This blog is for you, the dear friends who keep inviting me to go cross-country skiing. How many times have I said no? How many times have I hemmed and hawed and confidentially explained, “I would go skiing with you…but I fall all the time…just find me a straight path without hills…”
Today the Real Reason for the continual refusals emerged.
The Real Reason is this: I am head-over-heels in love with meandering in the outdoors. That means slowwww walking. Following the inner direction to the right, to the left, up there, down there, never quite knowing where you are, or where you’re going next.
It’s as if the Spirit of Nature takes you and shows you the way. Sometimes she even takes all of our crazy thoughts and throws them in the sky and we walk in a mystical state, a contemplative state, a state of flowing.
We flow from branch to branch, tree to tree, snow bank to snow bank. If we’re wearing snowshoes, we clomp from hillock to hillock. But we’re always flowing, moving to an invisible rhythm.
When I ski, I’m going fast. Usually on the edge of control. My thoughts are always panting non-stop: “Hope I don’t fall. Hope I keep up with everyone. Hope I don’t fall.” There is no meandering about it. It seems to be about speed, about gliding, about moving rapidly on the trail.
There is not a lot of time to stand around and daydream, to fall on your knees in front of leaves and belly up to indentations in the earth beneath rotting logs.
When I’m skiing I’m missing the subtle. Missing the roots, the miniscule arched curve of branches, the underground homes of the Little People. Sure, you can see another view of Gorgeous as you swoosh and slide through the magnificent woods on skis. But it’s not the view of gorgeous that I most dearly love. You know, the intricate details of nature which hide in plain sight. Which wait for eyes to notice.
OK, all that other stuff–about not wanting to fall–is true, too. But the deeper truth is that I love to go slow. I love to be silent. To give myself over to nature, to be walked by her. To be shown by her.
Does anyone else feel the same way? Or are the rest of you in love with cross-country skiing?
P.S. I’ll still go skiing on that flat trail this year! But I may be stopping…you know…if that arch of a branch waves or the snow creatures wink in the afternoon sun.