When I move to a new place my first need is to discover the various paths and ways that lead through the mountains and forests. I have been lucky enough to have lived in various countries and various towns and have in the course of my wanderings found deer tracks that led me across the crunchy forest floor, narrow winding paths through low grass, wild boar trails, sandy and rocky coastal paths that swept up and down from cliff tops to waves lapping at my feet. There have been straight cemented roads cut on the side of the mountain and pebbly riverbeds urging me to skip and jump over boulders. Wet sandy beaches that left footprints behind and paths that ended in streams that wound along the countryside. I never tire of finding new paths and treading old ones. Elements of surprise and beauty lie in every corner and the smile that is written across the heart bursts the physical boundaries to spill over.
And every time I follow the same path, not only do I see new things, I also create new memories. Every time I walk, I walk through the veil of time, connecting the past to the present. The deer that sat with her young one at the foot of the hill hidden amongst the tall grass, will she be there today? The snake I saw disappear in the stone wall, will it be lying under the sun today? Memory becomes an old friend, the one you open the door to and welcome in. Memory becomes a living breathing person, with stories to tell. And the more I walk, the more stories I gather. The mushroom gathering place that an old friend showed me, the baby laurel that I was contemplating digging up and planting in my own garden but didn’t, now growing healthy and strong. The place where the wild mauve antirrhinum poked its flowering heads up in spring, now swamped up by tall grass which leaves me searching in vain for the seeds to collect. Every walk becomes a track through time, each one developing, becoming richer than the one before. Each walk carries with it an anticipation, a desire, an openness, a surrendering to whatever might come my way.
In yoga too, there is always the possibility to see new things, even in the postures one knows so well. The intention is always to see the movements as something new, such that one can discover something new. What was yesterday, maybe, has to be, different today. Nothing is static, nothing is stagnant. There is always ebb and flow, we have to float with it. Acceptance. Remembering the past, fondly, or maybe not so fondly. But there is always the prospect of turning new corners, seeing new things, discovering something that I did not see before. There is also always the opportunity to let go of the old stories and make space for new ones. Or maybe, hold on to some of the old ones as well, like one would an old blanket that comforts and warms. Spreading the inner smile that transcends barriers. We go on our paths with wonder in our eyes and gratitude in our hearts. And ready for all stories to happen to us.
Messenger by Mary Oliver My work is loving the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird - equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums. Here the clam deep in the speckled sand. Are my boots old? Is my coat torn? Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect? Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished. The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture. Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here, Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all, over and over, how it is that we live forever.