My Lavender Harvesting ZEN. An example of a Zensory Experience in Nature. ZENs – fostering spiritual development in young children and adults. Connect with me to learn more about my ZENs project and mission! Facebook: Penned by LindseyAnn, LinkedIn: LindseyAnn, Instagram @pennedbylindseyann
Several weekends ago I headed into the woods on what was to be the first stop on a local excursion to snap photos for the WPC Local (WordPress Photo Challenge), but I ended up spending hours alone, exploring the trails; immersed in nature; in solitude; in quiet.
There are three marked trails in this forested area and all three cross over and co-mingle with each other in various locations. Some are well groomed while others are more rugged. Some are even unmarked!
As I travailed through the forest all up in my head, I began to contemplate why an outing as this brings me such solace. I know myself well enough to understand that nature is a very healing place for me regardless of the season or the milieu. I am just as much a zen baby in the woods as I am at the beach. I prefer the beach in the off seasons than in summer and in early morning or evening (during the summer) as opposed to during the day. It is impossible for me to truly hear the ocean’s voice when it is drowning in the cacophony of human jabbering.
In the woods, it tends to be quieter no matter what the season. On this particular trek, I barely encountered a soul despite the beautiful day in Fall. What continued to bubble up in my mind was the sense of adventure that the forest gifts us. While many paths were manicured and marked, I tended to be attracted to the more rugged and unmarked trails I discovered. Why is this? Why do I gravitate to the path less traveled? The path unknown? What is it that I am searching for?
I’m not sure I fully understand why the more difficult trail appeals to me, but it probably has something to do with my love of solitude, and maybe even a need to prove to myself that I can navigate successfully on my own. At 54 one would think I should have this ingrained, but I guess I don’t completely, and I’m ok with that. Sometimes I actually do choose an easier route, especially so when visiting the quarry where I rock climb, but I digress.
The other realization and insight I gleaned from this hours long ambling through the wooded wonderland was the multitude of occasions upon which I ended at a crossroads. Which way did I want to go? Which path did I want to take? Which one looked less traveled? But yet, I didn’t want to miss anything hidden within the paths I chose to ignore. Now in this small forest, I can easily revisit and opt to explore the other pathways, even though they wind back around on each other. Not always so in life.
What have I missed by choosing the paths I have walked? Was there a lesson I missed? I don’t have any regrets on where I am in life or of the paths I have taken thus far. I am very grateful for what I have, what I have accomplished thus far, and for where I am headed. I like to believe that if I missed a treasure on a path I chose to ignore that maybe either I didn’t need to discover it or that it will appear on a path yet to be chosen.
So I will continue to find nuggets of inspiration and insight as I traipse through the forest, through life, and dare to go deeper into the woods. For there is where the real treasures are hidden, and maybe that is why I am so drawn to the darker, more rugged path less traveled.
The leaves in my area have been slow to turn, and the colors not all as vivid this autumn due to a lack of rain. We are in a drought. Not a severe drought, but a drought nonetheless. When I heard this from my trainer, several weeks ago, something clicked within me.
Drought. A lack of water, of sustenance, of cleansing. Drought. Physical, emotional, spiritual. That is how I have been feeling. Spiritually in a drought. In need of an emotional and spiritual storm to clear out and cleanse. Wash away the dirt, the grime, the pain, the sadness. Clear away the clouds.
It has taken me a few weeks to write on this. Last week’s storm derailed me.
Several weeks ago I committed to attending a beach retreat scheduled for last weekend. I was so excited to be going to the beach. It had been almost two decades since I had buried my feet in the sand, listened to the waves crashing on the shore, felt the cold water splash my legs, rinse my feet.
I was so excited. 20 years since I felt the pull of the water raking the sand from under my feet; jostling my steadiness, sinking me deeper into the shore. It seemed to be just what I needed to correct my drought. A good cry on the beach to jar loose the dirt, the grime, dead debris. I was so ready for this trip. Heading into the weekend with a loose plan, but open to what experiences would come to me.
Alas, a storm came a few days before leaving for the beach. I almost backed out of the trip. Nevertheless, I went. Heavy hearted and wanting so desperately for my internal storm to rage up and vent upon first sight of the mighty waves crashing upon the shore. It didn’t. Maybe tomorrow, I hoped.
The weekend weather was summer’s final appearance; sunny, 70-80 degrees. I was happy. I felt peaceful. I posted photos, sharing my contented moments via social media. I met new people.
I allowed myself to open up a bit yet never manifesting the internal storm continuing to churn within me. I tried so fervently to bring it to a head in my solitude, as I stood in the sand, waves lapping my legs. Epic fail. No tears. No sobbing. No rain. Just endless waves rhythmically bathing the shore.
Feelings of peace, of bliss, of gratitude immersing my soul. Yet deep down, the storm churned, precluding eruption, denying the purge. Nourishing further my drought, or so I thought.
