After watching two episodes of Naked and Afraid last night, I went out into my west woods and created a lean to using my big tarp and slept outside all night. I made hot tea at the firepit and drank it watching the day break and the critters wake up. I like reality shows to see how people act and react and relate during all kinds of conditions. I know I am a different person under different circumstances. Put me in the midst of electronic and digital media and I can take charge and multi-task like a mofo. If I was on one of those shows, I’d do some survivalist research ahead of time so I could be efficiently resourceful and I’d stay goal and consquence-oriented. Collect wood for the fire while it’s still daylight so I’m not scrambling in the dark with my little self defence flashlight for home to find what I need. Build a fire before nightfall so I don’t get eaten alive by misquitoes trying to start it. Don’t drink the water without boiling it, so I don’t get sick from it. Research ways to boil water with no pan and no supplies. Those are the goals and consequences I’d make sure to stay mindful of. Have good footwear so an infected thorn doesn’t keep me down. I think of stuff like that. I used to never consider consequences, but I’ve learned that lesson.
One of my favorite times of day is early evening before my nap, when I take a quiet walk around the property and see what’s new. The loquat and mulberry trees are in full bloom now and fruiting. The trees are full of birds and squirrels having their feasts. At this time of year, every day there is new growth everywhere and it’s exciting to watch. It’s a reminder of life ever changing and growing into new forms.
We had a nice wind blow through the other day and it knocked a lot of deadfall from the trees. It is a walking meditation picking up kindling and branch deadfall each evening and breaking them into size for the firepit. Another reminder of the cycle of life. I always cut a few camphor and bay branches and hang them to dry, so I can add them to the next fire, where their fragrance releases as they dance in the flame. Their new green leaves turn into fuel for the fire, which turns into ash to fuel the soil for the new growth. Being in nature is very good for reminding me of the cycle of life, and knowing it’s all a cycle makes me have no fear of death or decline. At every stage there is value and work to be done.
I love watching a fire, the flames dancing, changing from one form into another. Another cycle of life. I love poking a fire: this area could use a little more oxygen, this area needs another stick on it. I love managing the firewood: not too much, don’t choke it, no waste. Use just enough to keep it going, use only as many branches as you need. I know exactly how much wood I need for an hour’s fire, then I watch the coals burn down for another hour. I love that in my town, you can have a fire only when you cook, so having potatoes or corn in the fire for an outdoor picnic is mandatory.
Coming in to the house after a chilly night outside makes me appreciate the dry warmth and the softness of the meditation cushion. I perceive my bones and joints differently after sleeping on my foam mat outside for hours. I can’t say they ache or hurt, I just perceive them differently. Some yoga and a hot shower will fix that. Friends ask why I don’t just pitch the comfy tent I got from Jane (story here) like I used to do, and have more comfort out there. Because it’s not always about being comfortable. For me, it’s about feeling alive and feeling connected. That can happen even when the body looks like it’s not having much fun. We live in our mind more than we live in our body.
RELATED: Last evening at the firepit
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