Archives for posts with tag: #23

These days I seem wholly contented more often than not. Days sometimes slip by, without noticing I have not written a word, and life feels generally very pleasant within the limited context of my own experience. (Admittedly, when I look beyond that limited lifetime, I see so much struggle, so much pain, and so much unpleasantness, it is hard not to avert my gaze.) Even this lovely life filled with balance and quiet joy holds opportunities to improve, to love more skillfully than I do, to take care of myself more skillfully that I yet know how, and to be of greater service to hearth, and home, and community. Growth gets more complicated, it seems, the more contented I am. ๐Ÿ™‚

My gear is packed, with the exception of the clothes I’ll be wearing, and a handful of things that I put through the wash yesterday, and an Rx that I’ll drop in my bag after I take it before bed tonight. I’ll leave for the office tomorrow morning, and head to the camp site after work. I was more ready than I realized, and there were few purchases to make; even my stores of camping food were in good supply and had been kept reliably well-thought out to support a trip to the trees without major shopping (they double as “emergency supplies” between camping trips, creating an ongoing incentive to keep them well-stocked all year).

I’m excited to be out in the woods, camping among the trees, listening to birdsong and breezes. I’m looking forward to uncomfortable hours of self-reflection, meditation, and study. I’m looking forward to thoughtful sketches of small flowers, and reading books I haven’t started yet. I’m looking forward to shameless napping in the heat of the afternoon, lulled to sleep by the buzzing of various insects. I’m looking forward to moments of insecurity, fearfulness, and doubt, and feelings of uncertainty, and inadequacy, and the feelings that follow all of those, when I master them in those moments, and feel my sense of ease and assurance return. I’m eager to sit down “face to face” with the woman in the mirror, and have a chat (figuratively speaking); I find camping exceedingly useful for brushing away the distractions, and really getting focused on the things I need to face, and deal with. I could be a better human being than I am right now, this morning – this journey (and practice) is a way to get there. ๐Ÿ™‚

I am also just… tired. Cognitively fatigued. Weekends, however chill and relaxing, aren’t quite enough at this point to get me the deep cognitive, emotional, and intellectual, rest that I need so badly. Nearly every moment, of most any day, is filled from start to end with interactions, and human voices, and this, that, or the other thing pinging on my consciousness. I need a break from all of that, long enough to get properly rested, in order to really grow and benefit from all that I am exposed to, and all that I have learned. ๐Ÿ™‚ My ‘brain buffer” is full. Sleep isn’t enough to clear it. I’m sometimes cross with frustration that results from nothing more than feeling persistently distracted and overloaded. “Too much”.

So, tomorrow… well, from the perspective of write here, I guess today. Tomorrow I’ll be finishing loading the car (it’s mostly already loaded), and double-checking that I have coffee, my bee sting kit, and any medication I may need, and adequate cash for picking up a bundle of firewood from the camp hosts up the road. 4 nights out. 4 days. Long enough to really appreciate the luxuries life routinely makes available (through not having them) and long enough to have to push past personal demons queuing up for attention, and to have to kick aside any “baggage” in my way, on a path of self-reflection, re-calibration, and rest. ๐Ÿ™‚

I expect to return with pictures of flowers, sunsets, blue skies, paths ahead of me, and moments. I expect to return with a clear heart and sense of purpose. Expectations can be huge buzzkills in real life, so I sip my coffee, smile, and let those go. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s enough to be here, ready to go there, and to let that be what it is, when the time comes. ๐Ÿ™‚ For now? It’s just a Monday morning, over coffee, and it’s time to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

3 days, two nights, one purpose, and I return to my apartment by the park with sore feet, aching muscles, stiff joints, and a smile that ย won’t quit.

3 mosquito bites, two unexplained bruises, 1 blister over 17 miles of trails, and I shot more than 100 pictures, and spotted a rainbow’s worth of different wildflowers in bloom.

I reached my campsite and set up camp well before dusk settled in, on Wednesday evening. I managed more than 4 miles of hiking that evening, just getting my gear to the hike-in camping area, and exploring the nearest trails after making camp.

A coffee well-earned, an evening of quiet.

It rained most of the night, and I laid wakefully, contentedly listening to the rain fall, more than necessarily pleased that my tent doesn’t leak.

The rain-drenched morning didn’t quench my enthusiasm for the day ahead.

I spent Thursday meditating, after morning coffee and a short hike to stretch my legs, and didn’t do much else. I brought a journal to write in, and a notebook, a sketch pad and colored pencils for drawing, my camera, my kindle… and other than my camera, I didn’t touch any of the distractions I brought along to pass the time; I didn’t need them. Time passed just fine without any help from me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Given the necessary conditions, I bloom in my own time. It is often enough to sit quietly and allow the moment to unfold.

