Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Gift of the White Trail

From The Times, Minden, Ontario, Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Welcome and welcome back. My name is Marci Mandel and I wrote a similar column in the now-defunct Highlands Communicator. The previous one’s title changed through the years as did my state of mind: from Trundling Along the White Trail, to Scampering Along the White Trail, and finally to Dancing Along the White Trail.  Five years ago, I thought the ultimate title would be Flying Along the White Trail, but now I see things a little differently.

I live in the Queen Elizabeth Wildlands (QEW) Provincial Park at the south-west corner of the county. When my husband and I first bought here in 1992, we were out back exploring and found white paint slashes on the rocks and white tags in the trees.  Not knowing what they were, we forevermore called it The White Trail. It wasn’t until stopping in to the Hike Ontario office that I found this was actually the wilderness section of the vast Ganaraska Hiking Trail system that comes up from Lake Ontario at Port Hope then goes over to Glen Huron, just south of Georgian Bay.

I spent over eleven years walking Morgan, our Great Pyrenees, on, around and across the trails through all seasons and weather and gained an intimacy with the life force saturating it. I learned how to attune myself to Nature and connect with her in a profound way. (I capitalize Nature because I’ve come to know it as a distinct presence.)  When I can let go and relax into her loving arms, a whole new realm opens in which all I need is provided: wisdom, belonging, and adoration. Yes, adoration. Laying on the grass or standing under the stars, or floating on the water, I can feel a presence that’s telling me I too am a gift, I too belong in this infinitely magical universe.

So what’s this column about?  You may have figured that out already, but indulge me with a story. My five year-old grandson was up for the March break so I borrowed the Amazing Spiderman DVD from the library. He loved the movie and watched it over and over and over again. About the sixth time, I sat down and watched the ending with him and was surprisingly moved. 

It was the first day of college and Peter Parker entered a lecture hall.  He walked in late and saw his true love at a desk near the top.  She saw him.  He longingly looked at her.  She longingly looked at him.  Meanwhile in the background, the professor was introducing the literature course and said something like: it’s been said there are fundamentally only ten different plot lines- but really there is only one: Who am I?

This struck me because it’s what I have always written about: “Know thyself.”

So, who am I? To begin with, I am a woman in my mid-fifties, a wife, a step-mother, nana, writer, photographer, movie-maker, baker, swimmer, friend, sister, daughter, musician, adventurer, canoeist, and explorer of life. I am also so much more.

With this new column, my intention is to explore something new.  In the past I’ve written about how I have evolved in my understanding of life: learning about connection, energy and awareness. This time I will try to focus on and evolve in my appreciation of life and all it holds.  If life is a gift, is then not everything in it also a gift?  Is it possible that suffering and loss can be gifts?

Right now, as I am being swarmed by hungry and thirsty biters, I have to wonder about my theory.  But hey, that should make it interesting! 

Let’s see.

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