A morning walk through all the trails before it gets too hot. Gravel paths crunch and remind me for some reason of previous trips here with the retreat group. The paths lined with mulch are pleasurable too, in a different way–squishing pliantly beneath my foot, quiet compared to the gravel. As I walk along the stream, frogs unseen plonk into the water at my approach–one from high up off a tree branch overhanging! Crows caw and squirrels chatter angrily as they scrabble around and around the bark, chasing each other with squirrel anger at the trespass. As I often do, I ponder how this place exists whether my eyes are witness to it or not. Here is the life of this mushroom: unobserved from beginning to end. I watch a red leaf flutter to the the ground and appreciate that I am the sole witness to this in the entire world. Later in the walk I ponder how life back home has proceeded without my presence all weekend, and so it shall when the day arrives that I exist no more.
I long to be untethered. Loose upon the world. Floating in a warm stream, flowing, my hair fanned out behind me. A halo around my head. Ears dulled to the external and filled instead with the whooshing of my own heartbeat.
Untethered. Unraveled. Undone. Unguarded. Against the grain of common acceptance.
It is overcast today. The world is shrouded in mist and muted, a silky blanket of quietude. Not silence. Birds chirp, hidden beasts rustle, mosquitoes buzz. I found the most delicate mushroom, pale and feathery and fragile. I touched it with extreme care, just one finger extended to connect its life with mine.
White foam marbled the flank of the wave…rich and fatty
The warmth of the water never ceases to astound me. Growing up in Northern California, the ocean was bone chilling, hostile, rocky and foreboding. This one is velvet, rich and supple, its danger in its quiet seduction, hoping that you are unaware of the grasping hands of the rip, caressing you tenderly away from shore before you even realize your fragile mortality.
Each time I struggle with the deep, hot sand at the end and when the dune summit is reached…I gaze so longingly one last moment as sad as if I know it will be my last.
“To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.”
Travel is our opportunity to wade out from the rushing stream of daily life and lay down on the soft grass on the bank. Rest your head, close your eyes, let the sunlight filter red through your eyelids as the insects whir in the distance and the babble of the water fades to background noise.