Pass Thurn, Jan. 2022

I notice paths that exist already, drawn by humans or by nature. Sometimes both. I see how they cross and overlap. What about forging a new path? Is it possible, or does every path belong to another in an ever-unfolding network? How can I wander aimlessly? Ah! I found a place with no path! The rush of energy propels me. I can feel its roots in fear. Where will this lead? What if I get stuck or trapped or fall off the mountain? I rush forward into the unknown with the energy of fear turning into curiosity and acute presence. No wrong steps, otherwise, nature might swallow you whole.

I come across a dead tree growing into the earth as a live tree grows into the sky. Or does the live tree grow into the earth, and the dead tree dissolves into the air around me?

I am not alone. I see another lone traveler. I call out to him. He is a philosopher of religion, studying paths of devotion and enlightenment. He is in nature to find and follow the contemplative path. We chat about Heidegger and Kant. Dasein and Ego dissolution. Humbled by our other companion, death. Humbled by everything around us that we cannot tame or claim. All the while, I fall again into a deep state of trust with the unknown path and its unfolding. In life, it always leads you where you ought to go. Here, I am exactly where I ought to be. Our collective hopeful energy fuels us to climb higher. I trust as I follow his footsteps along the narrow ridge. He trusts as he follows my dancing feet over caves that fall into the ice. He and I are both strangers, and our trust extends into the unfolding world around us. As far as I trust the dying tree will carry my soul with it into the fog. But that is not here in this moment, so I call my energy into me, instead of directing it to some future place. This way, I can move it in any direction at any time. I can choose to move any way. I choose to move together with this man in the woods. I choose the path that benefits both of our survivals in the cold as the sun begins to set over the mountains. The earth may be ready to absorb me among its many layers of winter decay, but I am not yet ready to stop moving. I move forward with a kind of cyclical momentum, like the earth travels around the sun. Respectfully, I am a soft membrane moving among a system of life that I cannot begin to fully understand. So, the question lingers for tomorrow. Forest, trees, nature… who are you?

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