“Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking; You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.” ― Cindy Ross
I hike. It unquestionably stands as one of my most “passionate, passions”. To walk upon the earth, move under my own power, and feel my body carry its weight epitomizes personal empowerment and freedom. It also is an enabler … a means of moving my mental reflections and its offerings to another level where an actual physical connection occurs. And when out in nature underway in the moment, I feel no greater joy … no greater peace other than those rare and wonderful moments of intimate connection with another deeply loved human being.
Yes, this simple activity transcends all counter-balancing, negative forces swirling in my world. It lifts and transports me to some fantasy kingdom where inner peace prevails, and all is in harmonic balance. It offers me respite from the noise, the noise building up as society and its discord move through the streets of my life. And on so many levels, the “hike” serves as my temporary savior, and creates a metaphor for living each day … providing me a model which helps me create the feelings I “feel” from the physical me aligning with the spiritual me even when unable to engage in this magical activity … in the “hike”.
And as I hike, I see. I’m afforded ever-changing windows through which deeper scenes are viewed and deeper insights acquired. I was granted one such moment on a recent journey … a journey journaled because of the lesson learned. A moment of insight delivered as I moved through the magical temple of nature. A deeper awareness revealed to me as a rich metaphor for my life, a life clearly moving through transitions defined by time and the physical changes within me that accompany it. Though often surrounded by forest and trees, I suddenly saw and felt the community of trees around me … the community granting me entry to their space and time. And with that sense of fresh entry I felt a new understanding emerge.
I saw the “wisdom of a tree”. I saw how gradually and gracefully a tree matures and shows its years. How proudly it carries its broken branches, snarly bark, roots that spread … none seen as a diminishment but rather signs of character and wisdom. I saw the scars of fires that threatened life itself yet were overcome and now simply provide visual contrast that more clearly demonstrate the inner strength to live on. I saw how this citizen of nature proudly displays its true multi-dimensional character as evidence of a life well lived. A life lived fully and unbounded by artificial constraints or limitations and without expectations. I saw clearly that before me stands an elder of its tribe carrying the story of its unique journey granted it up to that moment. And I sensed that not only did it carry the story of its journey, but that in that moment it was fully satisfied … at peace with all that had passed … not having desires or needs for any future. It was fulfilled … at peace …and simply moving from one moment to the next ready to experience whatever awaits.
That day … during that hike I saw things in a new way. My heart was opened, and I stood in sacred space where I find my greatest peace. And I saw … and I thought … Why is it so hard to see the aging of a man in the same fashion? Why does the “human community” create more of a sense of diminishment rather than graceful evolution towards grandeur. So, this day offered me a fresh way to see … gave me new windows through which to see myself and my journey. And I knew there was a valuable lesson here … one that enriches me and softens the footsteps of my remaining journey.
So now I travel in enriched awareness, changed by a moment of insight gifted me by a special community. A community I visit frequently, either physically or virtually. A community which offers me rich, powerful, and insightful opportunities to live an increasingly joyful life. I am such a lucky man to be friends with this community … and so fortunate to receive their blessings and counsel. Yes, a very lucky man indeed …