I can’t begin to say how many times I’ve dipped my paddle into the waters of pristine lakes or set foot upon mountain trails. The numbers of campfires that have become my private confessionals and stars I’ve counted on cold winter nights are far beyond my mind. Life just takes care of itself without my assistance, and my alone time confirms that.
Any venture into alone time, especially in a wilderness setting, has a way of making us conscious of what’s really important to our existence and happiness. Water, food, and shelter are the basics; then add silence. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clear light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” With these basics covered, then all you’ve got is your time. Yes, that magical stuff that most folks don’t have enough of. Why? A good question, isn’t it?
I suppose it’s mostly about stuff—getting stuff you think you need until you get it and then wonder why you spent so much time getting what you don’t really want or need. It sort of makes you wonder when enough is actually enough, doesn’t it?
Taking care of yourself—in my opinion, at least—is about how you spend your time, not where you spend your money. Some of life’s richest and most meaningful experiences can be found in a simple stroll down a country lane. All you need is a good pair of shoes, and even that’s debatable. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I come to my solitary walk as the homesick go home.” Going home is coming back to yourself, and there’s no better way to do that than spending time alone. Taking care of yourself is taking time for yourself.
In our busy world, our sickness seems to be our unbroken stream of busyness.
With constant activity and opportunities for instant media entertainment, just how often are we truly alone with our deepest thoughts, alone enough to get to know ourselves? Is it any wonder that our social interactions appear stressed or tense? That’s what happens when we become mentally clogged without any release. You must come to grips with yourself before you have any hope of understanding anyone else. Hopefully, this makes sense.
By taking care of yourself, you allow life to flow naturally around you. You don’t have to have everything figured out; in fact, you never will, no matter how many ready-made answers you digest and regurgitate. All anyone requires is time to let everything settle mentally. When the mud settles on its own, the water becomes crystal-clear. You must know yourself to be yourself, and that requires becoming more silent.
As I write to you, the first blush of light has appeared above the ridge over the lake. The early mist is lifting its veil from the meadow. The colors of countless wildflowers are brightening, and birds are singing. The moon, still full, graces the morning sky as the sun begins to show herself. I know not to allow my attention to travel beyond these verdant hills and ridges.
In order to receive the gift, I must first be present.
When you are present, life flows best. It flows like a gentle stream over rocks and sand seeking its way home. Perhaps this is like yourself, seeking that same return to an inner silence. Please take some time for yourself; the world with all its cares and concerns will still be there when you get back, but a different you will be making that return. There’s no need to worry about anything. Life takes care of itself if you take care of yourself.
Reflections from Turtle Lake!