Over the past while I have been feeling a bit down. My life is on a cusp of change, but I am spinning my wheels. Do you know what I mean? Have you felt like that?
Old patterns are relentless, but new vistas are enticing me with beautiful and powerful images. The stress of living in a redundant mental space is wearing on me. I want to move forward, but I am caught by habit.
What to do? Well, whenever I am confronted with stasis — when I feel stuck in a lifeless rut — I return to the basics. And what can be more basic than nature? Nature has balance and it moves gracefully with change. Nature can stimulate us likewise, to regain our balance, and to accept change in stride as we move through life.
And so we went on a camping trip.
Wells Gray Provincial Park
For four glorious days nothing existed but the eternal NOW. The old patterns were on hold.
We would sit and relax by the powerful Clearwater River, entranced by its magic, or we would hike up into the forest. No mixed messages, no ambiguity, nothing nebulous — just clear choices with good results. Well, there are mosquitoes and bears, natural dangers and other possible disasters, but we accept that risk and take action accordingly.
We have been in the wilderness quite a bit. We’ve hiked in alpine meadows rated prime Grizzly territory, and canoe-trip’d in remote areas. We have learned to the accept risk to gain the rewards. We know how to behave if we encounter a bear when hiking, or dangerous water in the canoe. That knowledge frees us to explore and to enjoy ourselves.
That is perhaps one of nature’s best lessons: life is risky but worth it! When we choose to really live, we risk losing it all, but that is the only way we can experience a full life. Shrinking from risk is no life at all.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
… Anais Nin
This was just a fairly civilized camping trip; not a dig-your-own-latrine-in-the-bush type camping trip. We tented in Falls Creek Campground, complete with fire pit, outhouses, and camp fees. Nature knows nothing of the amenities of the campground, though. The area is wild and beautiful. Venture a bit from camp onto the forest trails and routes, and you are in another world, light-years away from old patterns.
We know this area well. We have been coming to this part of the world for decades, and it holds precious memories for us. Some view points have become obstructed by the growth of the trees and new ones have presented themselves. A fresh bear’s den that we discovered 25 years ago is now collapsed into the lush undergrowth; no longer as mysterious and intimidating as it was. The land has shifted and the dead-fall that formed the framework of the den has decayed. The bears have abandoned it as a viable hibernation abode.
Well it wasn’t a lucky home for the first bear that hibernated there. Winter buried the den in ten feet of snow, but hungry wolves sniffed him out, dug him out, and ate him. Nature can be ruthless depending on your situation.
Perhaps that is another important lesson that nature teaches us: stuff happens regardless of our expectations and desires. We are not the center of the universe. There are no universal imperatives at work to ensure our happiness and security. It is entirely up to us. Live fully, and live NOW. This present moment is the only moment that is real. It is the only moment we are offered… ever!
“Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing. Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness, and knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
… Kahlil Gibran
Nature Never Fails
So there I am standing on trembling ground in front of Bailey’s Chute, an awesome piece of powerful water on the Clearwater River, and I am thinking of my life. What should I do? How will I proceed from here? And the river provides the answer: do what is in your nature and move around, through, or over, any obstacle in your path.
A powerful river is on an eternal course. Its nature is to move relentlessly forward. And the lesson from nature is to do similar. Wild rivers are a good analogy for dealing with challenging times. The soft and malleable qualities of water can overcome the hardest of obstacles. If we are listening then, nature is telling us that the softest aspect of our nature is our greatest strength. When we apply our sensitive natures over time, we will move around, through, or over, our challenges — just like a powerful river.
“The softest thing in the world can override the hardest. Such a thing seems to issue forth from nowhere, yet it penetrates everywhere. It does not contend but it surely wins.”
… Lao Tse
As I think back on those few beautiful days in nature, I am reminded of the following lessons:
- Be in the NOW, always
- Be aware of yourself and your circumstances
- Simplify your life each and every day
- Be willing to accept risks that you understand
- Life is change–go with it
- Take action that is consistent with your nature
- Be persistent, keep moving forward, and you will reach the ocean of your dreams
Perhaps they can serve you also. To reinforce them, I encourage you to take your own trip into whatever nature is around you. Nature will never let you down. Whatever it is you wish to know, nature will have the answer.
Over to you now!