Archive for April, 2013

April 29, 2013

Heartbreak – a journey (in three quotes)

Heartbreak: a journey (in three quotes):

The breaking of so great a thing
should make a greater crack.
(William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra)

She took a step and didn’t want to take any more,
but she did.
(Markus Zusak, The Book Thief)

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.
(Mary Oliver)

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April 29, 2013

Observed on the street: A circle of life, turning, turning

I came across this beautiful rendition of the aboriginal medicine wheel (also called the wheel of life or the sacred hoop) on the outer wall of my local/district community arts council building:

wheel_of_life

 

I love the grounding stones at centre; the depiction of the cycles of nature, the seasons, the sun; the symbolism of birth, growth, death and rebirth — of life itself.  I love how the prints of humans and animals exist together in the soil, intermingled with the roots of the trees, connected to both the seeds of life and the earth to which all living things eventually return.  I love how each component of the circle relies on every other for balance, for continuity, for solidity, for completeness.

We are all one, forever united in the loop of this enduring narrative.  We share the same history; we share the same future.  Let’s take care of one another the best we can.  Peace.

April 22, 2013

Book Recommendation – “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

Nearly half way through her 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed watched the hiking boots she had just taken off sail over a ledge, cartwheel through the air, and disappear forever into a carpet of trees far below.  Bootless yet undaunted, Strayed continued her hike.

Gritty is one way to describe Strayed’s book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, in which she tells the tale of her solo three-month trek on a long-distance hiking route that spans 2,663 miles and crosses nine mountain ranges in the states of California, Oregon and Washington.

But the book is also very human. Besides the boot fiasco and other unexpected obstacles — like record snowfalls that buried portions of the trail, and having to hike 100 miles with only two cents in her pocket — Strayed trudged through a landslide of grief over the failure of her marriage, the death of her mother, and the disintegration of her family as she knew it.

Alternately laugh-out-loud funny, eyes-bug-out awe-inspiring, and crumble-inside heart-wrenching, Wild is the story of not just a physical hike, but a trek to pull the loose strands of a fraying life together into a new and cohesive whole. . . one step at a time.

Highly recommended.

Cover image of the book "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" by Cheryl Strayed

“Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed

April 18, 2013

Poetic wisdom for open eyes and a wild heart

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean —
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

April 16, 2013

Observed on the trail: Faces in the trees

I came across these two wonderfully intricate carvings peering out at me from tree trunks along a path in Prince George’s Cottonwood Island Park:

Intricate carving of the face of an Indian chief in the bark of a tree           Intricate carving of the face of an old, bearded man in the bark of a tree trunk.

April 10, 2013

Redefining beauty

This quote from Barbara Bloom brings new perspective to the trials and tribulations we all weather in our lives:

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.

You are beautiful, cracks and all.  Believe it.  ❤

April 9, 2013

What do you need right now?

Another beautiful passage from Kelly Winters’ book Walking Home:  A Woman’s Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail:

What do I need now?  I wonder.  To live and feel and sense deeply, to fill up on experiences and emotions and events, to be open to newness and to people, to lose any masks I wear, to lighten my load — physically, emotionally and spiritually — to laugh, to sing, to commune.

An excellent set of guideposts by which set life’s compass, don’t you think?

April 8, 2013

The prize for walking the slowest

One of my all-time favourite books is Walking Home:  A Woman’s Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail by Kelly Winters. The book is a memoir of Winters’ six-month hike along the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine — a journey that requires trekking 10-20 miles or more each day, day after day after day, in order to complete the full distance before the snow flies.  Trail hikers often become obsessed with going as far as they can as fast as they can, writes Winters, noting one particular campfire discussion about “trail records” held by people who hiked or ran the Trail in the fewest number of days.  I love what Winters has to say next:

If I ever had to set a Trail record, I’d want the prize for walking it in the slowest time.  I’d hike two miles a day and look at every flower, every stone, every view and every footprint, and I’d spend every afternoon watching clouds, talking to birds, and chatting with other hikers.

Such is the art of being truly present — of being unrushed, of living in the moment, of being aware of your surroundings and engaging with them, of simply being a part of the world instead of burning on by it on the fast track to somewhere else.

The prize for walking the slowest.  Something worth aspiring to, I’d say.

April 5, 2013

Book Recommendation – “The Raven’s Gift” by Jon Turk

The Raven’s Gift chronicles adventurer Jon Turk‘s journey to healing and self-awareness over six years of travel on the Siberian tundra and a series of encounters with a “magic” that permeates the natural world and connects it (and us) to the spiritual realm.  Insightful and incredibly well written, Turk’s story is a reminder of both life’s fragility and its resilience.  His experiences suggest that moments of awareness, connectedness and self-understanding are out there waiting for us, if only we trust enough to switch off our rational minds and just believe.  “It’s not how we seek self-awareness,” writes Turk, ” it’s whether we take the time and energy to make the journey [italics added].”  An excellent read.

 

Image of the cover of the book "The Raven's Gift: A Scientist, a Shaman, and Their Remarkable Journey Through the Siberian Wilderness" by Jon Turk

“The Raven’s Gift: A Scientist, a Shaman, and Their Remarkable Journey Through the Siberian Wilderness” by Jon Turk

April 4, 2013

Why I love (northern) B.C. – A peculiar sign of spring

From a local newspaper in my northern B.C. community:

Spring is in the air.  One way to tell is the number of people you see shovelling snow from their lawns back onto their driveways.

Ha! 🙂

(For those of you who don’t know:  Snow melts faster when it’s spread out in a thin layer rather than piled in huge mounds.  Moving snow from the tall piles alongside your driveway — where you shovelled it during in the winter — back onto your clear driveway surface — where it will melt and evaporate during the day — means that you’ll see your lawn a heck of a lot sooner than you would otherwise!)