At the cabin this week, I had no work to do, so thought I might do some writing, but when I got up there, I had this strong urge to just sit and meditate. I wanted to feel everything around me: the strong winds, the sound of the wind chimes, the sunlight that floods the cabin now, with the sun so low.
I thought about how agendas rule most of my life and what a rare thing it is to just sit and enjoy the day with no thought of what should be done—that endless list we have so we can call ourselves productive human beings and feel we are doing something, anything.
And yet there is a whole universe out there with things to tell us, if only we knew how to listen, were only patient enough.
When I was meditating, a large somber mass of clouds to the east was blocking the sun, with one small, almost ethereal cloud racing across the face of the larger cloud, lit up by the sunlight. Where did it come from? Had I dreamed it, created it from my subconscious? When I went for my walk, my gaze kept being drawn upward, where clouds of all shapes and sizes were streaming across the sky. These clouds pull me out of my earth-bound world, so I feel myself expanding, able to take my thoughts someplace where they’ve never been before.
At this time of the year, I see almost no one on the back roads. Once in a while I find a pair of footprints in the snow. I feel some kinship with this ghost who likes the same route that I do—down the road to the pond and over the hill through the woods back to the road.
When I had started my walk, I felt disappointed in the landscape: the grasses flattened by the windblown snow and patches of bare ground. The weather is harsher now than just a month ago, with temperatures in the 30s and strong winds. Yet the longer I walked, the winds and cold felt exhilarating, made me feel alive. In the woods, I found some still deep snow that hadn’t yet been frozen or crusted over, so it was soft and yielding, fun to walk through. By the end of my walk, I felt that everything was just as it should be and thus perfect.
Last week I went to a talk on local butterflies, and one of the speakers spoke about the difficulty of trying to photograph a swallowtail butterfly. He kept chasing it through the bushes, but every time he started to photograph it, the butterfly flitted off. He finally realized he was in the swallowtail’s territory, and he needed to just sit and become part of the landscape. Amazingly, after a few minutes, the butterfly landed on his thumb and obligingly waited to have its photo taken. The world is there, ready for us, if we slow down and wait for it.