On a whim, yesterday, I put aside my doubts and concerns and hit the trail for a few hours. I definitely needed that. I arrived home tired, feet aching, and feeling renewed, and more “aware of myself” in some hard to describe way. It was a good day for it, and I found the deep feeling of peace and contentment I was yearning for. This too shall pass. 😉

Today has not yet begun, and there’s little to say about it at this point; my coffee is terrible. Yep. I wasn’t really awake, muddling around clumsily. This carelessly made cup of coffee is both bitter and insipid…but it’s hot, it’s got some caffeine in it, I made it for myself, and there’s no one here to impress. I sip it slowly (it’s still quite hot), unconcerned about those other details. I… just don’t actually care this morning that this particular cup of coffee is pretty awful; I made it for myself, and I’m appreciative that I have it now. 🙂

I am struck by a question; do I treat myself better when I hike regularly? I think over yesterday’s journey.

Bees enjoy roses also.

Bees enjoy roses.

I began at the rose garden, picnic lunch in my daypack. I got a later than usual start and the idea of having my lunch among the roses sounded lovely. It wasn’t really… it was crowded with tourists there, even on a weekday. I shared a shaded bench with an elder traveling from afar. We talked of roses, gardens, grandchildren, sunny days, and love.

Roses love sunshine.

Tourists also enjoy roses.

I wasn’t looking for company, and when I’d finished lunch I offered my well-wishes to the human being sharing the bench with me and continued on my way, seeking… something. At that point, I didn’t have something specific in mind.

I set off through the trees.

I set off through the trees.

My frustration followed me up the trail at first, in the form of inescapable children’s laughter from the playground area I’d passed by. As the trail became steeper, and wound away from the sounds of the road nearby and the playground now in the distance, the world grew quieter.

What am I seeking? Does it determine what I am able to find?

What am I seeking? Does it determine what I am able to find?

I kept walking, having fairly quickly reached a seeming ‘the way out is through’ location on the trail. I took fewer pictures than I often do; this one was for me, in that moment, and savoring it was urgently more needed than saving it for later. I listen to myself silently bitch awhile… about the weight I’d gained and haven’t lost, about my feet aching, about the distant sound of traffic (barely audible at that point), about feeling reluctant to return to the work force, about how much harder a steep hike is than I’d like – I was really working at this one!! Then, I really heard me. I stopped at a likely looking log suitable for sitting, and I took some time for that, too.

I’d reached a point in the journey well-suited for stillness. Quite a luxury – no sound of voices, no sound of traffic, and having stopped walking, even the sound of footsteps and self faded from memory. No clock, no timer, no agenda, just one quiet moment to embrace stillness under the trees. I had “arrived”.

Enlightened

Bathed in light, wrapped in stillness. Walking on.

Some time later I resume hiking the trail, considering myself more or less ‘half way’ – since I had “arrived” at a “destination”. It was a lovely day for it, neither too hot nor too cold, and no hint of rain to muddy the trail.

I walked on, contemplating emotions, thoughts, the nature of those things, how they work with or against each other, and in what context. I thought about how much effort so many of us put into forcing ourselves – or others – into tiny well-defined boxes of characteristics, almost insisting that if a being has any one of them, that being must therefore have all those that we have associated with it. We make ourselves crazy forcing our expectations and assumptions on one another. Silly monkeys, we’ve so much room to grow, to live more skillfully, with more heart… “I’ll get right on that” I assure myself, and smiling, I walk on.

That looks painful...

That looks painful…

I walk past a tall tree with a spectacular wound, its lifeblood flowing down to the ground, without visible motion, timeless, enduring. I wonder if that hurts? I can’t imagine having such a wound and not being in pain. I think about how we treat each other, as if our wounds don’t pain us, as if we are not suffering together. I stand in silent gratitude for the lesson, and feel that immense sense of age and wisdom, grand experience, mighty tolerance and perspective that I so often feel present, deep in some forest. Small stuff seems pretty small out here. “What are they thinking?” I wonder – I always wonder.

There's further to go.

There’s further to go.

I walk on. I walked a good while, actually, covering about 3.5 miles of decently steep well-maintained trails. Once I entered the Hoyt Arboretum, I enjoyed winding around from this trail to that one without much attention to my map, enjoying short bits of trail through distinctive groves. I was alone throughout, without even passing others on the trail, until I got quite near to the end point of my hike, at the light rail station.

I stood waiting for the train, content and still quite alone, enjoying the stillness that seemed to so completely ‘belong to me’, a sort of distillation of satisfaction, contentment, and ease that felt rather similar to post-coital bliss in some way that I found mildly unsettling, and therefore also somewhat amusing. More than “okay right now” – I even felt “happy”. 🙂

There were verbs involved... some that needed doing, some that needed to be discontinued.

There were verbs involved… some that needed doing, some that needed to be discontinued.

I wonder if I’ve learned anything? I wonder what today holds? I wonder if my second cup of coffee will be better – and I wonder if I’ll care if it isn’t? Today is a good day for wonder. 😉