Read through a sampling of posts on this blog for the past couple of years and one thing you will likely notice, in my more reflective posts, is my commune with nature. Whether I’m looking out my window at the squirrels or birds, watching a sunrise, or meandering through the woods, nature is a harbor in which my soul finds peace.I’ve always loved being outdoors. As a child I spent many an afternoon, evening, and night surrounded by the sounds, smells and beauty of the outside world. As I grow older I still have a passion for outdoor activities. I’ve been diving in the Red Sea, watched a lunar eclipse in the Saudi deserts and climbed the rock faces of Omani mountains. Nature has always strengthened me and continues to do so to this day.
Spend any time with outdoor enthusiasts; hikers, rock climbers, mountain bikers or any other outdoor activity that people enjoy and you hear how people dread going back to the “real world”, with the real world being the daily grind that people have accepted as “real”. But I disagree, the real world is out there, in the essence of nature itself from which we came. It isn’t in the man made world that we were born into and it sure as hell isn’t in the homogenized, domesticated existence in which most of us will accept by default due to lacking imagination that their was once much more, indeed, that there is still much more…
Monday morning I went for one of my morning meditation walks. I enjoy these walks because even while walking on the sidewalks of my subdivision, nature never fails to put on a display of remarkable tranquility. Seeing the full moon overhead, feeling the cold breeze blow through the beard on my face, hearing the songs of birds whose absence hasn’t gone unnoticed through the winter months, provides a sense of joy that is hard to quantify. Nature allows one, if they choose to be present, the rare occurrence of quieting the mind and being aware of what is around you instead of the endless chatter that fills our minds. This is a rare gift! Our minds like to bonce around from hundreds of different thoughts in a given 24 hours time span. Even in our sleep, our unconscious mind hijacks our rest to portray its own thoughts in the images of our dreams. It takes real work to quite all this chatter, and for me I often find that quite in nature. I have to gently direct my awareness to what is around me instead of what is within me. It is being present in what the moment has to offer…
When I returned home I went out back to do my morning exercises. I’ve belonged to a gym of some sort since I was fifteen, but I’ve resisted joining one recently, realizing that all I need is to move my body. I can do that around my home just as effectively as I can at a gym. I’ve traded the iron for body weight movements and moving 80 lbs. of concrete around. While I did this I watched the full moon I had witnessed overhead begin to descend into the north-west horizon. While this was occurring the sun was rising to the east. The pink, reds, and oranges began to streak across the sky, creating a painting that any artist would die to replicate. It was as if the sun was relieving the moon from its nightly watch to take over the day shift. I sat down and enjoyed being in the present. Mesmerized, I found it difficult to divide my attention between two equally heavenly displays of beauty. How does one choose? How can one be given greater weight than the other?
I decided to stay and watch the magnificent play that was unfolding in front of anyone willing to notice, anyone willing to be present. The moon seemed to grow larger as it made its way down to the tree line, almost as if to taunt the sun, to show that he was not the only one who could play a lead roll on the celestial stage. I sat on a stack of wood, unwilling the trade the cool embrace of a winter morning for any amount of artificial warmth indoors. Too many fires are of the artificial nature these days. We forget what strong stock we came from..
Being present, whether to the beauty of nature, washing dishes, cooking for a loved one or watching a child’s cheerleading practice, is an art that is often neglected. We rush through moments only to get to other moments; forgetting that these moments, everyone one of them, is invaluable and non-replaceable. They are the only moment we’ll ever have. They deserve our attention, they deserve for us to be present.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with the moon. It’s playing the lead roll in the night sky. It’s an open invitation, feel free to join me at a night sky near you. Bring your children, bring your loved one. Share a moment of being present, if only for a night.