I felt guilty. Allowing myself to have fun, to be happy; yet remaining aware of the storm within me; the storm taking place 150 miles back home. I felt torn. Sending comforting and consoling texts back home, amidst posting happy photos on Facebook. Grateful for the opportunity to fill my soul, realign with the rhythms of the ocean, yet conscious of the grief harboring in my soul, conscious of those languishing back home.
For two days, I embraced the healing spirit of the tides; cuddled in the arms of Rehoboth’s quaintness, snuggled in my solitude, and acquiesced to the cessation of my drought; albeit not in the expression I preferred.
I wanted a tempest, a mighty monsoon, a deluge, a ravaging hurricane of tears. Instead, my drought doused with summer warmth, sun-filled heavens, cool sea breezes, and refreshing ocean tides.
Home a week now, the churning storm has subsided; blown out to sea no doubt. My drought is waning with each word I write, each post I share, and each visit with the ones I hold dear. My gratitude is stronger. My blessings are more vivid. Faith and belief are ever growing clearer.
The torrential downpour that never manifested may rear up later down the road. For now, my soul, nourished by the ocean, not entirely sated, but no longer parched, can begin once again to flow, maybe not as mighty waves in an ocean, but at least as a few ripples in a pond.
Last week, a storm hit, by way of a phone call. A destructive storm. A storm so unexpected, I never saw it coming. I was totally unprepared. A storm so forceful, it uprooted deep internal mire. Churning up the darkest, deepest emotions of pain, choices, consequences, life, and death. Churning up unfairness. Churning up loss. Churning up survivors’ guilt. Churning up helplessness. Churning up the inevitable “why” questions that never yield meaningful answers because there just aren’t any.
Churning up anger, first at the ethereal energy or being with which one recognizes and identifies. Anger misdirected because we cannot bear to direct it accurately. Why did you allow this? Why didn’t you prevent this? Why…? Why…? Why…?
Anger at ourselves, also misdirected because we cannot bear to lay it at the appropriate feet. At the feet of the one who left us with consequences for which we did not ask. “I should have…” “I could have…”
Laying the anger at the right feet may come, maybe soon, maybe never, hopefully later. Later; when strength and insight, compassion and love allow us to see that it isn’t really anger that we feel; but a deep and painful sadness for what could have been had choices been different. Sadness, deep sadness, for discerning what “free will” unconditionally means; for understanding how “free will” can manifest in others.
How can I console and comfort them when I am crying; aching in sadness at yet another loss. In pain, having gone through this before. In pain, watching them go through this for the first time. In pain, knowing that it may not be the last time. In pain, just wanting the madness that continues to stop. STOP! Please STOP! Damn it, STOP!
Enough loss. Enough death. Enough goodbyes. ENOUGH! Enough souls being removed from this Earth before ever fully gifting their talent. Enough of the Russian Roulette. Enough of the denial. Enough of the “it won’t be me.” This time it was. Enough of the silence. Enough of the pretending it isn’t my responsibility. Enough of the stigmas. ENOUGH! Damn it, ENOUGH!
Why couldn’t he be one of the lucky ones? Why couldn’t he have gotten a second chance? Why couldn’t someone have been there for him, like it was for me? Why…? Why…? Why…? No answers. Only pain. No answers. Only sorrow. No answers. Just “if only’s.” If only I had… If only he had… If only someone had… If only it had… If only we had…
Family, friends, co-workers, bosses, teachers, classmates, administrators, medical professionals, social workers, friends of friends, family of friends, strangers, everyone, anyone, someone, but never no one…all thinking the same thoughts, asking the same unanswerable questions, positing the same if only’s… Such a wide net tragedy’s pain casts with its ripples.
What words do I have to console them as we cry together? I can only muster, “I am so sorry that you are going through this.” I whisper, “There are no answers to your questions.” I choke as I say, “I know how painful this is for you” “My heart aches for you.” “I would take this pain from you if I could” All else I think of to say just doesn’t seem appropriate for the time. Maybe later. Weeks later. Months later. Maybe never.
So I remain silent, listening to them cry while wiping away my tears, and then softly saying, “Lean on your friends, you all need each other.” “Lean on those in the rooms; many have been through this at least once already.” “Lean on your family; we have been through this before.” “I am here for you.” “You are on my heart.” “I am thinking of you.” “I love you.” Whispering as we hug, “This madness needs to stop.”
Second chances were there. Second chances different than yours, but they were there. Second chances. Third chances. Many chances; just ignored. In there lies the pain, the tragedy. An invitation to grab your hand and come aboard….rejected. And so it is with invitations, opportunities, chances, gifts. We can extend them but it is not our place to force their acceptance onto others. Just as we are free to choose when to give, we are also free to choose when to receive.
Free will is a blessing as much as it is a curse. A life lesson you are so young to have to learn. A life lesson you are now so much stronger for having experienced so soon. The “Why’s” and “If only’s” will fade in time as you work through the storm of pain and emotions. In your own time, the clouds will clear; you will see the rainbow, remember the joy, and feel only the love you know as EC; your triplet, your brother, your friend.