Wild Medicine

Hey you, guess what? I did something pretty radical this past year for an introvert like me, one who likes the comfort, cushiness, and predictably controllable environment of my sweet home base.

What I did was I left the house, regularly, and went for long hikes in the beautiful nature of Colorado. This was not something I ever liked to do before. I was actually quite afraid to be out in nature by myself, feeling ironically trapped and threatened in the vast expanse. Always with a vigilant eye and mind toward what was lurking, ready to get me. Eat me. Sting me. Rip me to shreds. Or just scare the living shit out of me. Not to mention that it was a hot, sweaty, dirty, and tiring endeavor. I used to think, “I ain’t got time for that.”

But life kind of broke me this past year and radical times call for radical measures. A healthy escape of sorts, I longed for different perspectives, trying new things, getting up, out, and away from patterns and pain that no longer served.

Stepping into it was at first hard and scary. The process was a real practice. I pushed ahead of and sidestepped my fear. Some wise person once said that fear is just excitement without breath. I let it be there and I went forward anyway. Breathed through it. Of course the accompaniment of jangling keys, poles, and bear spray didn’t hurt to allay my nerves, if only a little bit. With each step I relaxed further and further into the great bosom of Her, our magnificent Earth, and wondered how I was ever afraid of this great Beauty.

I visited several places within a short drive, but truly, I found my heart’s deepest connection to one particular piece of land, and found myself longing to return to her again and again.

This place was completely devastated by the flooding in 2013, and didn’t reopen again until the summer of 2015. She needed a full two years of recovery. She was tenderly cared for and nursed back to life by loving and devoted volunteers. Baby shrubs planted. Destructive weeds and fallen trees removed. Roads and trails rebuilt. Utterly pristine and new. It was as if she was saying, I’ve been through so much too. I know what it’s like. There is new life on the other side of destruction. I promise. Roll around in me and I will bring you this feeling. Notice me and I promise magic in return. Let my nourishment be your own.

Listening to the rushing river, feeling the sun beat down on my skin, the sweat drip down my back, peeling the socks off my tired feet to dunk them in the reservoir, the utter relief – and sometimes goosebump-raising chill – of the breeze. The profound silence pierced only by wind, birds, and the bizarrely rare voice of another human, the infrequency of which I came to feel so grateful for. Watching my dogs run ever freer and more joyful, hearing the dirt crunch under my boots, all of it was like the most simple yet heartfully sweet action-packed way to spend time. It filled me up so much. It was like being plugged into a charging station aimed to spread peace and goodness in my heart.

Returning home I felt the kind of tired that had me utterly at peace, somehow finally silencing my thoughts and leaving me to just bask in the warmth and glow of well-used muscles. Fully embodied. As if my worries were literally swept away by the wind, burned up by the sun, just not able to keep up with my feet any longer.

The moral here, I suppose, is to examine the things you think you don’t like, or even the things you’re afraid of. Turn them on their head. Try them out. Dangle a toe in unknown waters. Kick the shit out of your resistance and jump in head first. It doesn’t so much matter how you do it, as long as you are, of course, relatively safe and sane in what you’re trying. Just do it. The exact medicine you need may be waiting.

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