I Am No One
This morning I took a leisurely walk through my favourite arboretum. I couldn’t seem to work myself up to a good stride or break into a run. My pace was deliberately slow.
The arboretum is an emerald oasis where the sun filters through each tree in a different way.
The park was abuzz with a million cicadas hidden in the shadowy dancing light surrounding swampy ponds, freshly cut lawns and a shimmering lake. Some of the trees are over 120 years old – enormous old broads, their bark deeply ridged by gravity, time, weather and shifting soil.
I walked slowly because it seemed necessary to feel the park, to hear it, to bear witness to the small gray pebbles at the path’s edge that used to consume my attention for hours when I was a child – to the dewy grass, to the sway of the wispy willow branches just like the ones I climbed in my tomboy days in our back yard – to bear witness to what this garden had to tell me.
“Don’t think of the coming year and what it will bring, rather settle into the now of this season. Rest, reflect, prepare. Listen. There is a story the earth has to tell you.” ~ Patrick Lane, There Is A Season
Up ahead on the path, two men strolled towards me. They wore bright saffron robes from their necks to their ankles. Monks? Ghosts? A sign? I read somewhere that monks wear the colour of autumn leaves to remind them that everything falls and so it is important not to cling to earthly things, but to simply let go.
I am not a monk. Indeed I am something of a control freak. Ego bound. Head strong. I want to plan, re-shape, grasp and organize everything and everyone. But if hundred year old trees can topple in a strong wind, if the sun can dance in a completely different way with each leaf it touches, if monks can find their way into a park and cross my path, then nothing is permanent, certain, predictable or knowable.
And so I will stop trying to hold it all together, organize, list, sort, set goals, colour code or plan for another day. I will stop focusing on changing who I am. I will stop rushing. Because on this day, on this path, on this page, in this body, mind and life I don’t really need to be anyone at all.
As every illusory idea of who we are is stripped off, we can finally experience the quivering freedom of not needing to be anyone at all.” ~ Ezra Bayda, Saying Yes to Life
The earth is telling me to go easy, to lessen judgment, slow my pace, quiet my mind, ease my soul and gather a different kind of momentum than the kind found in drama, worry, desperation, want, fear and self obsessed thoughts of past and future. That kind of momentum moves in fits and starts, then peters out.
The kind found in the here and now is momentum built on kindness, love, gentle acceptance, forgiveness, struggle, challenge, and mystery.
Today in the park, I walked along. I was there — no one in particular, just there. I’ve run through that park several other times this week without really seeing or hearing it. I’ve had my ears plugged with mindless inner chatter and my heart veiled by limits, rules, shoulds and daydreams.
Today I listened. Today I felt my way along its glorious pathways. Today I heard the sound of momentum. It was not loud or forceful. It was a soft whisper in the willows.