The Trail Was Covered With Good Hard Packed Snow
I was grateful to be hiking first thing New Year’s morning. For good reason.
The woods have kept me sane and that hasn’t been an easy task. I realize more and more how much of an oddball I am. Probably an unwound ADD or ADHD. Take your pick.
I wouldn’t have thought so most of my life.
But I live out here with a good many retirees in my age bracket — 70’s and up, with several in their 90’s. And most of them are well-off, living comfortably on their pensions and assets. And virtually all of them had careers that made sense.
But I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, which I am right now.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not whining. I am simply explaining how the trails have kept me from going way off really bonkers.
I Was Particularly Aware of It On New Year’s Day
I slept only three and a half hours New Year’s Eve, and had to finally get up at 4:30 tossing and turning the last hour.
I was bothered by bad dreams I went in and out of so much of the night. They were very disturbing, for they focused on so many of my failures and bad judgements.
Face it, a normal guy doesn’t go through five marriages.
A halfway normal guy has a job, business, or career that he’s spent the lion’s share of his adult life at until he retires.
I had a sketchy career, tossing away opportunity after opportunity throughout my working life.
And on New Year’s Day I awoke depressed. Really down on myself.
I guess the dreaming was because I’d just gotten back into editing a spiritual biography I wrote a couple of years ago and have let it lay on a shelf untouched ever since.
It’s Actually a Good Read
In order to tell of spiritual gains I also had to cover the rough, dirty little secrets that barely anyone knows about that prompted me to get spiritual.
So, I took a hike to gain some peace and joy. And I came home feeling contented again.
In fact, living out here I am happier now than I’ve ever been.
It’s a lot because of the therapeutic value of hiking. It is from just focusing my attention on the sound of the feet crunching the crisp, squeaky snow.
Hiking is my daily morning meditation.
I pause and come to stillness for a moment before I start my hike. Then, I set off with my senses wide open to the touch, feel and sounds of the woodlands. Hiking enables me to stay in the stillness that underlies all of nature. That peace is there for the taking. Always at the heart of the forests, streams, mountains and deserts. It is there to heal us and all of nature.
It works. It quickly restores me to health to begin each day.
The Bitch About Life
For some of us the bitch is the mistakes we make. Mine weren’t so bad that I put anyone in the hospital or a grave. Or even behind bars. Except for what my mistakes did to me. They were all about my self-centeredness.
I wanted life to be peaches and cream all the time. I wanted to avoid plain vanilla boredom. And certainly no castor oil moments.
So what do you do if you want life to be nothing but a big high all the time? Of course, take a shot, a puff and sex!
Okay, except I wanted it all the time. Nothing else! And damned the hang-overs!
And damned being unable to recall where I’d parked the car. Which really wasn’t so bad as seeing the blood on my face in the mirror. Or recall someone laying on a bar room floor who oughtn’t to have been there.
And worse yet, waking up looking at bars — the iron type not the jolly ones.
Or those awful downers that needed another pick-me-up.
To be fair, I had a way of turning these darker moments into light — and doing the next right thing. At least occasionally.
But, it’s all in the book. And also the spiritual growth that straightened me out. That too is in the book.
Editing it caused me to wake up depressed the New Year’s morning. So I took the hike.
Putting Purpose Back Into My Life
Missing the mark so often in early adulthood I eventually found help in Alcoholics Anonymous. Along with The School of Practical Philosophy I came to trust God to show me a way through the darkness of the future.
It’s as though God holds a lantern out before me, allowing me to see just a few steps ahead. I’ve learned to trust they are taking me onto “the next right thing.”
As I said in the beginning, because the woods are so strong a pull at emptying my mind of all concerns other than watching my next step along the trail, it brings me to the peace that is always there, and which is beyond all possibility of understanding. As the Apostle Paul promised, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds.”
I tell the whole story in the book that caused my bad dreams.
I have’n’t got the material wealth I once had. But what I have gives me more joy than I deserve. And the trails keep this Old Geezer sane — such as it is.
Actually, you don’t even have to try to make a hike into a meditation to get your sanity. Just put one foot in front of the other and that works wonders.
But, I do give as much attention as I can to the present moment as I tread the happy trail of my destiny. Out there on a trail.
Who knows? At 87, how many more moments do I still have left?
So, if not enjoy it now, then when?