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Pictures ‘n’ Prose

Today was a gorgeous walk through the Galician mountains. My original thought was simply to post a whole bunch of pictures without any text because it felt like words would just get in the way of the ineffable beauty. Then I remembered something I wrote the last time I was lost in scenery that looked a lot like this and I thought it was appropriate given the setting and the last three days of “finding myself lost.” So, for what it’s worth…

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Found Myself Lost

I set off on a hike this afternoon in search of a lake I saw roughly marked on a trail map of the Redwood Forest here in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I walked and I climbed and I twisted and I turned and I turned again and I turned some more until I was completely turned around.

I was lost.

No lake in sight, barely a trail marked well enough for a cartographer to notice.

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I didn’t panic but I certainly began to fret…Would I miss my next meeting? Would they miss me? Would my jacket keep me warm enough once the sun set? Would I remember any of the survival skills I learned at Wilderness Camp? Can I still make a fire and shelter from sticks? Should I ration the protein bar in my backpack? Did I have enough water?… okay, maybe I was a tad closer to a dither. Before a full-blown panic could attack me, I stopped.

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“Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here and you must treat it as a powerful stranger. Must ask it permission to know it and be known. The forest breathes. Listen. It answers. The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.”

These sage words of David Wagoner whispering from my memory.

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I decided to believe that Here was exactly where I was supposed to be Now.

So, I looked around and asked permission to know and be known in the unknown.

I heard the forest breathing. And the forest heard my questions.

It answered by drawing my attention to the life that was all around me. Life, that had I not been lost, I would never had experienced.
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Like a mouse following the Pied Piper, I followed the bubbling brook which led me to a Shaman of the forest, the mighty grandfather of the tribe of trees, the chief Red Man of the Redwoods. My body bent over and bowed before my mind could stop it with ridicule for thinking a tree could even know I was giving it honor.

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Have you ever wondered what the color green smells like? What the unknown feels like on the skin? What silence sounds like? Get lost in the middle of a dark forest.

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Before even attempting to wind and find my way back to the well-marked road, I thought of the many other times in my life I have strayed off the straight and narrow and found myself lost.

Found myself lost.

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That’s what always seems to happen in the end. I was never lost. I was looking for myself and could only find me when I lost me.

When I roamed from the home where I no longer belonged.

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I am not as afraid of the fear of getting lost, wandering off the path, meandering in the wilderness. That is where the secrets of life hide. Vitality that arises with floods of adrenaline that go hand-in-hand with fear of the unknown – the uncontrollable mystery.

I think I would get lost more often if it were more clearly marked on a map. 🙂

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