Sometimes I need to walk in nature to reconnect with myself and have a conversation that can only be had without daily distractions.
There is often a reason not to go, but these are usually only excuses, and I’m left to wonder why I would resist going. Maybe because being in a relationship with ourselves has become unfamiliar and the “to do” list seems more important than the “to be” list.
But recently I set out to explore a local park.
It took over an hour of walking to reach the creek that was running fast from recent rain. I was alone and the empty space filled my soul. I asked myself, “what is this emptiness that fills me?” It seemed a paradox.
The colours of the forest were muted, but the wet and the warmth of spring brought the first sprinkling of pale yellow wattle and colourful correa blossoms. The green moss on the long fallen logs was vibrant and soft. The stark white of the noisy cockatoo flashed overhead.
The pack felt good on my back and my boots felt familiar. Two walking poles picked out the way. My feet aren’t as sure as they once were. It’s been too long off the track—this track of being with myself.
I carried dry wood and a billy can to boil water for a cup of coffee. I could hear rushing water in the distance and bird songs. The wildlife on my walk were quite shy and I barely caught a glimpse of the bounding kangaroo, but there were no other people and this was what I liked the most.
The sun was still the morning one when I arrived at the creek. It warmed my back and cast a shadow on my page as I sat at the water’s edge. The track continues in the dry season, but on this day it ended in the fast-flowing creek and I was not unhappy to have to stop there.
Sometimes it takes a thing to stop us, to make us slow down, to be here and now.
I took a stick to poke the fire I had set at the side of the creek. I imagined the smoke cleansing me and recalled the Aboriginal. This was peace. This was contentment. This was nothing and it was everything. I thought that this is something I can cultivate and invest in—this being-ness.
The stones around me and next to the creek’s edge were innumerable. Each was a different shape, size, texture and colour. I thought to take one to hold onto my experience. But how could I have chosen one when on this day I fancied this one, and on another day I am drawn to the next? Better I admired them all and not collect one.
It reminded me of how life can be like that. Sometimes we can be distracted by choice rather than appreciating what is at our feet and allowing ourselves to live in possibility.
I made a circle of rocks for my small fire. That satisfied me more than anything I might do during a workday. I sat on the ground. The temperature was mild, there was no breeze and I did not wish one.
There was something inside that called me to jump into the flowing creek. I didn’t, but was happy that the want was in me. I smiled at my primordial nature.
Then there was a breeze and I realised the tips of my hair were wet with sweat on the back of my neck. I used my body and it was glad of it, and I was grateful for it.
When was the last time I had noticed such a small thing? What are you noticing now?
What do I want? And why do I keep asking this question?
Could I be happier than in this very moment? Could you?
My fire turned to coals and the last of the coffee was in my cup. I packed my things and slept a short while on the ground, on the earth, by the water and the embers—just for a while and just for my soul.
Author: Suzanne Gatz
Image: Lacey Raper/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron