Archives for posts with tag: out in the trees

I could start with “I’m sipping my coffee…”, but I haven’t tasted it yet. It’s sitting here, hot, ready – too hot to drink, so perhaps not entirely ready. There’s probably a metaphor there, maybe one worth considering with great care.

It’s a rainy spring morning. I don’t mind the rain, so it isn’t the rain that has soured the start to this particular day… it’s just weather. So are these tears. Just emotional weather. Some mornings the challenges of making life in a share space with another human primate are emotionally difficult, frustrating, and push hard on every shred of resilience I’ve got. Living alone often requires more laborious work just getting everything done, but it does not require so much emotional work. It’s work that has to be done, in either case. Just work. Omg, though, some days I really just want to take things easy… where’s the fucking “easy” button around here??

My Traveling Partner comes in, rubs my shoulders and my neck, and says kind, tender words. It helps for a moment. I relax into his love. That helps, too. Love matters. As with other things requiring effort, avoiding the work involved in creating enduring love only results in love not enduring after all… so… we work at it. Humans being human. My partner knows this; he’s pretty skilled at love, generally. Still human. Very. We both are. We have shared much with each other over a decade, learned a lot (both of us) about love and loving, and living our life together while also taking steps to be the human being we each most want to be. There’s a lot of joy in this journey. Some stumbles. Some sorrows. Sometimes things seem quite complicated, other times very straightforward; I’m rarely certain whether the complexity of any given circumstance is self-imposed or imposed upon us.

I sip my coffee thinking about love – now that my coffee is cool enough to drink. I take a moment to give myself some credit for the pure ferocious sheer will-to-change (and grow and improve) that is characteristic of the way I love… and the frustration and resentment that can sometimes result from those efforts, if the result is successful (meaning the desired change was made), but… inadequate (in that it did not have the desired result). I have, over years and relationships, grown weary of being willing to change. It’s not fair to my current relationship that the baggage I’ve picked up over the years weighs us down, now. It’s just the nature of “baggage” to function in that way; it takes still more will to set that shit down and move on.

…This is a good cup of coffee…

I sigh aloud in this quiet room. It sounds louder than it is. I think about the day ahead, looking forward to an errand that needs to be run, trying to sort out my thoughts such that I don’t return home to discover there was one other thing that needed doing, or picking up from somewhere. Lately, I often feel as if I “can’t hear myself think”, or as if I’m struggling to hang on to a thought, however engaging, if there is any hint of a distraction of any sort at all. I sometimes feel as if I am being distracted from what I’m thinking about by the thing I am doing that I am thinking about. I only know one thing that seems to sort that sort of cognitive chaos out properly; solitude. My mental “buffers” are full, and in spite of sleeping decently well, I’m just not managing to process everything…and now my headspace is all clogged up with bulging random thought-clobs of garbage and jumbled nonsense, and it’s hard to finish any new thought at all. Or – so it seems to me, subjectively, as an internal experience.

It was August 2019 when I last went camping… perhaps I am overdue?

It’s lovely to have a home I can call my own. It’s especially nice to share this experience with my Traveling Partner… but I guess I still need what I need as this human creature that I am. Maybe it’s time to get out into the trees again, to sleep under the stars, to wonder with awe at my mortal fragility in a wilder world, to face my doubts and fears in a place from which there is no turning away from answering “the hard questions” in life? I didn’t camp at all in 2020 – pandemic closed the places that are my regular favorites, and later resulted in astonishing crowding at those that opened back up. I’ve had my vaccination… perhaps it’s time to plan a long weekend somewhere solo camping? I’ve had this thought several times, but each time I explored the idea further, it was clear that crowding in a lot of favorite spots is still an issue, and seriously the entire point is to get the fuck away from other human beings and the sounds coming out of their face holes, and yeah, even to get away from their mere presence in my awareness. Proper solitude can be hard to come by (and not everyone enjoys it – nothing wrong with you if you don’t!).

