Embrace the quiet

If I am given the option, I choose in most situations to be alone. I am not a loner despite what others think. It’s just that I don’t require the presence of others to be happy.

Too many people, too much noise especially from people who talk and say nothing. These are the people who talk because they find their happiness on that side of the world. Unfortunately I and others like me are outnumbered and as such we are the ones who are looked down upon. We are often questioned “Why don’t you like people?” There are an assortment of other questions and with my response I do not mean to be mean or nasty when I say, “I don’t like most other people.” I certainly do not require the presence of for my happiness.

I like the peace and solitude in which I find quiet.

John Burroughs the naturalist who never really reached the acclaim of other outdoor philosophers such as Thoreau, Muir and Emerson was heard to say, “Communing with God is communing with our own hearts, our own best selves, not with something foreign and accidental. Saints and devotees have gone into the wilderness to find God; of course they took God with them, and the silence and detachments enabled them to hear the still, small voice of their own souls, as one hears the ticking of his own watch in the stillness of the night.” Those who struggle to find the beauty in silence are condemned to hear the utterances of their own voices and have only that noise as companionship.

life guard house panorama B & W

As I took the time to saunter along the beach, crowded with others but alone with the thoughts in my head, I was reminded of the contentment which I achieve when I saunter alone. I enjoy just taking in the scenery and wish to share it with others and am dumbfounded by those who look at the scene in which I find awe and simply state, “That’s nice.” Those are not the individuals with whom I wish to spend my alone time.

When I saunter, I prefer to do it by foot. Either walking or on one of my daily runs will do. When I run, especially on the weekends, I prefer to do it at a time where I can reach certain locations at just the right time. The “right time” is the time I can be on a certain bridge or along the river front to be able to stop and take in the sunrise or to simply stop and take in the beauty which is often missed by others.

I need to saunter more often and embrace the quiet.

Namaste

 

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It is gratitude I feel…

With palms together,

I wish you all a Good Evening.

My daughter and her fiance left with their son, my first grandson, Chase. These visits, as all visits are such that I contemplate all that I have and all that I am. I saw a saying, I am unsure of the author which says, “I exist as I am. That is enough.”

I retired outside knowing the next five days will be spent, almost in their entirety in a windowless office. The cicadas are singing their mating song; the pitch waxing and waning. The song of the cicadas hits a crescendo before another group of cicadas, far off to my left picks up the song and proceeds to carry the tune. I sit with my head tilted back and a flock of birds, their species unknown to me dart from tree to tree; their shape silhouetted against the fading light of dusk.

I began thinking of Thoreau as I am accompanied outside by his journal. A passage grips me and in a writing style known well to those who have read his words, identifies what I am feeling and expertly places those thoughts and feelings on paper. Thoreau, in a journal entry dated November 17, 1855, accurately sums up my feelings toward my family and my life.

“It is interesting to me to talk with Rice, he lives so thoroughly and satisfactorily to himself. He has learned the rare art of living, the very elements of which most professors do not know. His life has not been a failure but a success. Comparatively speaking, his life is a success; not such a failure as most men’s. He gets more out of any enterprise than his neighbors, for he helps himself more and hires less.Whatever pleasure there is in it he enjoys. By good sense and calculation, he has become rich and has invested his property well, yet practices a fair and neat economy, dwells not in untidy luxury. It costs him less to live, and he gets more out of life than others. To get his living, or keep it, is not a hasty or disagreeable toil. He works slowly but surely, enjoying the sweet of it. And thus his life is a long sport and he knows not what hard times are.”

As in past writing, Henry does a most excellent job of summing up my thoughts. Perhaps it is the life which I have chosen which, consistent with Henry has already done an adequate job of summing up my thoughts.

Namaste

The gratitude walk

As I get older I have more appreciation for life, my life, for how I spend my time. I realize that while it’s important to make money, it’s not important to waste money, to spend money foolishly.

