Some of you may be familiar with my “walking” habit which often takes me into the local parkway and the various bridges, valleys and rivers. There is a kidney-shaped lagoon that I often walk by as part of my “figure eight” circuit – the inside track of the “kidney” forms part of the circuit. I have often looked to the forest on the other side of the lagoon and wondered about the view from that side of the water. My penchant for stability and ‘staying within my comfort zone’ of exploration had so far kept me away from the other side. But that changed in an unexpected way this week. I stepped onto the slippery slope of uncertainty…
The rest of this “essay” is an extract from my “walking journal”. It speaks to my perspective on stability and uncertainty, and the balance that we try so hard to create between them. But the balance does not remain for long. And we ourselves often proceed to subconsciously or overtly upset that very same balance in order to follow an unseen call of self-exploration. Read on.
The other side of the lagoon called to me today – even though I did not know of that when I pulled in and parked in the Lewis road riding area – I was going to walk my walked-before hill that ran along the west branch of the rocky river – and yet I found myself veering off to the right along the riding paddock along the tree line – and the adventure that was to unfold was remarkable as much as it was subtle in the making –
A walk along the trail high that found me at the edge of the lagoon a few hundred feet below – some portions of the small trail ran close enough to the edge to make your heart race a beat or two faster as the drop was almost vertical to the floor of the valley – and I walked on to the turnaround where the majestic tree stood backlit against the rising sun –
Somehow I could not shake the fact that I had discovered the other side of my frequently walked lagoon and yet I was so far away from her shore which lay at the bottom of the hill – maybe another day I will uncover the path down to it, I reasoned with myself. Stability.
And as I walked back on my return journey, I glanced down and saw a clearing – a plateau about halfway down the sweeping cliff – inviting me, tempting me to descend so that I could get some closer photos of the lagoon quickly turning bluer as the sun rose higher in the sky. Uncertainty.
Maybe, if I can make it down halfway, that will be a start for the next time when I can go all the way to the floor – I rationalized to myself. I chose a “path” where if I started sliding on my descent I would be able to grab on to some young tree trunks or at least some exposed tree roots…
Off the trail and onto the hill I stepped. Into uncertainty. The floor of the steep hill floor was soft yet firm enough – the consistency of a mixture of mulch and the underlying shale on which the trees seemed to flourish – and so, sideways I descended – like a goat finding his way, right shoulder towards the decline with my right foot perpendicular to the slope, leading the dance down the mountain…
Of course, once I got halfway down and caught my breath. I admired the bluer blue of the water below. Sure enough, there was another path revealed to me. It was clear that I could reach the base of the hill and the shore of the lagoon. Maybe next week, I thought. But I recalled that the forecast was for the weather to turn rainy and cold from here on out – this was probably going to be the last dry and warm day of the season and the hill would probably become unnavigable once the weather turned…
So, down I went towards the lagoon’s shore, discovering trees full of tiny redwings and burrows in the soft mulch – probably the practice grounds of the many baby chipmunks that scurried across the hillside… and as if in welcome, a few acorns fell from trees into the clear lagoon water, sounding like thunder laps as they struck the surface…
And the very geese that would scamper at my sight when they would see me walking the other shore were now swimming towards me… one of them swam by me as if I didn’t exist – and the other pair put up quite a show as they bathed and preened on a fallen log eight in front of me. I guess that they felt no threat from me or were shocked to see any human on this side of the lagoon – so, they simply ignored me 🙂
The ascent up the hill faced me now – I had figured on my way down that the ascent would be easier than the descent – but I was wrong. I had to get on my hands to grab the ground a few times to navigate up the steep, soft incline. Often, what I thought to be tree roots that I could grab for support turned out to be chewed up, hollowed out branches. More uncertainty. So, I decided to take a circular route up the hill instead of a straight-on ascent. An attempt at stability. This strategy worked well as I huffed and puffed my way up the second half… I guess I’m not in as good of shape as I think I am!
So, that’s my story of the other side of the lagoon on a beautiful autumn day where Mother Nature blessed me abundantly for letting go of my preconceived notion of what constitutes a ‘walking path’ and stability. I learnt that a little bit of faith in oneself backed by past experience and learned intuition can mitigate the risk and fear that one feels when stepping into the unexplored regions of uncertain yet familiar terrain.
The rewards for doing so are tough to describe in words – for how does one describe the sight of a backlit tree in all her glory and the multifarious views of leaves changing color and letting go when their work is deemed complete… they spend an apparent lifetime on the branches in stability, yet they are happy to let go as they are set free in their yielding to uncertainty.
What is your current (spiritual) story about uncertainty and stability? Is it an even balance? What gives you stability? What invites you to step into uncertainty? I invite you to share with us, Sunday October 9th 2016 in our weekly #SpiritChat conversation on twitter.
Namaste – from the other side of the lagoon,
P.S. Enjoyed this essay? Leave me a comment if you would like to see more of these… Thank you for reading!
Trail’s End – Backlit Tree
The Hill Invites me to the Lagoon Floor