I feel conflicted: powerless to change the trajectory of the immediate future; impassioned to work to improve the near future and secure the more distant one; and aware that all of these concerns are pretty inconsequential within the vastness of the universe.
I know so much of these feelings are “in my head” and the only remedy I know is to get out. Literally, get out of the house and BE in some more than human-made space. I’m so fortunate to live where I do where contemplative green spaces abound. So as a morning, pre-online, rejuvenating tonic, with minimal effort I head out to take some in. In no time I’m on the Greenway path, bordered by hundreds of tress, adjacent an ancient waterway. My breathing adjusts to the rhythm of my stride in the crisp air. My unsettled mind settles inward.
A couple of errant scraps of litter end up in my hands. I encounter a tall robust woman with a small dog who I’ve seen before, both on the greenway and in the neighborhood where I worked all summer. I recall overhearing her speaking another language—Russian or Polish? She asks. We exchange names and smiles, a few words, then part. An older gent approaches and carrying a handful of discarded plastic bags. I smile and say we’re on the same mission. He chuckles, thanks me, then graciously offers to take my small debris collection off my hands. I cross paths with a few other early sojourners and we nod in silent appreciation of the glorious dawn.
Almost unconsciously I wander through freshly cut tall weeds, well off the path, down toward the river‘s edge. Within seconds a mesh sand bag caught ten feet high in a tree branch by the floodwaters last spring, catches my eye. I assess if it’s accessible, but within a few slippery steep steps can sense the foliage-covered land drops downward so quickly, even if there is solid land, I won’t be able to reach it. But then underfoot I see some broken limbs. I find the right one and with just a couple well-placed pokes the bag drops and I’m able to lift it into my grasp. I toss the stick and just then, through the small clearing in the trees along the bank, a majestic great blue heron glides slowly past following the river only a few feet above the water. I shake my head and smile.
A few minutes’ stroll and I’m on the low water bridge. I cross, climb down the bank, and crouch on a dry rock just above river level. I’m gazing at the immense beauty of the fog lifting off the water as rays from a star 93 million miles away heat up the air and encourage it to rise. I watch my own breath as the water ripples softly. My body and being warmed by the scene and yet another synchronistic heron encounter. The tips of green foliage gently wave. Suddenly I’m filled with a sense the only thing to do is to sincerely use my energy toward what feels right in each moment, because we’re never really in control beyond that. The earth will survive, life will go on, and we’re all both utterly insignificant and immeasurably integral to it all.