3:45 a.m. The Milky Way twinkles silently over head. Restless sleep in the back of Hotel Prius, but small admission price to pay for entrance into one of the last large tracts of wilderness left on the planet. I heat some oat meal in a pot next to the car and by 4:45 a.m., I start walking for a day in the high country. As I zig zag up the switchbacks with headlamp beneath tall trees and over tumbling waters, I remember an album cover of a monk carrying a huge crystal on his back, hiking into the Himalayas. We must continually put forth effort in order to polish the spirit to perfection. I softly chant the mantra of compassion – “Om mani padme hum” to any creatures listening, seen or unseen, whether in physical form or spirit.
I need this silent embrace in the forest and high country in order to let go of accumulated mental-emotional garbage arisen out of the stresses and conflicts of living within a materialistic culture that is radically out of balance and pushing human civilization, and much of life on the planet, to the brink of extinction. It is also an opportunity to test my readiness – in both practical survival techniques, and readiness to face my inevitable mortality. I find a small stream trickling over rocks and drink plentifully, filling both my water bottles. I have a little over a liter, which will need to last for another 5 or 6 miles. Morning dew drops sitting delicately atop bushes fat with blue berries, and clinging to pine needles offer another water source though and I pause frequently to drink like the deer, sucking the drops off the foliage. Exquisite!
At a trail junction, I stop to meditate for a while. Sitting, chewing an energy bar, taking in the view of distant glaciers, feeling the warm touch of the morning sun on my body, this life is good. I need these reminders to be grateful for the beauty to be found even in urban life, simply being present with what is.
A family of five deer grazing nearby casually observes the lone human. A bull elk and his companion stroll on the trail up ahead. Three ravens play tag high above. These creatures have no seat at the table of decision makers deciding whether or not to take the climate emergency seriously. I must represent!