As I work through the revisions of my poetry collection, I’ve tried to move closer and closer into my interior become as calm and thoughtful as I can be. This is a necessary part of good revision. It is for me anyway, and I’ve been going through as many different ways to find mindfulness, a way to focus on each moment without the delusional stress of multitasking, as I can.
As I worked through and reflected on my life there were a number of moments when I find that I was completely at peace, and I’ve tried to analyze those moments. There were many of course, and one of the ways that I got to that space was early morning walking.
Walking as an adult has often descended to the level of merely exercise. I go out in order to get my heart pumping, and I have been guilty of moving as fast as I can for as long as I can. This misses most of the point of early morning walking.
Much better were those walks I took when I was young. Each year, my parents would rent a cabin in Sequoia National Park, and anyone who loves hiking knows that the best hikes start just at dawn. I’d grab granola bars and hike out through the giant trees in the restful quiet of early morning stirring. I’d hike until I knew that no one would be near me and eat as I looked out across a meadow or over the tree tops from a cliff.
People will tell you to eat without distraction, and that’s good advice. I suppose this was a kind of distraction, but I have never known food to taste better or for me to be more in the moment and focused on what I was eating. Each sense was flooded at those moments with stimuli.
Later when I was older, I lived in the mountains above Los Angeles, and my overly excited dog would wake me just as dawn was rising and pull me out of the door. I found that if I wanted to eat I had to do it on the trail someplace where I could pause, and he could sniff out life. The food gained flavor and importance in my mind. If there’s nothing worse than eating in front of a television, then there’s nothing better than eating a hard boiled egg while you watch the wind working its way through the trees.
I’ve started the breakfast picnic tradition again even though my dog’s too old to pull me out of the house and I don’t have a forest to tromp through. The city has just as much magic to give as the mountains. Both are places of great beauty and peace if your eyes are open, and you bring peace with you. The act of eating as you watch the world waking up is a sacred act. The world renews itself around you as you renew yourself with it.