Welcome to my Morning

First of all, I love every season. I like the icy winds on my face when I am near Lake Erie or when I lived in New England. Nature is so absolutely objective; she just lays it out there on the line and says, “Today, you’re going to freeze your ass off,” but means nothing by it. It is absolute honesty. It does not differentiate between those who love the cold and those who don’t. The same was true in the Sonora Desert; it wasn’t unusual to hike in 110-degree heat, but it was what it was. Once in a while the desert whispered, “Go inside if I’m too hot for you.”

That’s what draws me to nature; it keeps me in the moment, I experience again what humans have experienced since the dawn of us. But these days surrounded by processed landscapes and prepackaged cities, people tend to pass judgement on everything from lip gloss to the definition of genocide; they categorize and change their minds; their moods can be unpredictable and hard to trust.

This isn’t the case in nature. Nature just might be the only place of absolute fairness. It doesn’t bully. It doesn’t ridicule or praise. It simply doesn’t care, which is all that is necessary for one to be oneself. It’s why I walk—to find myself, to be somewhere I can hear my own thoughts and find who I am again. We are so saturated with otherness these days. Cinder block hallways and poster-laden classrooms offer nothing. When I am in the woods or near water, the criticism is all internal as it should be, and, ironically, mostly positive. I am proud of myself when out there, first for being out there, for shedding the residue of concrete expectations. And what I find when the sun is sliding along the water or the leaves linger just a few moments more before letting go for good, is that I expect more out of myself out there, alone or with someone I trust, than I do when I am closed in. In the hallways and meeting rooms and online spaces saturating the air with invisible communication cables, I do what is necessary, sometimes what I think is more than necessary, but always I am tethered by others exceedingly low expectations or exceedingly high expectations, and certainly the wrong expectations. But when I’m out on my own meandering I tear down the low-bar mentality and realize what I am capable of and what I could have done if I had just listened to myself—spent more time in my Unapologetically Bob world.

I’m talking about the nature of us.

Recently, I stared out at a sea of twenty-year old’s and could tell they wouldn’t know their own thoughts if they leaked out their ears and saturated their desks. They spend no time alone, unplugged, silent with their own thoughts. It made me keenly aware of how little time I spend doing just that.

Well I did today.

When I walk along a deserted road, I take full responsibility for every thought and action and reaction. When I stroll down the oceanfront or along the river I can find the right words, discover the correct image. It isn’t only that nature doesn’t pass judgement on my decisions or actions that relaxes me and allows some sort of organic process to work at its best; it is that I can clear my head of those who do.

I’m not young anymore. But I’m still here, and as Vincent van Gogh noted, “Those of us who live; why don’t we live more?” I used to worry about being myself; but “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” (thanks bd)

It was a very long walk today. Long enough to realize, finally, I’ve started to shed those tethers which have been slowing me down. I was able to examine my regrets—it is a healthy exercise I haven’t done in a long time. When people tell me they never have regrets, I don’t believe them. I do, and I welcome them. Taking some time to look back at what I wish had done differently allows me to think ahead: to take chances when in the past I hesitated, to hesitate when I acted impulsively. Of course I have regrets; it doesn’t mean I wanted it to go differently. It’s just I’m a slow learner in just about everything. Still, I’ve done fine, but I think the only real difference between what I have done and what I know I could have done is I simply didn’t do it. It seems of all the things I’ve done and the places I’ve been, they have one thing in common—I just decided to. There was no magic, no conspiracy, no mapping out or counting down—I just decided to.

“It’s time to make mistakes again; it’s time to change the show. It’s time and time and time again to find another way. It’s time to gather forces and get out of yesterday”

–j denver

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