Several weeks ago I purchased a GoPro camera. I thought about this purchase for several months thinking, “I’ll never use it the way I’ve seen others use it.” I decided it was important or maybe this was just a way to justify such a purchase but I felt it was important to document the activities that I love to enjoy. If others feel the same happiness as I and it prompts others to get outside and have fun, well that’s just a bonus.

Lately I’ve been busy at my office. Busy is good, being overly busy is not, at least not for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my work. This is a blessing for which I am grateful. The only time I don’t enjoy my work is when I neglect the balance in my life. When emotions are out of balance I find myself tired, easily angered and with a low tolerance for frustration. I no longer want it to get to this point. I have experienced panic attacks in the past and know this is a place in my life which I have no interest in returning.

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Solitude, the solitude found in nature is important to me and at the foundation of my happiness. On my way to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend, I decided to stop at Devil’s Hole State Park. I didn’t have the necessary time to enjoy the walk down into the gorge so I enjoyed a hike along the upper level path. The solitude of the visit recharging my internal batteries as I craned my neck to hear the water rushing through the lower rapids hundreds of feet below. So close but yet so far. I stopped several times and thought about the time spent with family on Thanksgiving. There are many things for which I am grateful. They are too numerous for me to mention. I am reminded of them daily when I write in my journal and I step into the wilderness.

I hope you enjoy the video of this hike and it inspires you to get outdoors and enjoy life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEx24x-_vp0

Namaste

A Sunday hike

I have not written, other than in my journal in some time. There are small pangs of guilt when I do not write as I think, “Will readers of my blog be upset?” I try not to focus on these thoughts and write when the mood strikes me. I am much more interested in writing something which appeals to the senses instead of filling white space on a page.

 
I woke Sunday and smiled as the forecast for the day promised sun throughout. Anyone who lives in the Northeast understands the importance of seeing the sun. At least for me, the sun, or more importantly seeing the brilliant rays of the sun is integral to my mood. While sunlight increases our body’s ability to make Vitamin D, it is also important to ease the bouts of sadness and depression which can also accompany this time of year.
 
Our economy continues to struggle. Daylight is scarce as sunset is at 4:45 PM. I drive to my office in the dark and return home in the dark. My thoughts went in the direction of running trails at a local park but this desire rapidly waned as I thought about going for a hike with my son. I went to his room and he smiled as he agreed to rise and walk with me. 
 
Both of us are Introverts. Anyone riding in a car with us or spending much time with us might wonder about the quality of our relationship. We spend little time speaking to each other but at the same time understand completely our feelings for each other. To understand this, one must be an Introvert. We do not require any special circumstances to fill the silent void which sits comfortably between us. My son updated me on his progress at college. As he did so i smiled inside listening to his desire to follow through with his goals; the happiness in his voice testament to his internal happiness.
 
We arrived at our destination. I donned a small pack carrying my journal and a fountain pen and a bottle of water. I attached my GoPro camera to a pole and off we went. The conversation on our walk was limited as it was on our drive to the trailhead. We both understand and agree we are acceptant of this quiet. It is the solitude for which I look forward to experiencing and I believe this is true for Stephen. We did not discuss this as there was no need to do so; our silence filled with understanding of each other as well as our need for solitude.
 
Thoreau said, “An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” These words spoken by Thoreau when he wrote his journal are words which resonate with me. I rise at 4:30 AM most days of the week, don my running clothing and step out the door to begin my day. Questions from those around me pummel me at various times throughout the day. Previously I would become angry with these questions, dismissing them as “stupid” and “ridiculous”. As I grow older I have come to accept the differing opinions of others even when they seem to me to be far fetched. It is questions such as “Isn’t it cold outside?” Of course it is, it’s the middle of winter. “Why do you get up so early in the morning?” This is the time of day as Thoreau has mentioned earlier which sets the tone for my day. It helps me maintain a healthy balance when navigating through the chaos which others seem to thrive upon. This pace, the one apparently so loved by others is not loved by me. I will not say it is “hated” but that term remains in my head.
 
We drove home, again in almost complete silence. The trees passing by in a blur. A smile on my face indicating the happiness which has been gained; a happiness which will accompany me throughout the day and into the night.
 
