on unplugging in woodstock

i went on an amazing hike today.IMG_1251

as i walked into the woods i felt the presence of steven harper and his time honored tradition of bowing in and out of the forest. i felt the joy coming up through my legs as i remembered my vow of reverence, honoring the sacred. each time we step into the raw, naked presence of nature, even that which is protected and tamed enough by man to make trails to walk on, reverence is appropriate. steven taught me that about nature.

disturb her as little as possible, tread lightly, pay attention.

she will teach you things.

it felt so good to sweat in the woods, to hear my breath and feel my weariness. to have it be that my climb up the stone path surrounded by trees and moss and wildflowers and cracking slate, and babbling brooks and perfectly balanced stones and frogs and ponds and rainbows and butterflies and birds was how i was tending to my body. i related to the doggies and the sheer joy that they can’t possibly contain each time we go for a walk.

i paused on the way up, to step into the forest and listen and look. and take in the textures and shapes in the untouched world, the ungroomed, the untethered. yet it seemed that everything was exactly as it should have been. everything in its most perfect relationship.

 

 

the deserted building in the middle of the forest was mesmerizing. it was a secret garden. the structure was crumbling; the forest was growing up into it. there was a magnificence to its size and the mystery pulsing underneath of what it was before. there was a fireplace in the center that climbed the entire three stories, and then a spiral staircase that turned into itself and ended at nothing, dropping off into an untold story and a thousand gathered stories all at once.

 

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i find fascination in places where other people have been, remnants of existence of other human beings, expressing their ideas and dreams and loves in the form of actions that leave a mark, that reveal the quality of coexistence in time and space. it feels to me like we gift each other with the parts of ourselves that we leave behind. the way that we decorate something, or arrange something just so, or leave our footprint in the mud or the snow, or the way we leave nothing as a gesture of courtesy or apathy. the fact is that we leave a little bit of ourselves behind everywhere we go. and we take a little of our surroundings with us to share with the world.

if i could bottle the joy and exuberance and absolute wonder of life’s beauty in the moment that i took in the expanse of the catskills on the precipice of the hike, i would surely be the wealthiest woman alive.

so i will bottle it up inside my eyes, my cells, my skin, my heart, anywhere within the capsule of my being where i can store memories, where i can tuck them away to draw upon in times of great sorrow or hollow numbness or forgetting, and i will – surely be – the wealthiest woman alive.

i stood on that stone that overlooked the peaks and valleys of the forest, with lakes nestled into the breaks in the trees, and i felt like i was at the edge of the world. i couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful. it was a breathtaking surprise. i could feel my joy and deep comfort as i saw the layers of mountain range in the gaps in the trees on either side of me, and the history beneath me was palpable the longer i sat there. from one side of the expanse to the other the view was changing shape and form as the storm clouds blew into me. the temperature plummeted as i sat on the stone and all of the fears moved through me as quickly as the clouds moved in.

could the rock hold me?

was there a dark spirit within me that was going to catapult my body over the edge?

were the clouds going to bring a thunderstorm or demon or unexpected remembrance?

it was this practically indescribable sense of smallness in the best possible way. the cloud formation moving directly towards me with bone chilling force and enormity, as wide as my panoramic view could absorb, and the fear. there was nothing to do with it. no way to really label it or put a name to it.

 

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there was just sitting there. with the magnificence of nature. and feeling the wind move through all the layers of me, and sense my hips rooted to the earth, and the pure joy alive in my blood.

i was smiling.IMG_1412

i was smiling out.

i was smiling out into the space beyond me and the history beneath me, and those who would come after me to take in the magnificence of what was presented before me. as a gift. i found myself wanting to share with everyone who was coming up the path not to miss the view.

the truth is, we want to share things.

we want to be. together.

it has been a fascinating time of discovery to be unplugged, to trust that this road is the right road, and that i can ask the sweet woman in the lotus shop about where a cafe might be, and i can just wake up in the morning and decide what i want to do without having to scour the internet for the perfect place or predict the weather so that i am prepared. it’s been a skilled exercise in staying present.

i am certain that i need more of this.

it is that time of the day when day meets night. the locusts have stopped. in my ongoing investigation and bubbling curiosity about locusts and the rhyme or reason as to why they sing, in addition to sunshine i think it might have to do with barometric pressure. the air is heavy today. the crickets are beginning their symphony, the prelude to the cicadas echoing their evening conversations together. they don’t seem to be affected by much of anything. last night the rain came down in a steady pitter pat and it didn’t put one skip in their record.

it feels good to wonder. about things like this.

the combination of the rain and the breeze coming across my skin the way music does sometimes, and the singing cicadas that conjure up so many memories of home and summer nights, and laying in my canopy bed at night dreaming of who i would become.

there is just nowhere else to be but here.

this time has been so restful and i am grateful for the comfort of understanding what david whyte means by well-peopled solitude, and the sense of home in my bones. the grey asphalt and tree lined canopy and the small town feeling of knowing your own, that feels good.

i need to be burning more candles and writing my heart out more often.

unplugging.

and plugging in.

3 Comments

  1. Alan Cooper
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful thinking Liz. I felt like I was on the same path exploring and breathing.

    Hope you are well.

    Alan

  2. Steven
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    Wonderfully written! Wild nature as teacher, get out of the way… Allowing ourselves to be touched and to touch through all of our sensual portals.

  3. Mark
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    i am awash in desire to find that kind of open relation to nature and self, unplugged, and therefore totally plugged in – to what is real – sensation of awareness, unfettered and broached, open, kind, whole, and healing…

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