Refreshing Exercise

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I got off from work just after lunch that day… in the spring.  I drove to the lake to go for a hike.  I hiked up the mountainside on a trail that I have traveled many times.  Weeks ago: it was a different trail.  It had since been transformed.  Partly up the mountain I found that snow had piled up.  It was as if a dump-truck had just been emptied.  After a certain line of altitude and colder temperature, snow just appeared, instantly coming into vision in coldly-carved drifts, as I climbed the steps right before it, to bring it into view.  I did not expect it, but I was still dressed appropriately with a warm jacket, boots and gloves.  By the time I had reached the look-out point (about an hour and a half up the mountain) the snow was up to six or seven feet deep in places.  As I hiked up, it was not particularly cold, but the wind was gusting strong.  By the time I was at the look-out, clumps of moss and branches were falling from the tree-tops high above this British Columbia rain forest floor.

I had not planned on hiking all the way up, but the rain was holding off and the wind was inspiring in a way.  I took the challenge or the dare.  It’s not that it was much out of my way, in what is a short hike.  I had previously hiked the entire eight-hour hike across the ridge to the waterfall at the other-side of the lake, also in snowy conditions.  I did know the terrain.  I had also let a friend know where I was going, so at least I had taken appropriate steps.

Just to make it to the look-out was a invigorating reward for me.  Spiritual, in a sense.   I looked out over the lake, far across where snow drifts piled.  Only months before this had all been bare rock.  The wind continued to gust and it was not before long that I headed down.   When I got home – still in my steel-toed work boots (which made alright hiking boots), I wrote this poem.

 Motion to Create – Shaped by the Elements  (2013)

The rhythm of the tree we hang on frees us,
Trembling in the wind – And then falling back to earth,
A collective sigh in the social group-
We are free to express our inner thoughts,
The wasted ones left behind to rot,
No flavour in their life,
They twist in the breeze,
And fall to the leaves, forgotten and withering – never to make the next transition,  Forgotten,
Resurrected in the floods of Spring,
Flowing back into the system,
A revitalized memory – a new form:
At once gleaming in the sun, and still reflecting the past, the remains long gone,
Do we speak of the idle stone?  Piled, buried- just blending in,
The snow melts, the streams burst, the feet scuffle and the rock is shaken free,
The new momentum carries us far,
Forever moving with the changing time,
We choose the beaten path or forge a new way,
Shaped by the factory that is all around us,
Machines driven by an initial pulse,
Only producing what is within our reach

Today, I climbed the trail again.  It is uncertain times.  Work is slow.  It is hard finding hours and the hours that I do get seem to drag on endlessly, and painfully with injury.  I have very little interest in the subject matter of building construction.  It is essential, but I feel that my energy could be spent on work that is more meaningful to me, and a greater use of my skills.  A transition into research and psychology is happening, but it is hard to see if I can (ever) make a full career change.  On the trail today there was a sign printed out saying that a cougar had been spotted on September 8th.  I was happy to have my dog with me as a little added protection.  Respect for nature can take many shapes.  It can even allow a person to take a break from their problems and find inspiration.  Our own special spirituality.  Exercise is also a key to good health (and mental health).  Exercise, nature and being inspired each day can definitely contribute to better health.  You can take the stairs or hike a mountain.

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