I’m a bit ashamed to admit that when I have free time at the end of the day, I’m starting to lean too heavily to indoor routines like checking e-mail, checking phone messages, Solitaire and the like. Surface things that pass the time, but don’t help me feel embraced by Time. So after teaching all day yesterday, I had the good sense to start walking toward the Oklahoma hills surrounding the Quartz Mountain Conference Center. Started on a sidewalk path that turned into a dirt path in the woods, that petered out into trudging through grasses that turned into hidden streams of water beneath the grass. I started bushwalking toward higher ground and came to the rock-formations that dotted the hilly landscape and began climbing up, mindful of spiny cactus wedged between rocks. Balancing and walking and sometimes leaping from rock to rock, I gradually gained elevation and got the reward of a view back to the Conference Center. Lovely.
But now it was turning toward dusk and I had the challenge of descending with no path in site. I could have backtracked down through the watery grasses, but instead, decided to take my chances navigating down through the rocks that lay ahead, with no guarantee whatsoever that they wouldn’t finally lead me to a cliff’s edge and no way to complete the descent. But down I went in good faith and one cactus sting and the sense of adventure that I’ve loved my whole life, but has started to erode with the safety and predictability of traveling from one Starbucks to the next, the bike paths with GPS on my phone, the self-enclosed hall of mirrors of Facebook, e-mail and the like. Here I was back again in the unknown, blissfully ignorant of poisonous plants or snakes or scorpions or mountain lions and the like, but happy to be jumping from rock to rock as a 67-year old grandpa. Great exercise, by the way, using the whole body, plus activating the slumbering intuitive inner GPS, plus the different textures of spongy grass, moss-covered rocks, sharp cacti, gnarly trees.
Miraculously, I found my way to the road before it got dark and felt a spring in my step different from the post-email-check feeling. The dinner tasted a bit more delicious, the company I kept a bit more interesting, the world a bit more interesting. And I believe I slept better as well. Tomorrow, I’ll be most of the day in the windowless carpeted room evoking the wild through music, song and dance, but at the end of the day, I believe I’ll take another walk.
PS I have some nice photos to add to the above, but Verizon has blocked my i-Phone for reasons unknown and I can't upload the photos. Aargh!!!! Hopefully soon.