It’s no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.
~ Saint Francis of Assisi
Walking, in particular drifting, or strolling, is already — with the speed of culture of our time — a kind of resistance… A very immediate method for unfolding stories.
~ Francis Alys
I usually save my Walktober post for the round-up, but I want to do it early this year. I walk pretty much every day so I’m sure I’ll find something to share with you when it’s time for the round-up post. Before I get to my walk, a quick update about Walktober: I am extending the date to October 24th so if you haven’t had a chance to get your walk in yet, this will give you a little extra time.
I had all sorts of thoughts and possibilities and plans for a walk this year. Then it occurred to me that even though I could go elsewhere for a walk, this would be a good year to stay close to home and walk around the property here on the Wabi-Sabi Ranch. I don’t always appreciate the fact that I live in what is essentially my own private park. We have different landscapes to explore, from meadows, to woods, to marsh that leads to water. There is a tidal pond, a cemetery, a creek that has grown wider in the seven years we’ve lived here. We have a large herd of deer, a bazillion rabbits, red foxes, raccoons, snakes, opossums, lizards, birds, turtles, otters, muskrats, and many more other-than-humans sharing the land with us. There are birds who winter here, including a large number of birds of prey (who take care of some of the bazillion rabbits), and birds who summer here, and birds who stop by on their way Elsewhere in the spring and fall.
At the beginning of Bhagavad Gita class this past Tuesday evening, the teacher talked about a conversation she’d had recently with Dr. Theo Wildcroft, a yoga teacher and a scholar who studies what she has termed “post-lineage yoga.” (I won’t go into her studies. You can visit her website, if interested.) Dr. Theo has a wonderful way of relating post-lineage yoga groups with nature, comparing them to rhizomes or networks of mycelium. My favorite, though, is her comparison of groups that work together as murmurations or flocks of geese. Karin, my yoga teacher, shared with us a beautiful song that Dr. Theo had shared with her. I’m going to share it with you. I hope you have a few minutes to listen: Labouring and Resting by Pippa Murphy. It’s beautiful, this resting and laboring (or labouring) that geese do, stepping back to rest, stepping forward to allow someone else to rest.
I bring this up, and share the song with you, because it’s been a hard week. Oh, nothing major happened in my personal life (we’ll leave aside the politics of what’s happening in the country and in the world). We are about seven months into the pandemic and I have been feeling so tired, so frustrated, so angry, so sad, so filled with grief over it all and by all I mean not only the pandemic but where we are in terms of society/culture and climate change, of what we’re doing to ourselves and to the earth. It was difficult to find the center of joy, the steady spark or flame, that burns within the center of our being.
After listening to the song at the beginning of Gita class, we took turns talking about our flocks and who they are. At the time, I was feeling and diving into loneliness, and my answer was weak and more than a little whiny. It’s becoming clear to me that it is likely we will not make the trip to Ohio to visit with our children and grandchildren. No final decisions have been made yet, but November will not be a good time to make that kind of trip for all sorts of reasons. Colder weather, being shut up inside, rising numbers in terms of infections, and the advice of the infectious disease experts make it pretty clear that the risks in November are greater than the risks were in summer when we were able to be outside for most of the day and open the windows to the fresh air. We would do better to wait until spring. Spring, it seems to me right now, is a very long way off.
So, what I’m trying to get at is that I felt, briefly, flockless. I am here in the Middle of Nowhere, learning to be alone again as M goes off to work for at least part of the day. I’ve kept busy since our return from our summer hiatus in Ohio. When I finally stopped all the busy-ness, there was an upwelling of sadness, grief, and loneliness that many are feeling, have been feeling throughout the course of the pandemic.
The morning after class, still feeling lonely and flockless, I did my morning practice, watching the sky lighten as the sunlight peered over the treeline and the fog gathered and danced over the surface of the pond, twisting and turning like ghosts trapped and unable to leave the space over the water. Light hit the top of the trees, pointing out the slowly changing colors of the foliage. Then it streamed across the lawn, shimmering and sparkling on the dew that had collected on blades of grass overnight. The herd of deer came by for breakfast, the little ones chasing each other as they do every morning. Crows cawed. A male cardinal, brilliant in sunlight and red feathers, perched on the sumac, picking at the berries. Lloyd’s rooster crowed, the sound carrying from about a quarter of a mile up the road. The air was still and chill, smelling of autumn with those hints of decay, earthiness, and a little sourness that comes with colder weather, less daylight, and decomposing leaves, grasses, and other plants.
I finished my practice and as I sipped on a freshly steeped cup of tea, I opened my email and began to look at all the Walktober posts that are coming in. As I walked along with you, I began to feel less lonely, less flockless. And it was in feeling that connection that I realized how many flocks I am a part of: family, friends, people who joined our little non-profit to clean up the area, fellow bloggers, the yoga cohort/class, Izzy and Bella (the cats), my connection to nature and the other beings who live here with us, and (last but most important) M, my husband and life partner.
I’m going to leave you with something I read in Joanna Macy’s book, World As Lover, World As Self: Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal:
When humans investigate and see through their layers of anthropocentric self-cherishing, a most profound change in consciousness begins to take place. Alienation subsides. The human is no longer an outsider apart. Your humanness is then recognized as being merely the most recent stage of your existence; as you stop identifying exclusively with this chapter, you start to get in touch with yourself as vertebrate, as mammal, as species only recently emerged from the rainforest. As the fog of amnesia dispenses, there is a transformation in your relationship to other species and in your commitment to them … The thousands of years of imagined separation are over and we can begin to recall our true nature; that is, the change is a spiritual one — thinking like a mountain, sometimes referred to as deep ecology. As your memory improves … there is an identification with all life …. Remember our childhood as rocks, as lava? Rocks contain the potentiality to weave themselves into such stuff as this. We are the rocks dancing.
~ John Seed, founder of the Rainforest Information Centre in Australia
Thank you so much for visiting with me today and for allowing me to be a part of your flock, even briefly. It’s been raining for most of the day with the temperature dropping as a cold front comes through. I don’t think there will be much to see at sunset other than clouds and rain, but if you’re game, I’ll meet you at the Point to see what we can see. Sunset is scheduled for 6:23 PM. It will be wet and chilly so some layers, a raincoat, and boots or umbrella are probably a good idea.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind. And if you’re in the U.S. and you haven’t done so already, please VOTE. Thank you.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1.576) Rainy days that call for writing, drawing, and reading. 1,577) Rainy days that encourage you to relax, rest, recharge. 1,578) Rainy day comfort foods. 1,579) Snuggling. 1,580) Flocks. All of them.
Walktober reminder with update: The dates are October 3-24 (I’m giving you an extra week). Take a walk (run, ride, whatever) and post about it sometime during those dates. I will gather it all together and do the round-up post sometime after that (I’m looking at October 26th as a possible date — it depends on whether or not anyone needs more time). The official post is HERE. Leave your link or pingback there. If you should mistakenly leave it elsewhere on my blog, no worries. I can usually find it. However, it does make it easier for me if the links are all in one place. Thank you!