I spent Friday hiking, departing fairly early in the morning to walk a new path. The trail I chose was sufficiently challenging to push me, lovely enough to be utterly worth it without any other “reason” to go the whole distance, and totally within my ability. I returned to camp in the afternoon, got my boots off, put my feet up, and made coffee. Out among the trees, coffee doesn’t seem to keep me from sleeping, ever, however late I may be drinking it. I bet there’s something to be learned from that…

Where does my path lead? It’s helpful to have a map, but the map is not the world.

…Instead of learning anything about coffee, though, I learned something different. As campers arrived to fill nearby sites for the weekend, I learned that my needs were met, and that I was “done”. I learned that I didn’t really want to sit through a chilly evening overhearing loud conversations about corporate headaches, challenges with the kids’ teachers, or sports. I learned that I didn’t find value in enduring another camper’s choice to bring a generator into the forest for the weekend.

Ultimately, we each choose our own path…

I learned, this weekend, that it really is quite okay to make my choices my way, without any pressure from my own expectations, or anyone else’s; I broke camp late that afternoon, taking my time, packing up skillfully and efficiently without feeling at all rushed. I packed my gear out of the park (taking the same three trips it took to bring it down to the campsite in the first place), still smiling when the effort was completed. I let the park rangers know I was checking out, so they could release that camp site to another camper – it’s a great spot.

The beauty in the world exists whether or not I choose to observe it. My choice to observe the beauty in the world is necessary only to my own appreciation of it.

I got home before the sun set, unpacked enough gear to begin properly unpacking a bit at a time. First, a leisurely shower. A fresh salad. A hot cup of coffee. A moment to begin the upload of all the photographs. No music. No social media. No TV. Patio door open to the breezes and the sound of birdsong. A quiet evening, alone in the stillness, aside from a few minutes checking in with a friend from next door.

Roses blooming on the patio welcome me home, rain-drenched, fragrant, and lovely.

Yesterday I woke, still feeling fairly wrapped in my own purpose, and disinclined to be particularly social. I wrote a dear friend. I unpacked some things. I meditated. I gardened. It was a chilly gray day, and I enjoyed the morning with a crackling fire in the fireplace – which I might also have done if I had remained out in the trees another day. There seemed no urgency to connect to the digital world with any haste – no one was expecting me to, in any case. (Good expectation-setting for the win!) I watched the birds come and go from the feeder.

It was a lovely day of bird-watching.

Here it is, today. (Isn’t it always? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I figured I’d sleep in… I didn’t. I woke with the dawn. I figured I’d move purposefully down a long list of things I’d like to get done… also not happening, at least not so far. I sip my coffee, smiling softly, watching the birds at the feeder with my laptop balanced on my knees, writing from a slightly different perspective – though whether that is a matter of my laptop, a chilly morning, and cold coffee on the patio, or simply that my perspective remains altered by my time out in the trees is neither known, nor relevant to the experience.

What now? Just this. Isn’t it enough? ๐Ÿ™‚

A patio with a view.

I left my campsite yesterday, just before it began to sprinkle. The rain drops were not a surprise; I woke at dawn to the rumbling of distant thunder. ย A visiting young owl had dropped in on me Saturday morning and on her departure ripped a small hole in the fabric of my rain fly, making a pre-rain departure a nice convenience.

An ominous sky, and a reminder that the weather doesn't argue about gear.

An ominous sky, and a reminder that the weather doesn’t argue about gear.

There remains further unpacking to do; I do the basics right away, and throw washables, and clothing into the washing machine first thing, and ensure that any everyday use items that I had taken with me are returned to their everyday locations. The rest can be handled piecemeal through the week.

There’s more to say. I walked more than 15 miles of forested trails. I reached 1528 ft of elevation, from a starting point at less than 200 ft. I meditated for more than 12 hours of my three days away. I took more than 1000 photographs (of which fewer than 200 actually ‘turned out’). I learned some good lessons on hiking and camping basics, and reinforced good best practices left from my military experiences. I considered things. I contemplated intangibles. I felt feelings, and explored thoughts. I unpacked some very old baggage, and took a close look in a very honest mirror. I slept well, and deeply. I discovered that DEETย irritates my skin – and that there’s always some bit of unprotected flesh that a mosquito can find (it’s their ‘thing’ in life); I am covered in mosquito bites and learning the value of that experience for mindfulness practice. lol

And there’s still more to say, but it’ll keep; today is a new day. I’ll just share this one thing I learned while I was meditating in the forest…

Yes, 'the answers' are here; I brought them with me.

Yes, ‘the answers’ are here; I brought them with me.

Today is a new day, a new experience. Today is a good day to change the world.