I am most at home in the woods, and also at my best – especially near flowing streams. It’s been my center and rejuvenation, my tranquility and strength over the years and it is always the place to which I run again whenever something needs mending. There isn’t much that a night or two amongst tall trees with a fire won’t heal, or at least start the process.
What we are lacking today is both a personal and a unified connection to our natural environment. That’s why everyone is so angry and out of balance.. you know that, I hope. There ARE simple answers and they are imbedded in the truths of the original inhabitants, aboriginal peoples, First Nations, the tribal cultures… the ones who still remember the import of letting yourself be embraced by the Mother. There is no one skin color for this truth, because if you roll back in the history of Caucasians, they were tribal too. Consider the ancient Celts for a moment… and what a powerful people they were. Profound spiritual foundations there that weren’t even Christian-based as most people today seem to assume. Earth religions – and for those who proclaimed Christianity they STILL mingled it with those foundational beliefs. Being of mixed ethnicity, I’ve had to think about that a lot. I may know more about my First Nations blood and culture and walk in those traditions, but I am aware of the rest and respect it from the depths of my soul. A drum is a drum. They all stir something emotional and have their own clear voices.
At the core of who I am, I have been going through a transformation for several years. Reaching for something more meaningful often takes us down a road full of ditches and detours. As a young person I never understood why my life and experience was so different from that of my peers even with the same basic provisions, and it was very frustrating to not really seem to “fit in” anywhere. I had to learn to accept that I was not often accepted as I am and when there were no close friends, I had to learn what there was to love about being alone. When there was no support, I had to learn how to be that for myself. Sometimes you have to be open to unusual reasons for strange events and the process is likely to be very uncomfortable. A decade ago I was forced to accept limitations for a time. That tore me down to nothing… rock bottom. In 2010 I began screaming through my agony for answers (reasons) and eventually got some answers, even though they were not happy news. In 2011 one of those answers became a spurring motivation. By 2012 I decided to violently take back the things that had slipped away. I set a mark of 4 years for a goal.
Regarding all of that transformation, something I posted recently to consider…
“Molting is a necessary process for maturation, health, and continued strength. Don’t fight the process if you want to soar like an eagle. Some things need to be shed to allow for new growth.”
What are you holding onto? What do you need to release your grip on to receive something better?
The cards we’re dealt… I’ve used that analogy for many years now. My hand was never good, but a good bluff can go a long ways. It doesn’t matter, because I have the choice of defining myself either by the pain or by the successes. I recently took a mile long uphill walk straight up a dry riverbed with a soft, sandy bottom in an area where I could have taken an easy and well-worn trail. Why? Because the interesting and uncommonly experienced view was over there among the trees and boulders <—- , not over there —-> with everyone else. The solitude and serenity was in that empty riverbed where I was alone with my struggle. (Really, I was sore for days.) There are times when it is important to choose to take a step to the side and make your own way, because there is something deeper… more profound in a walk alone. You do not build muscles by taking the path well-traveled. You do it by challenging yourself with intent. There has to be a passion driving you for that to be undertaken in a sense of joy. Regardless of what it is.
Let me say this again… I am not angry that I am ill. I am not grieving about not having the advantage of unmarred health. If I were not this person with these challenges, the people that I speak to today would not hear me. There is grace in the willingness to carry a burden in exchange for offering a hand to others who may be drowning. I do get frustrated at times because I want faster progress, but I don’t allow myself to indulge in that feeling for long. The reality is that I can look back on where I was at the date stamp on a class certificate on the wall over my desk – where I keep it for a quick reminder – if I ever doubt how far I have come. While taking that class I learned about the damage to my heart. It was 2011 – that spurring motivation that led me to taking back what had slipped away. At that point I got on my feet again, in spite of the pain. Every time I am sitting here pondering where I’d like to be as opposed to where I am, I lift my eyes to that date on the wall and remember barely being able to walk to the end of my block and back. I would love to say that I feel totally on track for Half Dome next year but I don’t. Regardless of that FEELING though, I am continuing forward. I will do this because I just have to. That’s passion.
