Recently I grew tired of my screensaver picture and searching for something new and fresh, found an image of a butterfly I'd taken in our flower garden last summer.
And what if one did break through? Then what? Did life suddenly become a breeze? I returned to the butterflies to see if they could further instruct me. What I learned was that when they emerged, their muscles were strong but their wings were limp. Before they could fly off, they had to take time to pump fluid into their wings and then let them harden.
I will soar.
posted by The Scamperer @ 2:38 PM
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January 6, 2007
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December 28, 2006
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It’s been a month now since I’ve been scampering, and I must say my walks certainly have a different rhythm to them. Whereas trundling was relaxing, scampering has been more aggressive and instead of being contemplative it’s more energetic. I like it! I have more vigour and more interest in accomplishing things now. Just recently, I tended the garden, finished the first draft of a one-act play, worked on my journal and wrote some poetry. Life has been very good.
I haven’t totally given up on being reflective though; it’s still an important part of my life – my way. So near the end of my walk I take off my shoes and try to listen to the earth through my feet. I’m not very good at it yet, but I continue to try. Terry Fox said: dreams come true when people try. So armed with my new mantra - failure isn’t about falling down, failure is about not getting back up again – I continue to try and to readjust to my new way. It’s a more harmonizing way and maybe that’s all Mother Earth is trying to tell me: take care of yourself dear one, and carry on.
Nurturing has been in my awareness a lot recently. After my dog, Morgan, died, I found I had a real need to transfer those instincts. The only others around were the birds, so they became “my kids.” Chickadees, blue jays and nuthatches came in the winter; rosy-breasted grosbeaks, northern flickers and cowbirds came in the early spring; and robins, grackles, hummingbirds, and purple finches visit these days.
Naming birds, I've found, leads to a curious phenomenon. I remember the first one I ever looked up in a book was the nuthatch – or “ass-up” as it is affectionately called. Before I knew its identity, I looked at it very carefully, noticing all its markings and observing its behaviour. But when I found it in my book and had a name for it, it seemed less remarkable. I don’t know why that is. So I tried to pay more attention to the chickadees over the winter, but even when I had them eating out of my hand, I couldn’t decipher one from the other. Sure some were skinnier or some had a rusty breast, but my untrained eye couldn’t find the key to their uniqueness. I will try again when I see them next. (Anyone have any suggestions?)
Another thing I’ve found curious is how different creatures come into my life and teach me different things. Birds really have taken over from my dog now. Sometimes Morgan would mother me and show me how to pay better attention, and sometimes I would mother her and comb her fur. Sometimes she would get me to groom her because she knew it would calm me down. It was quite a special relationship, and I feel that way with the birds now too. It’s so wonderful that they’ve built a nest in the fascia right outside my studio door. I can’t wait to see what hatches. Meanwhile, I’m right here if they need me – not that I’d imagine they would.
One of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen here are baby robins jumping out of their nest and taking their first flying lesson. Mom and dad were overhead keeping other birds and me away, dive bombing us if we came close. It was so cute how the chicks tried to run and take off. Mostly they waddled and did face-plants.
Another bird that has me intrigued is the turkey vulture. They're probably one of the ugliest birds in the world with their big, black bodies and little, red turkey heads, but I could watch them soar all day. I think they’re beautiful…and graceful…and free… and I feel that way myself just watching them. Boy I’d love to catch a ride somehow. Two came so close the other day, I thought they were going to offer me one, but they were just teasing. Here’s a poem I wrote about one of the lessons I've learned from observing them:
To soar above…
To soar above…
Maybe the next transformation of this column will be Flying Along the White Trail.
Here it is May, again - a year since I wrote my first column. It came about after a group of friends and I discussed what our dreams were and how we were going to go about fulfilling them. In first year media writing at Ryerson’s Radio and Television Arts program, one of our early assignments was a personal essay. I quite enjoyed that and thought it was something I was meant to do. But I got busy with other writing and soon forgot about it. This last year, fulfilling that desire, has been a dream come true. There’s nothing like doing what it is you’ve dreamt about and having the result meet the expectation.
I started trundling along the White Trail eleven years ago when I got my dog, Morgan. She, like most dogs, loved to snoop, so instead of forcing her to move at my athletic pace, I went along with her playful one. In so doing, I was treated to many wonders, many stories and many lessons. The most important insight was: All the answers are within; nature balances us so we can hear them.
Last year, as I wrote Trundling Along the White Trail, I searched and searched for answers, and the questions were: who am I, and why do I behave this way? I had lost a sense self: a sense of whom I was, and it was making me feel heavy, lethargic and numb. I kept reading books looking for answers, and the advice was there except I wasn’t doing anything about it. Nature, too, was telling me to struggle and emerge - everyone and everything was - and thanks to a bear, I finally got it.
I was out on the trail on a lovely day mid April walking with my shoes in hand, when thirty feet ahead, I saw a big brown guy the size of a couch scamper away. The bear had just woken up and would have been very hungry. It could have attacked me but it didn’t. I stood my ground and all of a sudden I noticed my heart was lifted and I was feeling very powerful. At that moment, I felt protected. I knew I was not alone and that there was more to life than what can be seen and touched. I had read about the oneness of all life, and understood about it, but I had never felt it like that before.
