"A Springtime Moment"
- along a wilderness trail -
Spring has arrived in the desert valley where I live, and along with the beautiful springtime weather all the many tourists who visit here at this time of year have also arrived. Most every day I go out for a walk on one of the many wideness trails outside my house and many times I am the only person on the trail, but yesterday I ran into all sorts of people out enjoying a perfectly wonderful springtime day in the desert.
As I walked along the wilderness path, I was struck by a sudden flash of insight. I wasn’t just out taking a walk and getting some exercise. My walk was teaching me an important spiritual lesson about how to walk a path of wisdom in everyday life.
Yesterday, as I made my way along the wilderness path, the first persons who passed me by were a pair of serious and very determined bikers. They almost knocked me down as they whizzed past me at record speed on their “racing bikes.”
The next person to come along was a runner who also seemed very serous and intent on accomplishing a goal and reaching a destination. He had earbuds plugged into a smartphone, perhaps listening to a podcast, maybe listening to his iTunes. As he passed me by we never even made eye contact.
Then came a mom wheeling her toddler in a baby stroller as she talked on her phone rather loudly making plans to meet someone for lunch at a local restaurant, and she was followed by a man and woman engaged in a vigorous conversation, complaining about the horrible service at the hotel where they were staying.
The next person I encountered literally “stopped me in my tracks.” She was standing alone off to the side of the path, silently gazing at a patch of some beautiful yellow wildflowers sprouting up out of the desert sand. As I got near to her she turned to me with a big bright smile and said, “I just never knew a desert could be so gorgeous, it’s still below freezing where I come from. What a glorious day it is today, everything smells so fresh doesn’t it?”
Then, I suddenly realized something - up to that point I was more like the racers and the runners and the couple who was complaining. I was walking the path of beauty but I never actually noticed how beautiful everything was - my mind was distracted and cluttered by so many other thoughts, and maybe I hadn’t noticed all the beauty because I was so used to seeing it every day?
I was walking on the path but I wasn’t really present.
I am reminded of one of my favorite lines from a book of Buddhist essays that I read from time to time.
Whatever we are looking for is already right here,
We are usually elsewhere –that’s the problem.
When we pay attention to our everyday life
we discover something truly wonderful.
Our regular old lives are actually incredibly joyful,
amazingly, astoundingly, relentlessly joyful
My encounter on the path yesterday helped me to “come to my senses” as I realized that all that I am looking for in my life is already right here but I am usually elsewhere- that’s the problem.
On the wilderness trail, I “stopped in my tracks” and stood next to that tourist from Canada who showed me all that I had been missing. Together we marveled at those beautiful spring flowers growing out of dry desert sand. The sky was crystal clear and the air pristine on an early spring morning - the sweet smell of sage and lavender was intoxicating.
I love a little piece of wisdom, Buddhist monk and author, Thich Nhat Hanh, teaches:
Walk as if your feet are kissing the earth.
Today when I go out for my wilderness walk, I will try to make my feet kiss the earth as I pay attention to every step I take along the way - wise advice for all of us as we make our way through the wilderness of life.