I go for a walk at 8:30 in the morning, which means the sun already scalds my bare arms. I choose the path around our neighborhood playground, about half of which is shaded by trees, just to escape into some shade. I’ve left my iPod and earbuds at home, which means I am left with nothing to listen to but the world.
I hear birdsong and bulldozer, wind-whisper and motorcycle motor.
I walk in and out of shadows, weaving between light and dark, between my silent thoughts and the presence of the earth around me.
I force myself to be aware, awake. There is a tree whose name I do not know whose lower branches seem to grow downward, pointing at 45 degree angles toward the grass. The undermost branches are bare, even as the branches above are heavy, bursting with leaves. Yet these close to me are naked. Empty. I am drawn to them, to their simplicity, to their failure, even.
I keep looking up as I walk. There is a handful of glittering cloudy spider webs suspended between branches of one tree. In another, the waving leaves make a kaleidoscope of green and white spinning and spinning above my head. There is some kind of evergreen that only carries pine leaves on one side of its body; the other side stands silent and stripped of life.
My feet follow the circle over and over again, birds and squirrels skittering across the black path in front of me. I think I might like to grab a leaf from the kaleidoscope tree to keep with me, but I don’t want to break one away. It feels like I might be hurting the tree, cutting off a vein of that branching flow of life.
It feels good to be moving within the world. I think of my life and realize that I am searching for this, for this ability to remember that I, too, am created and creator, that my existence is more than duty and clamor. I am searching for the deepest peace, for the grace of solitude, for a connection to meaning, for contentment, all of which weave like vines throughout the body of the world, of whom I am a part. As it grows and thrives, so do I. As it falters and fails, so do I. Maybe I don’t move within the world; maybe I move with it.
I emerge from the shadows and walk into the light, wondering if I look any different here.
** Image from Wikimedia Commons