This knowing, this feeling of connection to a greater realm was what I had been searching for. And now that I’ve crossed its threshold, it's time to come out of hibernation and start scampering on.
Joseph Campbell said: “Life is not a process of discovery. It is a process of creation.” So I started by renovating a sleeping cabin and making it into my studio. A friend donated a pullout couch to replace the bed, I found an old school desk and rug in the basement, the lamp was coming from the garage and I brought my musical instruments up too. Nothing matches, but that’s okay. I’ve always wanted my own space, and now I’ve got it. It’s time to get out the list of the hundred things I want to do in life and get on with them.
Reflection is a good thing, but only as a means to an end. At some point, I’ve come to realize, you have to stop thinking about what you want and start being who you want to be no matter what. The point of all my struggling was to define who I was and who I was not and then to emerge - to choose who it is I want to be. This act of creation is both far-reaching and humbling for it aligns me with the energy of life itself. Life is creation; creation is life.
So off I go alone now, picking up the pace - scampering into the wilderness. I have no idea what will come of it. This monthly column may wind up as a personal essay, a short story or even a collection of photographs and poems. Who knows? But isn’t mystery what makes life exciting.
THE GREAT CONSPIRACY
April 15, 2006I emailed a copy of the column I wrote on The Senses to Dr. Glenn Morris, my Chi Kung teacher, and he thought it was my best yet. I replied saying, wait for the next one; it was going to be about the metaphor I noticed while working in the sugar shack. Except he didn't wait; he died in his sleep April 1. At first I thought it was a bad joke, but when the shock wore off, I realized he had one more lesson to teach me. Here's what I never got to send:TRUE SWEETNESSAs I hauled buckets of sap around our sugar bush, the line from the movie The Power of One came to mind again: "All the answers are in nature, if you know where to look…and how to ask." Walking around emptying the 200 pails, I couldn't help but think there was an answer for me here. Trees being tapped, sweetness flowing, fire blazing in the belly of the evaporator: these were the elements of great myths. I just didn't know what the question was.
A few days later, while feeding the fire, I gazed out the window and watched the sap drip from a tree up the hill. All my senses were awakened and the answer began to flow.
We're like trees, it seemed. We all have sap flowing, but not everyone gets tapped into. Those who do must leave the comfort and safety of their home only to be put through a huge, life-changing ordeal.
Here's how sap is processed at our sugar bush: first, it's collected in pails; then it's gathered and tossed into a huge vat; then it's funnelled into the evaporator where it starts getting hot; then it gets really, really hot; then it's poured through a filter; then just when it thinks its trial is over, it's put into a finishing pan to be purified even more. Finally it's filtered one more time, bottled, and voila, the transformation is complete.
As it turns out, the story of sap becoming syrup is one of nature's examples of the myth called The Hero's Journey. Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, and Luke Skywalker, in Star Wars, go through the exact same process. They are thrust out of their homes, sent on a journey, struggle through numerous ordeals, have one last test, and then become aware of who they truly are. Taking a step back, I realized this is exactly what we all must do if we want to become our true, sweet selves.
"If you don't go out into the forest, nothing will happen and your life will never begin." I understood this concept, but there was still something missing.
The next day, back at the sugar bush, I asked for clarification and heard: "In order to be purified, one must pass through the heat." And then I understood that no transformation happens on the couch. Insights may occur, but transformation (like wisdom) only comes from bringing together knowledge with action. If action is limited, or the fire within is only smouldering, the journey will be long. But if the fire is roaring, progress will be rapid and the sweetness will come quicker.
I wish the story ended there, but apparently it does not. You see, beside the evaporator is a bucket of sap. We use it to slow down the processing if we have to go out for another pick-up. And as I was getting ready to do just that, dilute the boil, I realized I diluted myself too – I watered down my own power, and my own flavour, with feelings of inadequacy. How sad that I afflict myself in this way. But with awareness comes power, and if I want to experience my true nature in its purest form, I must stop. For the sweetness I am seeking in life won't come from chocolates or cake or ice cream. It will come from boiling off all the debilitating thoughts, people and actions that water me down.
So it turns out the question I was seeking was: Why am I still not who I want to be? And the answer is: Turn up the fire and stop diluting yourself.
I was telling a student that Glenn's life's work was about gathering information on religion and the martial arts, bringing it all together, and then boiling it down to its sweetest form – the course he set up and taught. And as I thought about that and the maple syrup process, I realized his last lesson: Struggle and emerge. We're all conspiring to show you the way.Comments: email@example.com
posted by The Trundler at 9:10 AM 1 comments
EXPLORING THE SENSES
March 15, 2006
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THE FIRE WITHIN
February 8, 2006
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December 20, 2005
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November 23, 2005
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SONGS OF LIFE
October 4, 2005
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MYSTERIES OF LIFE
September 21, 2005
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August 10, 2005
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August 10, 2005
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KEY TO HAPPINESS
July 27, 2005
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July 14, 2005
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THE GREAT PEPPER MIRACLE!
June 29, 2005
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TRUSTING THE PATH
June 15, 2005
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THE TEACHER APPEARS
June 1, 2005
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May 18, 2005