I am thankful for whatever stumbled me onto the Rewild Your Life challenge that I participated in this year. In that 30 days I was able to strip away some layers built up from living in the city that were blocking my energy. This is a hard place to exist now.. between the need to fling open and keep open those doors to being plugged in to the natural world, and the need to put up walls to drown out the chatter, the rage, the noise, and the intrusion that happens when I am in the concrete instead of the riverbed. I am still figuring out how to balance that, but so far all I can do is keep running back to the woods whenever I can get loose and let myself fly. (Someday my hope is to live somewhere that don’t have to run away from regularly.) In some ways I feel like I can breathe again… and in others I feel assaulted every time I have to be anywhere public. I had forgotten how stressful it was to simply walk through a department store with other people. Everyone is so determined to be HEARD and SEEN, and about this idea that you have to know ME that they are literally screaming for attention. It hurts. That alone makes me want to run away.
Getting back to my car and slamming the door shut brings a sigh of relief.
When did so many people simply abandon the ability to express strength THROUGH serenity?
You are no less important when you use your two ears more than your one mouth.
That, in fact, is powerful.
One of the health conditions I live with is Orthostatic Intolerance because I have Dysautonomia. It does a couple of things. If I’m upright for too many hours, it feels like a strain on my heart.. that’s the best way to describe it. I have to literally get horizontal for relief for a while. It’s not as bad if I’m physically active and that after a very good night’s sleep. The less rest I get, the worse it is, and if I’m simply standing or sitting around as well. This is one of the reasons I’m able to hike trails with less distress than trying to just hang out with people at a gathering. If I disappear at a party you will probably find me someplace stretched out flat trying to get some balance back. It’s that simple. When I stand up after sitting for a while (like when you drive or sit down for a meal), my blood pressure also drops 20 to 30 points. It’s a dysregulation in autonomic systems – the ones you don’t usually have to think about like blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, respiration, etc. So…. when I step out of my car to walk to a store, that happens. When I walk across a parking lot, it usually starts to hit me about halfway to the door. (People who have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome can have this reaction as much as 12 minutes after standing and CAN pass out.) I can’t generally stand around in the parking lot and frankly that would waste a lot of time that I hate to sacrifice. I walk. When my BP starts dropping I feel lightheaded, and sometimes it dulls my hearing as my blood is trying really hard to get to my brain. I’ve read accounts from POTS patients who said their vision can be affected as well. They do the same thing I do. They walk. One foot in front of the other. It will pass. You’ll never see anything wrong unless one of us stops, says something about it, or ends up on the ground. I guarantee you’ve been around people with this condition and never known it. I’ve had this for so many years without knowing what it was that a good portion of my friends have been there when it’s happened without having a clue. I cover well.
I can remember stepping out of a sweatlodge with the instruction to plant your feet, stand firm, be strong. It’s no different than that for me. When you know that the situation is temporary you can determine to plant your feet… and just keep walking. There are proper times to let yourself set down into the earth and get grounded and converse with Mother, pour out your heart if need be. Just don’t set up camp there and forget to plant your feet again. Negative life experiences are temporary, even when they seem permanent. Go back to my tagline again… “Suffering is optional.”
Suffering is not the experience!
It’s how you choose to handle it. The negative is what’s temporary, even if the change is genuinely permanent. You are the only one who can make that adaptation happen. You have to choose not to take any backward steps. Even if you’re sliding, FACE FORWARD where you’re headed! Stop taking your eyes off of your goals to fret about what’s behind you. Leave it there.
I will readily admit to feeling emotional impulses that are not always healthy. It gets the best of us. It’s what you do about it that makes or breaks where you are at. Being a warrior is not all about being able to rage.
It’s about the wisdom to discipline your responses and knowing when to rage, and when to rest,
and how to keep facing forward the entire journey.
It’s about making a difficult but strong choice and then knowing how to lead without hesitation.
You may not have had the positive experiences to feel at ease out in nature. I used to take first-timers out on camping trips to deal with that. Oh, the memories. It may never be something you adore and run to the way that I do, but I want to encourage everyone to take the time at some point this year to get back to their roots of humanity – most especially if you have never done this. Get away from the city for at least a few hours and gaze into the flowing water of a river and listen to it’s musical voice. Stare up into a canopy of trees and feel the air that is also moving through it’s leaves. Let the wind blow through you. It’s time to recognize the basic connection we all share, and how small we really are as individuals. Trust me… it will diminish the enormity of so much anguish in your life.
Remember… We share the same air.