Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

I walked more than 480 miles in 2013. Many of those miles were logged on mountains that were already familiar to me. The experience of becoming more deeply acquainted with these landscapes taught me about the importance of attention. Sameness can breed complacency, but alone on a mountain, the necessity of keeping one's mind engaged in the present is palpable. Things like turning my ankle many miles from a trailhead and sliding on scree to the edge of a trail with hundreds of feet of nothing a couple of inches from my toes proved that a wandering mind can be a dangerous thing. Or put another way, walking with attention can be a means of self-preservation. 

Walking for eleven days on the John Muir Trail put my ability to remain attendant to the test. Every day, I had experiences that reminded me to keep my mind on the task at hand, and I found that my best walking was done when my thoughts and feelings and motions were all one, without distinction. Achieving such harmony and sustaining it over many miles is a kind of meditation I had never experienced before. Now that I have, I endeavor to bring it into the other parts of my life so that I don't have to travel all the way into a remote wilderness to find that grounded, soaring peace. 

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