Very few aspects of my life have remained stable, but hiking is one of the few. The older I grow, the more connected I feel with nature. On my annual birthday hike, I spent the entire four hours without earbuds, without social media, and without ‘notifications’. For the most part, there weren’t that many other hikers on the trail, and there were no noises aside from the tree frogs, flies, and the occasional chipmunk.
When I hike, the world of people disappears entirely, and in fact – when I come across other hikers – I’m almost always shocked out of my quiet world and frightened. Although most people would not describe me as an introvert, I very much am. Don’t get me wrong, admittedly, I love people. I love hearing their stories, listening to their curiosities and the wonderful bonding and connection that happens when walls disappear and true spirits are revealed. Oftentimes that’s not the experienece, but even a good banter & humor, like laughing from the gut, laughter spewing from the nostrils kind of humor takes over and there’s a similar bond through pure comedy and sarcasm. I love that too.
But when the world is quiet, and it’s just me and the trees, and roots jutting up out of the earth, testing my balance – when there are butterflies directing my path and turtles underfoot testing my agility and focus, the world is small and huge all at once. And I am enough. There is no competition. There is no failure. There are no unkind words traversing my mind, telling me I’m not thin enough or smart enough or strong enough. There is only me
And we are enough. We were all created by the Creator himself, and no one here has any ill intent. No one here is dishonest. You get what you see. You see what you get. There are zero expectations, and the only real hope is that I make it back down the mountain before the heel blister becomes unbearable. If my grandmother hiked this same mountain on her 41st birthday, it would’ve looked much the same. There is no technology, no construction, no ‘progress’, no innovations. Nature is simple and, while it also changes, it is strong and tempered and well adjusted to those changes because well…it’s had many rodeos, and ‘knows’ what to expect.
There is something to be said about the first auburn leaves of Fall peeping through in mis-September. That tree doesn’t concern itself with beauty or whether or not I notice such beauty. It’s just doing it’s thing, unaware of the awe it induces in this over-zealous and dramatic nature girl. And that’s true beauty. Truly, something I’m unsure if I will ever know or possess.
In a perfect world, in my heaven on earth, my brain- my thoughts- would stop that endless comparison between ‘me’ and ‘they’ where ‘they’ always win. They are always happier, fitter, thinner, more successful, more loving, smarter, and more together. I’m not sure where that all began, but I can tell you for a fact that those thoughts – or agreements – run deep in me. When I actually get to know people, and they become my friends, I generally see them as even. more beuatiful no matter what, because the more transparent you are, the more you are like nature in my eyes.
So we all need to disconnect from time to time, in whatever form that takes for each of us. We need to go to that place that allows us to simply be – imperfect, flawed, sometimes mindless, other times spuradic and neurotic – but whatever we are, we just are. Because that is where we find God. That is where the newborn version of ourselves meets the older version, and everything in between in inconsequential.
If you are that person who can calm those thoughts and keep them linear and organized, you are a superhero in my eyes. Even though I have meditated daily for at least 2 years, this is not my strong suit. But what quieting the mind does do for me is that it somehow STILL resets my mind and adjusts my mood and attitude, because meditating is much like hiking in the sense that the outside world grows quiet and it’s just me and my thoughts.
So I challenge you to disconnect. Quiet the world. Listen to what’s going on in your own head, with your own thoughts. You’re probably not going to solve the problem of world hunger, and wars, and political unrest, but you will solve the problem of being a scatter brained human struggling with all of the things that are absolutely useless, like competition and comparison. No one else is you. And you are enough. Like the flowers, and trees, and turtles, you are your own special version of creation. Connect with the noise that is you, and connect with the spirit who created you. Perfectly.