I am a most forgetful ZenBagLady/quasi Buddhist. One of Buddhism’s tenets is staying present in the moment and being curious about/mindful of/attentive to what’s happening, and not wishing away the moment.
Yet that’s exactly what I do more often than not, particularly this time of year.
Last week I wrote about Seasonal Affective Disorder (see Four Little Words: A SAD Remedy) and how when I feel the most depressed this time of year I think about when things aren’t so gloomy. While I’m all for looking on the bright side of life…
…seeing and experiencing what’s going on here and now doesn’t have to be such a dreaded thing.
Never was this more apparent than when I went hiking on Saturday. Yes, hiking. With bad knees in western Pennsylvania in January. And I thought hiking in November in our little piece of nowhere was decadent!
Larry bought me the perfect Christmas gift:
They look like ballerina legs, don’t they?
They are LEKI Makalu Trail trek poles. I expected to use them in non-snow conditions, but when the temperature edged up to near 40 on Saturday – and suffering from a huge dose of cabin fever – I suggested to Larry that we go hiking. In the snow. He said Why not? and so we bundled up, packed up the poles and some water, and headed to the Longfellow Trail in Cook Forest
As we hiked up to the Ancient Forest, the recent melting and refreezing made for a treacherous trek, at least for Larry. My spiffy poles kept me from wavering. (For the record, I offered him a pole, but being the macho hiking man he is – he’s hiked several mountains in the Adirondacks, after all – he declined.) Except for one set of “stairs” that I had to sit down on my bum (instructions I give my grandkids all the time) and maneuver to the bottom, my poles kept me upright and, more importantly, free from knee pain and injury.
In the last few days, it’s occurred to me that I could have wished for the things I thought were exclusive to my hiking happiness: flowering rhododendrons, fawns bounding through the forest, chirping summer birds, the smell of decaying leaves, the warmth of summer sun. But then I’d have missed the beauty of the ice along the path, the sun shining through leaf-bereft white ash, black cherry and red maple trees, the paw tracks of winter-hardy wildlife, the contrast of water flowing freely through Tom’s Run with the snow on its banks, and the new challenge of winter hiking. I had no idea winter hiking could be so fun and rewarding.
This has me thinking about other things I want but aren’t present here and now; situations and experiences that may not be ideal but are what they are in the moment and require an open minded approach to resolution. SAD and an unexpected weight gain…is it possible to just let them be what they are and investigate my feelings before moving on to solutions? Can I take a step back before lunging into the future, to be present right now?
I am a forgetful Buddhist. I am restless and wanting. It’s the end of January and I have SAD. Things are what they are. So without judgment, I think sit on the old cushion, breathe, and meditate on the Longfellow Trail. It really was a wonderful hike. In January. In the snow.