and unconcerned about an obstacle that once weighed so heavily on my experience that I gave it the power to change my path.

Winter has her lessons, too.

Winter has her lessons, too.

I enjoyed my winter walk so very much, today. I was well-prepared, and although I was walking new paths, I felt I was in familiar territory. I felt safe. I felt fearless. I felt comfortable. Funny how much being prepared can change an experience. Something as small as dressing for the winter weather can have so much value. It’s worth taking the time to prepare, even for something as simple as a winter walk. How often have I rushed out the door to do something, or go somewhere, and found myself inconvenienced because I overlooked something I needed, or suffered pointlessly for some other issue that consideration (“What can I do to prepare for this?”) could have prepared me for? How many times have I succeeded beyond my expectations or desires, on occasions that I happened to be more prepared for an event, decision, or activity?

Looking up; a common practice I use to shift perspective, and a lovely metaphor.

Looking up; a common practice I use to shift perspective, and a lovely metaphor.

There’s more to staring into the sky than meets the eye. I find the literal change in perspective does tend to fairly easily allow me to change my perspective, whatever the circumstances. Perspective has proven to be a very big deal in finding emotional resilience, contentment, and emotional self-sufficiency. I had trouble learning the lessons of compassion until I learned some of the lessons perspective has to offer. I find that perspective and compassion generally go hand in hand.

Sometimes illumination seems so near... other time, it seems a distant possibility, seen just beyond some challenge.

Sometimes illumination seems so near… other time, it seems a distant possibility, seen just beyond some challenge.

So… I walk on. Sometimes the perception that illumination is just out of reach is an illusion, a ‘trick of light’ – a matter of perspective. It may not be at all what it appears to be, in some brief moment of struggle, or frustration.

Winter reflections.

Winter reflections.

That’s really what my walk was about, for me, reflections – my own, on the year just past, and considering what to take along for the journey ahead… Who am I, today, that I wasn’t last year? Who do I hope to be on this day, next year? How do I get there, from here? In the simplest terms, it’s just a walk on a winter day, some photographs, some moments, some thoughts… I didn’t need more than that. Today is a good day to start a new year…a year of love, of consideration, of practice. Today is a good day to start a new year on a less familiar path.