I was trying to quiet my mind. Letting my thoughts fall wordlessly onto the trail instead of grabbing them up and examining them or stuffing them into the filing system of my brain.
It had been a busy week with some deadlines approaching, some tricky interpersonal dynamics to process, some last minute scrambling and a winter storm approaching that would impact our plans for the weekend and require flexibility of mind.
So, I headed for the woods on a cold Thursday morning. Hiking up the trail, I let myself be wrapped into the presence of the tall trees, standing like sentinel along the path. It’s a trail that I had hiked just a few days earlier. And I recognized my own footprints as I went along.
The silence was soothing. The forest was as quiet as the little rabbit prints I spied on the side of the trail.
Warmed by the exertion, I climbed the path. I imagined each thought slipping out and onto the snow, to be left there to freeze rather than grasped and endlessly examined or chased like an unwinding skein of yarn.
As my mind quieted, I became more present. Present to my breath, to my footfalls, to the winter smell of snow and pine. With presence, time slows.
I looked at the boot imprints on the trail ahead that announced that I had come this way before.
Or perhaps they were made by the part of me that had gone on ahead, the part of me that was already around the bend and ready for whatever task was to be asked of me.
I stopped at the sudden sound of a woodpecker nearby. The sound reverberated through the trees with a sharp hollowness, and I thought of the line from Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese: “...announcing your place/in the family of things.”
As if this woodpecker were announcing his own place here in this world.
And I thought, “Yes, this. This is what I want for myself and for my family, for my friends and for my clients.
That we might all hear that sound arising from our own hearts, claiming our stake in this world, setting our feet upon the path that leads us home to ourselves.
I am sure there is a part of each of us that has already gone on ahead and knows what needs to be done when the time comes.
What comes into your awareness here? What does presence offer you in this moment?
Jessica Curtis is a professional coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.