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QUINTESSENCE

Late Summer

Priest Lake Moonrise

MONDAY MORNING, LATE SUMMER
On the fence
in the sunlight,
beach towels.

No wind.

The apricots have ripened
and been picked.
The blackberries have ripened
and been picked.
- Robert Hass, from the poem "Cuttings"

I've been looking at accountability. Mine. I've been looking back at posts about writing and creativity, living and making meaningful choices. Have I done the things I said I would, made the changes I want, pursued priorities that matter? At times it feels like a win to simply slow the busyness, delete the detritus that clouds quiet moments.

How hard in this modern world to make space for clarity. Space reclaimed from work/life schedules, from cleaning out our physical surroundings - or it might be all in our heads. The important thing is this: without inner clarity we lack a life map to navigate where we are to where we want to be. Mapping begins with honest assessment, checking in, and acknowledging our choices.

Each of us has a place, a person, a time, where the world slows and life opens, and we look deeply at the mechanics of our own happiness. We understand with profound certainty the desires and needs that guide a life well-lived, a life examined. Our life.

This is part of a post from August 2013:

"The opening of the chest, the heart chakra - the deep breathing and calm rhythms of a lengthy period on break - profoundly alters the mind as well as the body. When we step out of the box, the stress-filled, demanding, unrelenting responsibilities of the 24/7, we begin the restoration of the soul. The wide empty stretches on life's blue highways are far and few between. We live in a plugged-in, high demand, ever-changing, stimulating world. Down time, wayside adventures, lags in scheduling seem to have disappeared. We are "on" and plugged-in every moment of the day: pinged by messages, alerts from work, urgent global news, the carousel of social media even when we sleep.

Peace. Where do we find it?

Thoreau championed "disconnect and rediscover" for the human soul. And indeed, I found it interesting to watch my family - traveling to a rustic cabin on the lake shore with four smart phones, two laptops, three iPads, two iPods and one Shuffle - slowly adapt to silence. From initially trekking down the trail to the nearest wifi spot for internet signal, to eventually, mournfully, accepting the one half-bar of cell service off the lake, to at last letting the devices sit in their cases, untouched. This withdrawal from the digital world was painful and amusing - catching ourselves automatically engaged in a pointless click to check email, Twitter, FB. The urge to plug in releasing ever so slowly; replaced by naps sunning on beach towels, guitar on the deck, long conversations by candlelight at the picnic table. The luxury of delving into not just one chapter, but an entire book. Board games and cards, a crackling fire and mellow whiskey.

We relearn the nurturing quality of quiet. The giving earth. Taking in the whole of life. Lulled to deep sleep by the waves lapping the lake shore, the creak of wind in the trees. Awaking with bird calls in the dawn.

We disappear to the cabin every year, coming from wherever we are in the four corners of the world, from whatever education, work, or travel schedules occupy us, ready to find our way back to ourselves. We reconnect not just within, but together. And when the last spider is slapped with a sandal and tossed out the door, when the last huckleberry has made its way to a pancake drenched in maple syrup, the final pot of camp coffee poured to the dregs, we pack up our beach chairs and return to the world.

Halfway down the road to civilization the electronics buried in our duffles ping on, buzzing and downloading in a frenzied burst and we have to laugh. The world. It doesn't wait, and it doesn't matter."

This weekend I am headed north for two weeks to the remote quiet shores of Priest Lake once again. At the lake, I will find silence. You will find me on the deck at sunset, feet propped on the rail, a mellow scotch in hand. The evening star rises over the lake, bright against the rose-colored Selkirk Mountains.
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