blank'/> Mirth, Melancholy, and the Mundane: Just Breathe...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just Breathe...

The following is a transcript of some free writing I did this afternoon.  I don't often hand write things because I find that my hand cannot keep up with my brain in any meaningful, legible way.  There are times, however, where I make an exception for some reason.  Today was one of those times...I did not overthink it much, I did not take the time to edit or craft it.  I just put it from paper to screen.


I'm sitting in the Arboretum as I write this.  It is probably my favorite place to be of late, especially near to home.  My summer was full of turmoil - much of it of my own making - and I often retreated here for solace and to escape the noise of the whirlwind around me.  Numerous visits for several months brought me from late spring through summer and now into fall.  This has afforded me the opportunity to see the change from the growth of spring to the vibrancy of summer and now the slow decay of autumn as Mother Earth prepares herself for the long winter to come.  It is hard to stay lost in man-made desperation and chaos when each step rattles the world -- a chipmunk darts across the path ahead, while a turtle slips into the waters to one side and something rustles in the dry leaves on the other.  There is silence, but it is folded into the scurrying of unseen creatures, the call of the bullfrog, the song of hidden birds.  From visit to visit, the swamp would rise and fall according to the will of the rain, and a single leaf falls or countless cascade around me at the will of the wind.  Not a single care I bring with me can stop this ebb and flow of nature's endless cycle.  I have watched the brook near to bursting from spring's powerful torrents and cautiously stepped around fallen logs and bending branches which were not there the walk before.  I have startled wildlife, sat in the sunlight, been drench in a sudden downpour.  I have wiped sweat from my eyes as I peered into a tree where two herons perched and crept as quiet as may be towards sunbathing turtles, hoping to capture them in frozen image before they slipped away.  I have peered fruitlessly into the trees trying to see what rustled in the undergrowth or hopped from branch to branch.  I have had camera on hand in exactly the right moment to capture snakes, crawdads, a rainbow of birds and flowers, dragonflies and bees, a fawn and a snapping turtle.  All allowed me to step into their world and, for a time, live there in respectful distance, my errands no less important than theirs.  My survival differently but equally dependent on what I found there.  

I have sat for hours on the board walk, on a log, on a patch of leaves, on a grassy hill above the wetlands, searching for peace and coming closer to it than I dared hope.  Immersing myself in nature is profoundly moving in seemingly contradictory ways - I feel at once alone and yet in tune with the vibrant life around me.  I feel insignificant but somehow an intricate part of something powerful at the same time.  I am equally enamored of a bug skimming the surface of the water as I am of the trees pushing their way towards the bluest of skies.  Each remind me of the strength and grace that nature gives both her largest and smallest creatures.  Each intricate leaf, each unnamed plant, each unrecognized flower, each sound I cannot place is part of me and I of it.  I owe my soul and my heart to the hours I've spent listening to my own footsteps, hearing my own heartbeat, feeling the air fill my own lungs, and taking in each minute beautiful detail of the world with my own eyes.  This is peace  - I come seeking it, outwardly, and find it within.  Tranquility in endless movement and chaotic rhythms.  Finding beauty in a submerged log, a fallen leaf, browned grasses pushing through a stump half drowning in swampy waters.  No matter what ails me, what troubles I found or made, life will go on.  Birth from death, renewal from decay, the promise of a greater tomorrow. And even in the crumpled leaf and the broken twig, there is hope and beauty and promise.  Serenity.


There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more.
—Lord Byron, “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”

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