Coffee half-gone, thinking productively about how best to meet some of my emotional needs without placing a burden on my partner (who is also stretched thin emotionally by the challenges of pandemic life, himself), and how to be a better partner to him, myself; I’m feeling less weighed down by frustration and sadness. Work is work. Some things take quite a lot of it. Some challenges are more complicated – and often, as a result, more rewarding once overcome. Still, the journey, itself, is the destination; if I get hung up on outcomes and task completion, I lose so many opportunities to live joyful moments. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of random bullshit pinging on my consciousness. Another breath. Another moment…

…Another opportunity to begin again. 🙂

Lots of stuff in the news recently about “getting back to normal” and “opening the country back up”. Are you eager to see that happen, or dreading it as potentially premature? Personally, I’m sort of just watching things unfold with a measure of interested curiosity.

I’m pretty sure there will be a “new normal”, and that we would not be wise to simply hit a reset button and go back to irresponsibly not washing our hands and carelessly coughing into open air, or shopping while we’re sick and contagious. One fairly notable thing about “going back to normal” – we can each choose to live a more healthful, safe, life. We can individually continue to commit to exceptional consideration with regard to contagion and personal space. We can continue to wash our hands regularly. We can continue to properly cover coughs and sneezes. We can continue to not go out into the world when we are sick. These all seem like good practices. Why would anyone choose to give them up? Seriously.

This seems a good time to really look into the mirror and acknowledge where my individual practices and habits do (or don’t) support good community health, generally, and make the corrections needed to see that I do practice behaviors that support good community health – and that I am actively promoting those within my relationships, and my community, generally. We’ve had the nudge we all needed, in the form of a pandemic for fuck’s sake, so now it’s time to build reliably healthy habitual long-term behavior for the good of our communities. It’s not that hard, it just needs practice. 🙂

I sip my coffee and let my thoughts move on.

I sit and wonder about our fantasy notions about “normal”, and what we think that means. Isn’t “normal” simply a matter of what we’re most used to, most of the time, rather than any reliably true perception or statement of what may actually be a healthy state of things? I mean, if I live somewhere where there is trash in the streets everywhere I go, that would probably seem to be pretty “normal”. It would not, however, be a healthy situation, or in any way perceivably good. I’m just saying; there’s an obvious difference in meaning between “normal” and “something worth seeking”. “Normal” is often used to limit and control people’s behavior – through shaming them using comparisons to that stated “normal”. I sip my coffee and think about how often I am, myself, out of step with some individual’s concept of “normal”. I think about how individual our perceptions of “normal” actually are. I wonder about where those perceptions actually come from, and how or why we may reinforce them – even when we disagree with them. It’s a weird system. 0_o

It’s a weird morning.

I sigh quietly and update my “to do list” with a couple additional tasks my Traveling Partner asked me to take care of. I think about the long weekend ahead, and the camping trip that I’m not taking because all the state parks are closed. I find myself missing the anticipated solitude more, simply because it is now the week that I would have been camping. In fact, I’d be headed for the forest right now, car packed, ready to hike in, set up camp, and while away some hours just listening to the wind in the trees. The plan was 5 days… come back, spend a day with my Traveling Partner before returning to the work routine. Hell, when I made my camping plans, it wasn’t even a given that my Traveling Partner would actually be in town to spend that 1 weekend day with me, after my camping trip. lol We’ve been together basically 24/7 for something like 60 days now – I was at home sick with a cold for several days leading up to my employer’s decision to have the company working from home “until the pandemic is over”. I’ve enjoyed a lot of the things to do with spending this time together. I miss solitude. The challenge is finding the balance between cherished solitude and joyful intimacy. It’s there, but there are some verbs involved.

My view shifts to include the computer at my desk. The keyboard under my fingers. The monitor in front of my face. My glance sweeps the room surrounding me, and all the things within it that comfort and nurture me, support my hobbies, my art work, my writing, my job. I pause for gratitude. This good quality of life is a team effort; my Traveling Partner and I add more to each other’s experiences than we subtract, by far. For now, solitude is an out of reach luxury, and it’s in very short supply. That serves to make it quite precious, worth savoring the experience when I get to enjoy it. I admit to myself that if I had a surplus of solitude right now, and no time with my Traveling Partner (an experience I have endured in the past), it would be just as hard, just as frustrating, just as unsatisfying as any moment right now ever is – and on top of all that, it would also be quite lonely. I shrug off my bitching with this bit of practical perspective, and move on with my morning, aware that he is having his own challenges with these circumstances. (It can not be easy to be with me 24/7… I’m a bit much, sometimes.)

I become aware of the clock. Aware of the time. I guess I’ll begin again. 😉

 

 

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. 😉