Find those things, those activities which bring you happiness. Resist the urge to jump into the stream of life and travel along with all of the other souls on a path which causes more stress and ill-health, a path which brings unhappiness to most of us. Once you have identified those activities, do them. Do them as frequently as possible. make a change in your life that is based on happiness and enjoying your life. 
 
Happiness comes from within. It does not come from material possessions or things. Identify the people and the activities which bring this happiness to you. Cherish it and do not allow its importance to be tarnished by those around you. Assess the gifts in your life; your family, your children, your health, your happiness. Do not give these gifts, this happiness away to those who do not understand it. Cherish it. Smile. Take care of yourself and the rest will follow.
 
Namaste
 

Walking and Thinking

Walking and Thinking

Early afternoon and the blue sky, covered now and then with pillow like clouds being pushed by a breeze which reminded us that winter was recently left behind. As I walked the stone road along the edge of the lake with my dog, the temperatures in the high thirties with a windchill pushing it down into the low thirties causes me to grit my teeth and be thankful I carried gloves with me.

I walked the stone road until I reached the bend in the lake. I sat on the edge of a smooth granite slab, my legs dangling over the edge, feet almost touching the water. Jack, my dog walked to the edge and sat beside me. The slab warmed by the sun. I watched as fish rose from time to time and the breeze blowing gently across the water’s surface causing small ripples.

This time of year, on this side of the lake few others venture allowing me the solitude which I sought. I became restless after a few minutes, thoughts racing around in my head. I unzipped my backpack and retrieved my journal and fountain pen. I began to write about the activities of the week which had just ended. The double bombing Monday morning at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the explosion at the factory outside Waco, Texas and the activities on Friday which saw one of the alleged bombers killed and the other taken into custody.

As a social worker and also as one who cherishes his sanity and the solitude which he creates around him; I found myself not paying much attention directly to those actions, but they remained in my thoughts. Why would someone do such a thing? This is a particular thought which I allow to come and go, never allowing it to spend much time in the forefront of my thoughts because I know anxiety and poor sleep will not be far behind.

It is times such as these that I turn to my long deceased friends Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, John Borroughs and Ralph Waldo Emerson to help me make sense of such things. They are of little direct help other than to remind me that there are some things in life for which logical sense will never be made. Instead I turn my tangled web of thoughts to those things which I can understand; nature. The solitude and solace provided by nature begins the process of untangling those thoughts. Here things are much simpler, as they should be. Henry thought a walk spoiled when he couldn’t out-pace the town and its news and when his mid was not successful shedding that news and those thoughts.

I began to think of my walk as spoiled so I retreat further into the solace and solitude brought to me by my walk in nature. I focused my breath and with shaky hand wrote and wrote; thoughts streaming forth as if from a faucet left on. Here amidst the pine trees and the rippling water I can breathe again. My breath comes easier, more rhythmic. Here my tangle of thoughts continues to unwind.

After a short time my thinking becomes increasingly clear. I can hear the chirping of nearby birds and the ripple of the water as the breeze, now more noticeable continues to disturb the once placid surface of the pond.

The walk has done its job. My thoughts, slowed to a snail’s pace are now clear. I acknowledge there is no sense to be made of this past weeks events and it is better to leave them where they began. I cap my fountain pen, close my journal and cinch the cord tight around the smooth leather binding. I sit for a few more minutes and decide it is time to go. Jack and I make the return walk to our car; my heart and head lighter from this walk.

It is humbling to know these thoughts will return again. It is comforting to know I have the woods in which to walk to help make sense of what I can to lighten my load.

Namaste

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Sauntering in the Woods

I love to get out in the woods with nothing but my running shoes, a bottle of water and a camera with a fresh memory card. I love the freedom from running on the roads that trail running offers. The freedom to stop and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the beautiful outdoors.

We don’t have too many trails here in Niagara County, none anyway that don’t require a 2-3 hour drive, but the trails at Bond’s Lake are some that I enjoy. Here’s a couple of shots from a recent trail run there. No snow but the temperature was in the single digits.

Enjoy!

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