Saturday 21st March 2020
The Pathless Path
Today I set out walking without a map because it can be very distracting, so I kept to a well trodden path, meaning I was unlikely to get lost but also meaning there were other people around. Having a wee in these circumstances can be fraught with embarassment and so it was today. I could see no walkers anywhere on the path so I nipped round a dry stone wall and bared my white, winter bottom to the world. Almost immediately I heard voices but by then I was in full flow. A group of bikers were rattling along the rutted path, and it was only because they were concentrating on avoiding the rocks that they didn’t see me crouching with my trousers round my ankles and the wind blowing round my dazzling cheeks.The wind is brutal here and I heard, that because of climate change, there is more wind in the world. “The answer, my dear, is blowin in the wind”.
After an hour I left the path to climb to the top of a hill, and phrases I had heard recently kept drifting into my mind: “we are in uncharted waters”, “unprecedented times”, and “tipping points”, all indicators that we have reached some kind of crisis. The root of the word comes from the Greek, “krisis” meaning ‘decision’ It also denotes the turning point of a disease and I thought about how our Mother Earth is heating up and at the same time, we too are fevered with virus. This is only a coincidence if you live in a one dimensional world, but to my mind, I saw maps of the world where the corona virus is extending its domain, and this thought reminded me of the maps of Australia on fire. Fever and burning everywhere. What decision needs to be made?
I got up the hill, panting and sweating and, as all walkers know, there was as yet another summit beyond, but I’d had enough for the time being and nestled into a rocky crevice to be out of the brunt wind and eat an orange. The analogy of a further summit was not lost on me. Just when we thought that climate change was enough, we are hit with a pandemic. Will we ever reach the summit?
In all the great wisdom traditions, if you are following them fully, you will reach a place where there are no more footprints to follow. The map that your church or group navigate by, can no longer lead you any further and you have to set out into uncharted waters alone. It is an experience of the disintegration of your small ego self, and here you learn that if you want a greater experience of Life, God, The Divine, call it what you will, you will first have an experience of breaking apart. I am seeing this happening among so many of my friends. It may be that as we approach a time of endings, we are wondering if this small life we have made for ourselves is sufficient. Mary Oliver asks, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
So we can brace ourselves to endure or we can open all the doors and windows of our souls and let life fly in and out of every dusty corner. This breaking, changing and coming to terms with the meagreness of our lives is happening both personally and globally.
From my friend Tony Galendes:
WORLD: There is no way we can shut everything down, lower carbon emissions, and protect the environment.
MOTHER NATURE: Here’s a virus. Practice.
Change is coming whether we like it or not, and how we experience it will be up to us, but don’t you feel, deep in your bones that your calling and destiny is so much greater than the way we have been living? Don’t you feel an exultant wildness bursting out around the edges of your being? I would rather die a premature death living in these mythic and wild times, than continue to old age, living like a zombie consumer in the corporate industrial shadow.
You do not choose to be broken.
You do not choose to lose what you wanted to love.
When the road you have travelled is wholly lost,
stand still, the horizon will beckon you.
You may remain safe,
you may stay in the place you have never left,
because you wouldn’t risk yourself.
You can endlessy start over, take the same path over and over.
But taking the journey and losing the path
means you’re going a new way.
When you’re lost, stand still, the horizon will beckon you.
Then one day you will realise that the way you came is your path,
and you will stand in the splendour of not knowing
but the horizon will always beckon you.