Has it really been a month since I hiked off the trail?
‘Seems impossible that one month ago today I was lying in a tent on a frosty morning deep in the northern Vermont woods 5 miles from Canada….
As I said, my thoughts these past four weeks have been largely hijacked by popular culture and news stories, such that my walk across Vermont seems a lifetime ago.
It seems fantasy. Not real.
But when I unplug my devices, and withdraw from the unnerving drone of the news, I find all it really takes is a moment’s stillness and a single deep breath to take me back to the quiet of the trail.
Do it now.
Take a deep breath.
Now look at this photo.
You have come a long way today.
You are tired, but content.
You are fed, and you are warm, bundled as you are in an old wool sweater, a little cap on your head, a red bandana around your neck.
In your hand, a steaming mug of tea.
You are alone — blissfully alone … except for the couple of crows who glide in and out of sight … not another sound but their wings, an occasional caw….
You’ll have this night to yourself.
In this welcoming shelter.
… with this little table at which to write.
It will be the first night you have spent alone — completely alone — in the woods. Ever.
You will sleep well and deep.
And come morning, you will rise to a beautiful day.
You will hike in solitude, for hours, through expansive hardwood forests, where,
from the shadows of beech trees, the cheerful ghosts from your childhood will whisper and sing to you.
and the next…
and the next after that
will be among your most cherished.
For you will have been present. Fully. Present. With each. Footfall.
For you will have heeded Thich Nhat Hanh — whose book Long Road Turns to Joy,
you’ve been carrying with you :
Breathe in and take one step, and focus all your attention…. there is Buddha nature in you.
Buddha nature is the capacity of being aware of what is going on.
Buddha nature is what allows you to recognize what you are doing in the present moment
and to say to yourself: I am alive; I am taking a step.
Anyone can do this.
There is a Buddha in every one of us,
and we should allow the Buddha to walk.
Come, let us walk.