Sometimes the silence has to be deafening

Gunpowder Falls

Gunpowder River

And here I sat, bewildered at the reality that the swirling demands of my life and what I consider my “priorities” always take shape and come into focus when I’m away from “it” all, sitting the lap of nature. Often I come to the relevation that I need to change course.

I woke this morning with the noble goal of clipping coupons and heading to the grocery store. But, this simple trip turned into something else altogether. I bypassed the grocery store altogether with the mandate of figuring “it” all out, today.

I drove purposefully until I found my way to Gunpowder Falls, these winding paths, trees, assorted streams and the rushing river have served as my psychiatrist countless times over the years.

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I inhaled deeply, kneeled down to lace up my boots, after observing the knot I rose to my feet and started walking, with the goal of figuring “it” out all out firmly planted in my head.

I walk until I am unable to hear the world that I left behind me and when this happens, a feeling of peace envelops me.

Making my way on the trail.

Making my way on the trail.

The ground is saturated with the rain from the past day so that I hear each step that I make with a sloshing consistency.

And much to my surprise many of the areas where I would sit engrossed in my thoughts in years past are flooded over, so I continuing walking North.

After coming to section of the forest that I would leisurely walk across to reach the other side, I discover it is flooded, but I am undeterred.

I push on.

I push on.

So, I group all of my items into my pockets and push ahead. I make my way across the stream without falling in, much to my surprise.

Keeping my balance, even though these boots are waterproof.

Keeping my balance, even though these boots are waterproof.

As I continue on the river widens, I cautiously navigate the rocks in the river to make my way across to a subsection of small islands, where I grab a seat to bear witness to it all.

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I sit here for over an hour being soothed by the sounds of the water crashing against the rocks. My mind conflicted with my futile pursuit of living life just to be living it, rather than living it with a purpose.

I’ve often heard people oversimplify the journey of life by saying that “We are born to die” but as I sit here I realize that we are born to leave a legacy, to leave the places that we inhabit in a better state than we found it in.

This is in direct contrast to being a taker rather than one who gives and enriches.

Then…

An overwhelming sense of clarity hits like a thud.

Solace is ever present here.

Solace is ever present here.

What is it that I am running from that I have to rediscover it here?

I’ve spent so much of my life looking at life as a adversary, angry because it has rebuffed my pleas of friendship when I would have been better served, respecting it as a teacher and being mindful that life is an exercise of living on borrowed time.

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Something for my headache

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I entered uneasy with a dull throbbing pain  reverberating throughout my head and I began to walk. I was not naive to the fact that my walking was serving as a metaphor for the toxic build up from the week that was I found myself trying to escape from.

I soaked in the sights, sounds and smell to no avail… I heard a dull drone of cars in the distance, which served to increase the power of my headache and I continued on, like a man on a mission and decidedly so, because I am literally at my wits end.

As continued walking the fog and incessant throbbing in my head began to wane somewhat and I instinctively looked up to see the point of no return.

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The area that nature forbade the intrusion of all things and elements foreign to her domain. The trees and her branches were welcoming and with a relative snap of the finger the headache was gone.

In lieu of the headache being gone a backlog of clarity descended upon me and washed away all that ailed me. So I found a spot in the middle of the stream where I sat, savored and fortified myself for whatever would see fit to obstruct my path in the coming week.

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The mist and the cool sensation of the water
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Soothing my soul in the best way I know how – The Falls

Rocks State Park is probably one of the most serene places in Maryland.

I often find myself here when my stress load is at its apex. Like I’ve mentioned in my previous writings, water serves as a dumping ground for what could otherwise be the insanity inducing travails of life.

Often, I sit at the streambed and not unlike a file making its way to a Smartphone or a computer… I download, my eyes are like a USB cable as they provide me connectivity with the flowing current of the water.

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Eventually, I break my connection with the water and make my way 190 feet up to a natural rock outcrop that was once a ceremonial gathering place for the Susquehannock, called the King & Queen seat. And I let the wind blow through my person as I survey the life that is teeming below me.

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As I make my way down from the King & Queen Seat… I know I can’t leave from the confines of the park without paying my respects to the Falls.

Kilgore Falls is what makes this area so dangerous to the element of time, as I always lose track of it, sitting at the base of the falls, being covered in the cooling mist.

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The beauty that is encountered on the way is no match for the splendor of the falls. I always make sure to walk slowly, to absorb every bit of the solace. Keeping my ear trained to capture the initial sound of the falls, is an exercise in suppressing the climatic moment…

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As I make my way up the path to the Falls… Each time is like it is my first.

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She beckons me closer and commands that I sit… I can’t resist her and I acquiesce.

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My assorted flings with Mother Nature

 

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Unfortunately, I am not as young as I used to be, but I am as young as I often lie about being.

With that being said, I have no qualms about getting older as it is better than the alternative, of slow decomposition or inhabiting a decorative urn in the form of ashes.

With each passing day of accumulated wisdom, I have come to the realization that this uber-connected world that I make my living in is an extremely toxic environment, I find myself needing deeper excursions into the loving embrace of Mother Nature for the purpose of loosening the tentacles that dull the sense of inner peace that I feel when I’m with her.

I have always had this amorous relationship with water… The sound, the scent of it seemingly washes away whatever is burdening me and often it becomes an act of sheer willpower to peel myself away.

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Mother Nature undoubtedly is a drug, but unlike all drugs… Can you overdose off of solace? If so, I wouldn’t mind being the first.

 

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Mother Nature vs. Connectivity to the World at Large – Round 1

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Call it a contrived overblown figment of my imagination, but I can say definitively that my communes with nature have had a mentally detoxifying effect on my psyche. I shudder to think of the alternative, had I not discovered the rejuvenating properties of being enveloped in the arms of Mother Nature. Would I be ensconced in a straitjacket; uncontrollably drooling from the side of my mouth, while rhythmically rocking myself back and forth or might I be an incessantly angry individual over the slights that the world routinely doles out?

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Our uber-connected existence is a double edged sword, we are forced to engage, compelled to assimilate or otherwise we are left out in the cold. Seemingly, it is the price that we begrudgingly or unwillingly pay for merely existing in the 21st century.

Many of us; myself included, are at the point of no return. The idea of tossing my Smartphone into the swirling tempest of the waters that I am entranced by has crossed my mind a number of times, but at what cost?

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I am tethered to my Smartphone, dare I say that I am not as smart as I would like to think I am without its quad core processor at my disposal. Sadly, I can’t recall much of anything… From upcoming meetings with clients; phone numbers; email addresses for family members, let alone my statistics from my most recent workout.

The million dollar question is this… Are we better human beings for all of the efficiency that technology provides us or are we less human because of it? Dare I say that social media is an oxymoron? As it is the contention of many people that it makes us less social in many instances. We fix our gaze on the screen of our Smartphone’s more intimately than we do our fellow human beings, often we won’t even bother to acknowledge a person within our immediate radius, merely because it is too labor intensive to fire up our vocal cords.

Our technology has a duality in that it has become the proverbial link to our livelihood and in some respects, our identity.

But, as I ponder the answers to these questions and others, the sights, sounds, scent, touch and taste of Mother Nature wipes my mental slate clean… And I scuttle into the escape that is Nature and allow the lull of the water mercifully drown that which was weighing on me and everything is back in balance; at least for now.

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