This past weekend I went up to the Shenandoah River State Park with our Central Va. Trailblazer Meetup Group for some camping and hiking. It was a pretty fun trip as most of the group went kayaking while I did some hiking and photo taking. I wanted to focus on the things I’m trying to do right now i.e. hiking and taking photos instead of going off on another activity. This is something I know all to well how to do (going off in another direction) and I need to get better at the core stuff. So I hiked up a ridge overlooking the river and took some photos. Then, while everyone was still gone, I went back to our camp and cooked some macaroni and cheese with my little alcohol stove. At one point I made a sudden move while sitting there in front of the macaroni and something took off in the woods behind me. It was pretty loud and fast. It wasn’t a squirrel. Any ideas? I know it wasn’t a squirrel because they don’t scare so easily. One was prancing around the camp and climbing the food poles while I threw little stones at him. He didn’t care. He undoubtedly had seen it all before and was more concerned about the take.
There was no mobile communication out here and after making lunch I had a couple hours before everyone returned from the kayaking. What to do? I just sat there and looked up at the trees. My brain slowed down and my body sweated in the heat as the sun dodged the tree limbs and lit me up. I thought once or twice about walking out of there, getting in the car and traveling a few miles up to Front Royal for some shopping. But it didn’t make sense to head back to civilization after making so many preparations to leave it for a short time. So I just gave it a rest and sat there listening to the insects and realizing in a dim way that everything around me was not only alive but aware and I could be aware too. I’ve known how to do this since I was eight years old and spent a month or so in the hospital near the door to the next world. I will never forget finding a very comfortable place where time seemed unimportant and every sound was an interesting moment. Years later, I learned how to meditate and revisit this state of mind with the added benefit of a few blissful moments of spiritual realization. It’s all there once we exit our rational routines and 9 to 5 mentalities (you can have one of those long after you retire without much effort).
There is time for all of this once we decide to do it but it is slightly scary. What will I miss? What’s happening at home? People need me, dammit! (not so much). The rational mind is always ready to pick up and return to “normal” but you can only walk that road so long before you realize it leads to deeds of necessity, perhaps, but nothing much else at all.
Later I went down to the river and crawled out into the stream trying to avoid bruises and floating after awhile in a state of wonderful relaxation. Then I sat in a meditative posture with the water up to my neck facing the late afternoon sun and meditated for awhile. There was a beautiful breeze and children playing in the water about a half mile away. I was suddenly immersed in a blaze of inner peace and tranquility feeling the presence of something more important than all my mundane thoughts.
And finally I returned to the campsite as the happy group arrived from their kayaking adventure and we all settled down around a small fire to talk about whatever came to mind. Here are some photos from the weekend.
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