Once you have traveled in the four directions and along the main thoroughfare, and spent a great deal of time on the back roads, putting one foot in front of the other until you reach a measure of satisfaction, then you might find a clearer vision of what you’ve been searching for, of why you set out in the first place so long ago.
From this high place you can look beyond. You can look far and wide, and see how your own road is intertwined with all the others. It is not separate, yet it is yours and yours alone. The One Road, the sequence of your choices, the order of footsteps that led to this.
At last, at last. One road, at last.
Friends, I toss myself aside for you. I become available for you. I eat, drink, mumble, run hands through hair for you, scramble down the gulch for you, carry wood, fold socks, scrub pots, ever-fearless, requiring nothing.
These are not the days of time’s inhalation pulling way up under the world’s collarbones, stitching together the fibers of dream and memory. These are days of emptying the mind, distilling the essence.
Friends, what does it matter if the world hears your voice? We all belong to each other. Your voice is here, mine is here: as wild, small, and equal in worth as any other.
The voice is in your heart and so the world’s heart knows it, as surely as you know the heart of the world and hear its voice also, as surely as there is perfect stillness in the eye of the storm.
We listen for the voice with all the power of our deepest listening, as if our line is cast before the coming of a great fish, a sudden tug is felt through our hands, and our withered husks give rise to some new possibility, somewhere between dusk and our return journey.
This is Earth, sell your house. Go on, do it. Just see it through. How will any change ever truly come about if you don’t sell your house? There are many thoughts inside your head that are not true.
This is Earth. Give away all that you own. Don’t be afraid, just begin. The rest will take care of itself. How can you ever breathe the true breath of the world – drawn way up under your collarbones – if you don’t give away all you own?
This is Earth. Release all that is expected of you. Forget everything they want you to be. Close your eyes and make the brave discovery. Do not let the noise of the world drown out the voice inside you, the voice that is to be held by you, above all the other voices, whose speech only you can understand.
This is Earth. Know what is home to you. It might be someone’s face held in your hands, or the music of waves crashing. Keep your path, and the feeling of home, close.
This is Earth. Do you know what you must do? Only surrender to the door through which you must go.
Evergreen trees take a solemn stance,
seem to long for rain in their crooked row,
seem to pity the quivering cottonwood leaves,
and decline to change for the coming snow.
As is so often the case, it was only me at my own side, constant companion.
Eyes on the next bend in the road, waving mosquitoes away unsuccessfully, rounded stones half-buried in the ground pushing at my feet through the soles of my shoes.
The light softens now.
Cloud-shadows of evening begin to lick the hills and valleys, entreating this corner of the world not to sleep.
Instead, these children of the stars implore us to burn candles, and pay attention far into the night.
My heart shines from its place in my breast,
a candle in a mist-bound wood,
to know you’re not like all the rest,
to sing your name soft as I could.
To sing of sage and stout tealeaves
while we roll among the heather,
to wander over root and branch
on woodland paths that wind forever.
Where every thicket hides a sprite,
and daffodils float here and there.
Where moon and star shine twice as bright
and wise ones council everywhere.
To sing your name soft as I could,
to know you’re not like anyone.
A wedding in a lighted wood,
a first kiss given beneath the sun.
I bliss out when I experience the connection between walking and writing, just as surely as I use the “no candy” checkout line in the grocery store, or sacrifice my dignity for a cheap laugh.
Walking in the woods – especially with my cellphone turned off – is always a reminder for me to re-evaluate The Question: what’s the rush? It just agrees with me. Taking a time-out from everything I “should” be doing, or need to do, and tuning in to the simplicity and complexity of the natural world, via ideal heart-rate and blood-flow, is where it’s at.
I really enjoyed the recent article in Poets and Writers magazine, explaining how Charles Dickens wrote for five hours a day and then spent the rest of the afternoon taking extended walks. What a dream schedule for the everyday workingman such as myself! I’m going to be 40 this year, and for the first time in my life I see the need to slow down as paramount to my sanity, and my ability to stay centered. One can be ambitious in many different ways, and life in the fast lane can lose its luster.
What exactly is it that we’re all rushing toward these days? Maybe financial security or social status, or maybe it’s a cerebral reaction to the current technology. Maybe it’s fear that we’ll arrive at the last outpost of our lives feeling like failures, obsessing over all the things we didn’t do, all the places we didn’t go. Or maybe we’re unconsciously trying to fit in with others around us who are striving for superhuman goals.
All I know is I messed up a lot of stuff in my younger years, whirling and twirling in a wild rush. Now I need to slow down and think about things before I do them, and just do the best I can each day. I think it’ll be fine. I don’t think I’ll be on my deathbed thinking “dammit, if only I would have multi-tasked more efficiently!”