Intrepid, almost. Pen in hand, I set out for my solo hike this morning in Sedona, Arizona with a bit more confidence than years before.I had been consulting my brother, who, astride his horse in Jack London Historic Park, was giving me advice on how to deal with any snakes I might encounter.I told him that last time, I entered into negotiations with the snake and said, "I know I am on your turf and I will be very respectful if you only let me pass". Chuck told me snakes can't hear. They sense vibration. So it's best to have a walking stick and make sounds with each step. Then, I should have a pen with me, and, if bitten, circle the size of the red mark around the bite and write the time on it. Fifteen minutes later (assuming I am still conscious), I should draw a circle around the enlarged red mark and write the time so that when finally rescued, it will be clear how quickly the venom is spreading. This seems like practical knowledge that we all should know; therefore, I am passing it on to you so you can enjoy your hiking more. It struck me how little practical knowledge I do know. My brother imbibes the spirit, but not the spirits of Jack London; and, I must say it seems like a very good education. My view about nature is pretty much captured in my verbal negotiation with the earless snake. I cower and try to reason. Chuck is telling me what to do in the worst case which, of course, is the best antidote to fear.
I've been on this Boynton Canyon trail many times.I may have even written about it before for a blog, but I am too lazy to look back. The snake encounter is but one of many significant moments. There was also my 50th birthday trip with Natasha (of blessed memory), Dana, Sheva, and Bonnie, when I was asking for a little quiet along the trail in order for us to hear the sounds of nature. Instead, what I heard was an hourlong exchange of family recipes between Natasha and Sheva who do have ears.That exchange was probably far more vital and life-enhancing than quiet. I don't remember walking this trail with my father and mother. Perhaps we were exchanging childcare duties, but it takes me back to the summer trips to the Rockies, where I went on lots of horseback rides hearing my Dad serenading his horse with cowboys songs as we sauntered up the trails overlooking Granby. His horse, Little Joe, apparently liked his singing, which was amazingly melodious given that Dad's ears never heard very well. He returned to the ranch each summer to ride and refresh his repertoire of cowboy songs.
Those examples of Chuck now doing telecommunications as he patrols the park on horseback instead of from his executive office or remembering my Dad singing to his horse are moments when I saw my family members 100% in their element. Sometimes it's surprising to discover what the element might be. I had the same feeling when I walked into my sister's classroom as she was preparing for class and saw a joy that was I thought was reserved for special occasions. When I heard my daughter sing on stage for the first time and wondered who this formerly shy girl was who now was generously sharing her voice. When my son, reluctant to walk a few blocks alone to visit a friend in childhood, negotiates Brooklyn with confidence and ease. When my husband is presiding over any school event or seeing former students. When my Mom is at the dinner table with her friends in Encinitas or even as she enters the Red Rocks and just sighs happily, saying how good it feels to be back. Just yesterday, my in-laws were in their element, traveling to NYC to spend Ted's 89th birthday dining with their grandsons and their intendeds* and then making sure to see an opera and Hamilton.
My realization today is that my element is being there to witness the people I love fully present in surprising places and moments. It is also encountering unusual places and friendships as are developing in New Zealand, but that is for another blog. As a true extrovert though, these moments do not feel real unless shared. So thank you for allowing me to do just that.
Where and when do you feel fully present in your life?.
For more about this park, read Jack London State Historic Park by Elisa Stancil Levine | Arcadia ...
*I believe this may be the first instance of this plural form.