The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Monday, November 28, 2011
Personal Reflections ... Photo ...

I went up to Ringwood State Park on Saturday for my annual autumn hike. The weather was nice and I had a pretty good day, although my “trail sense” is not what it used to be. I had trouble following one trail (it wasn’t really marked all that well in certain spots) and wound up reversing direction and unintentionally backtracking, more than once. In each instance, I eventually recognized something I had passed previously and knew enough to turn around.

(I also brought a deer tick home, but managed to spot the little sucker before he could dig his way into my hide and transmit a nasty dose of Lyme Disease. Hope that none of his friends tagged along too.)

Being a student of Zen, I would like to turn my hikes into highly spiritual experiences. But they almost never wind up that way. Instead, it’s mostly marching along to get in as much mileage as possible, wondering if there are snakes or bears in this neck of the woods (mostly not where I was), trying to get to an interesting location before turning back, and starting to feel my legs and feet ache and gritting my teeth to get up and over the next uphill climb. About the only moments of contentedness come after I stopped for lunch and rested a few moments before getting back on the trail. And, of course, after getting home safely!

But I did have one little interaction that might qualify as a “Zen moment”. I was stopped near a trail head looking at a map, when a bearded fellow ambled down off the trail from the other direction. He looked at me and asked “are you looking for the turkey roast?” (an event that was probably held at the nearby picnic area). I looked at him and said “no, I don’t know what I’m looking for”. He took it completely in stride (bearded guys usually take such comments in stride), and said “just wandering, huh”. “Yea, that’s about all.” We then nodded and went our ways.

“Just wandering”. Yes, that just about says it all!

Here’s a pic from my wanderings that day, of a creek wandering its way into a lake:

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:46 pm      

  1. Jim, Once again a very lovely picture. Really lovely. One of those, one can find all sorts of lovely things in. A piece for meditation, I say.

    If I may make a suggestion: Perhaps the search for a “spiritual experience” would go better if you didn’t try to “get somewhere”, didn’t try to “get in as much mileage as possible”.

    Perhaps a slower approach, looking at the small things one sees on the trail, observing almost like dogs do–those who sniff at each piece of grass. I’ve often asked myself what can this dog possibly find interesting on each piece of grass but interesting he must find each one as he stops and sniffs individual blades of grass on a walk.

    With all due respect I offer this suggestion: That a slower approach may give you that “spiritual experience” you are seeking. Not saying I’m right; just saying maybe trying a slower approach, move observant approach to individual small things on the trail would work rather than an attempt to “get somewhere” or “put in mileage”; maybe that’s the secret in achieving what you are seeking.

    Then again, like all spiritual experiences they will come when they come and cannot be “forced”. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — November 29, 2011 @ 7:56 am

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