Our propensity for pleasure, peace, and comfort is always a recipe for division and limitation.
The familiar route entices an active mind. As the body hums along the mind darts between thoughts and emotions; sometimes settling on one in particular for a prolonged period. As a runner, my focus is sometimes on distance or duration, and others on what (life) may come after the run. Where the mind goes, the body follows. The familiar route is my invitation to motion. What I can plan is enough for me to begin. But what I can plan is often too small for life to happen. Onward.
With a single stroke, we are freed from bondage… when you see the truth, in a single moment you are freed of all bondage. Fully alert, seeing through, you become free — at one stroke.
The new route. The trail that goes slightly right instead of the obvious straight, is an offering of opportunity. This day I went right. A few meters of running ahead and I came to a “Jungle Temple.” A place with a stream of trickling water, a small bench for contemplation, and dozens of rock towers erected by visitors over time. Beside the bench lay a small book to leave a note and mark your presence at the temple. In this moment I was nothing more than a human being taking a moment of time to just be. No thoughts of running, fitness, athleticism, energy, image, outcome, etc. entered my mind. The shade of the jungle and the coolness of morning caused my eyes to relax. Soon I was running again. My pace was effortless. My arms were light. Light arms allow relaxed shoulders. A relaxed upper body welcomesa rhythmic, metronomic stride. Continuing on this trail I crossed over and up to a familiar path through the jungle. It was here, climbing up onto the ridge that the intense smells of life swarmed in. The dark, thickly vegetated path causes the senses to become more alert. Eyes scan the ground for a preferred path, while ears tune in and then out the various sounds. Running in the jungle is not a gift of pleasure. Sweat pours profusely. My body feels heavy from the humidity. Dirt and sand sift through the mesh of my shoes, while bugs and tree pollen cling to my damp skin. Yet, in this moment of movement my awareness is not on discomfort. I’m an animal traveling a well-worn path through the jungle. My destination is forgotten, yet my location is confirmed by the sound of the ocean fluttering in from my left, signifying my travel up the coast. A few minutes later, descending down towards the water, I notice another trail. This one looks to lead back south, but on the bluffs above the ocean. So I take it. A few hundred feet of elevation gain later and I enter into a prayer ground. Flags and ribbons surround a small temple. To my right I am gifted with a beautiful view up and down the coast. 100 meters south a large Black Hawk is perched. I connect with these raptors having watched an Osprey carry a large fish lengthwise in his talons just the other day.
… my mind is clear. Today I moved from my heart. I’ve wrestled the desire for the familiar away from the mind and opened it to experience.
A few moments later I am again on my way. One new trail opened the door to many others. I headed south, then back north, then east. Twisting and turning following the flow of a path traveled by thousands of other humans before me, and thousands more to follow. My effort oscillates; legs and lungs propel me skyward for a time, and gravity sends me back to the valley below. In this moment with my chest lifted, shoulders pulled back, and core tightened, a sense of satisfaction overcame me. I am a traveler. Today I lived far more than I could plan. Life’s deviations have enriched my days in boundless ways.
Too often in life I’ve wanted it to follow me. Expecting the wave to crest at exactly the preferred moment. Such is not reality. I had to learn to follow life for the shades to be fully drawn open. Experience is not a day on a calendar. It is not a destination. Experience is what happens when we find ourselves in the right place, at the right time, in the right state of consciousness. What happens next is up to life. Embrace it.
It’s easy to become hard. It’s hard to break a pattern. Modern man is in need of more heart/love and less head/analysis. Our story ceases to evolve if our paths never diverge. Recognizing the opportunity of a fork in the road, a new trail, and having the mental free space to take it, may be what is needed to ignite your life with aliveness!