Notes to the Trail (1)
A little while back, we posted an entry from guest writer Mitch Consky. Mitch is an old guide friend of ours, and a man with a brilliant way with words. He spoke to why Notes to Myself (by Hugh Prather) is the perfect camping companion. Like him, we found that book years ago, meandering our way along the trail to, as Prather so eloquently puts, our struggle to become a person.
Since then, that book has accompanied me on almost every trip I've taken. It's been there in big moments in my life, anchoring me to the gentle August breeze that is its contents. They ground me.
And, as the years have ticked along, as I've practiced telling stories and capturing the right words to convey whatever it is that's happening. Sometimes just a few phrases find their way off my tongue.
Notes to the Trail will be our ongoing homage to that foundational text. Bit by bit. So, I invite you to read on. Perhaps these words start with me, and end somewhere with you. That is my hope, at least. That whatever lands on a page can be picked up by a different pair of hands, worked with, molded, and digested as the right nourishment for whatever spirit hungers.
The role of the guide is simple - to take care of you. Ultimately, we’re there to tend to your wellbeing in an inherently vulnerable and uncertain situation. The woods, sure, but life. Life in the wild.
This can look like all kinds of things.
It can look like knowing the route, filling your belly, building the fire, hauling the gear. Logistics. Making sure that the tents don’t zip off in some blustering wind coming in from the west, and meandering our way out of our tent at night, eyes tired and hardly scampered in anything but a headlamp, while you sleep soundly and a bear follows her hunger trail to the few marshmallows left at the firepit.
Other times, it’s asking the right questions. It’s finding that thread of curiosity we all have, and giving it a gentle tug - picking at the scab of wonder and letting it bleed into your imagination.
Why do you think that tree grows like that? Where does this river start? How many stars do you think are up there? Questions. Questions. Questions. Hardly an answer. You already know. We’re just there to remind you.
And still, other times, it’s about bringing some coyote energy into the space - being a bit of a trickster. Sneaking special moments in. Surprising you.
Pulling a bottle of syrup out of nowhere for you to pour onto snow and snack on.
Throwing a colour-packet into the fire while you’re grabbing a handful of sticks.
Having twinkle lights always at the ready.
Seeming just as spooked as you at that crack in the dark woods.
It’s in those moments where the tension of magic comes to life; where the lightning bolt of sensation echoes through your spirit. It’s in that essence where the torrential pour of eternity becomes the refreshing drizzle, where the massive lake needing to be crossed reveals itself as a puddle waiting to be jumped in. We could all use a little shift in perspective. We could all use a chance to jump from the cliff of monotony, not having the faintest idea as to where we’ll land.
That’s where we can sacrifice a little passion for some depth. Where we can actually hear the pulse of the earth, echoed in our own chests.
You know the feeling. You already know what it sounds like. Hell, it’s where you come from, after all. The guide is there to remind you.
Hey you! Yes, you! Can’t you see that you are all of this magic and none of it? Can you stay here a while, in the moment of surrender to wonder, and see what births from its magic? I have no idea, but I bet you do. These moments start with me, but they end with you.
Curiousity and wonder, folks.
Right here, right now. In this moment. In this flower. In this lake. In this magical love that comes from being a spouse to the present, rather than the gigolo of what might be next. Come sit in the waters of now and stay a while.
That’s what I’m here for. I’m in it for the long, deep haul.
Thank you for letting me in.