“The successful part of any system, is the most flexible one” -Presupposition
Very soon, I will be heading out on my Wilderness Quest for the year. In preparation for this, I went out on a medicine walk. As the day began, and I knew that the journey ahead was unclear to me, (I didn’t even know my destination spot let alone my intention was still foggy) I grew angry, of all things. As I prepared, packing my journal, layers and water, looking over maps and reading about trails. I grew more and more angry. I couldn’t not find the map I knew I had bought just a couple month back and none of the online maps were clear. And the more and more things were missing or hard to find the more and more angry I got. I even began to throw things around my house in complete and utter frustration. Resolving nothing, I just decided to head out, figuring I’d find my way, because looking for it wasn’t working.
On my way out, I ran an errand for a friend and this was my first reprieve from the day’s anger. To be of service, to get out of myself, it lasted only a moment, what it was potent.
Then I ventured to the National Forest Service Ranger Station. I was seeking the Petroglyphs of Bear Valley, I had seen picture images and wished to sit with them personally feeling connection to land and the people who know this land, with deep ancestry. Knowing exactly where I wanted to go, but unable to find the trailhead on any map, I asked for help, I turned to my community members. But alas, they too did not know. (frustration building again) I sorted through their maps, studying them carefully to memory. I found and bought the map that I needed. Much later than I hoped for, I hit the road. Parked my car and headed toward a large meadow.
The grass was as tall as I was. The wind blew and I found myself in awe of it’s oceanic waves. But the path, that, I could not find. I dove into the meadow regardless, thinking I would come across it at some point. After all, the map led me here. The ground was uneven and hard to see in the tall grass, my legs taking large steps, I grew tired and hot quickly. I climbed on top of a boulder in the middle of the meadow, in hopes the height would provide insight as to where the trail was. There was no such luck. My anger grew inside me as one thing after another did not work out. I began my ceremony, crossing the threshold on that boulder, marking the intention of stepping into my adulthood more fully. With all I had learned over the years, I wished to release the ways depression and anxiety overcame me and move more confidently into know myself and holding myself to offer my gifts to the world.
I never found the path that day. The map, I consulted often, continue to lead me astray. I trudged through what felt like an endless field of tall grass, noticing my anger and the the magnificent beauty in ever other moment. “Why can’t I find my way?” “Wow, the grass is so soft between my fingers.” “I am so tired from all this difficult walking.” “The swallows have this beautiful blue coloring as they dive for their meal and sometimes dance with a mate.” I even began walking up and down route 20 to seek out any sort of sign for this trail, alas, finding a sign the size on my palm, but upon following its marker, I found no trail of any sort.
I threatened giving up, longing for the creature comforts of food (my stomach grumbling from the fast), company (a good distraction from this madness or at least a companion in it) and shelter (a good bed after all that wild terrain.) Though I knew, at this point, I had past the point of no return. I wandered more and more. Finally thinking that I would return to a trail I knew well, despite the arduous journey up a bumpy dirt road, meeting deer* along the way, reminding me to be gentle with myself. And yet again, I am stopped in my tracks, 5.75 miles up this road, a truck stuck in the mud sideways across the road. I began to ask myself again and again, what is this day about? The truck got out of the mud with a little help, and I found myself on top of a snowy mountain, no trails to be found yet again. I sat in a tree, suffering the wind and cold. Until, I decided, no, this is not my offering, this struggle is no longer me, as I mark my adulthood, I mark my ability to make choices that feel good for me and help me live my truth.
Down the arduous dirt road I went. Seeking another trail along the way, and over and over, I could not find one. Tired and with everything in me giving up, I found myself along a lake by the side of the road, populated with people, which would have angered me just hours ago, but didn’t because I lost all energy for anger. I sought out a little corner of the shoreline, and all of me surrendered.
I took rest for the first time all day. Watching the waves of the lake as the day grew old, in the remembering of the meadow’s waves in the morning hours. I watched mallard ducks glide across water, take flight, meet their flock and call out, all in the symbolism of finding comfort in your element.* I watched a lady bug* rotate in her circle, cleaning her antenna or just getting comfortable. A dragonfly* nymph, using my finger as his seat, spent a long while with each other, watching the waves of the lake change with the breeze.
Then children came to play just 100 feet away. Loudly creating their game as they went on. Each child declaring new rules and the others quickly and easily complying as they collected branches twice their height. I laughed at my intention. Thinking of the anger that lingered through my day, and how my rigidity contributed to it so. How my greatest medicine was to move away from the adulthood I so wished to intentionally mark a new beginning of, and embrace the child. The changing of the game and adapting to what is. To let go of the map of the trail that is meant to be so clearly marked, to release any diagram of where and what things are, for which, in life, there really is none.
I can so effortfully move through life to try to get somewhere I think I should be, or I can sit by the lake, be in the senses of the child, knowing that every place of being is wonderful. Perhaps I did not sit in the most perfect spot for that rigid part of me, yet the perfection met me. Medicine received. Everything I thought I knew is bogus! So begins the new rules to the game I am making up as I go; and the best thing I can do, rather than grow angry, is accept it, pick up my giant branch and carry on enjoying the spontaneous adventure of life!
Five years ago, I had a map, and the more I tried to stay on the path the more I found myself off of it, in a field or overgrown grass, needing to trust my instincts in choosing a direction and creating my own path. Is it the task of growing up and into myself.
What do you do when you find yourself in a pathless field of tall all-encompassing grass?
*Deer totem shows one a new innocence and freshness in life. You will feel the gentle lure of new adventures. There will be an opportunity to express the gentle love that will open new doors.
*Duck totems are symbols of feminine energy, emotional comfort through water connection, remind us to drink deeply from the waters of life, to find comfort in your element and with those of like mind and spirit, to maneuver the waters of life with grace and comfort, and teaches us to assist others in moving through emotional tangles.
*Ladybug animal totem heralds a time of luck and protection in which our wishes begin to be fulfilled. Their presence signals a time of shielding from our own aggravations and pests. Higher goals and new heights are possible with a Ladybug totem. Worries begin to dissipate. New happiness comes about. Ladybug also cautions not to try to hard or go too fast to fulfill our dreams. Let things flow at their natural pace. In the due course of time, our wishes will all come true.
*Dragonfly totem are symbols of Illusion, the Power of Light, inhabiting two realms: air and water. Dragonfly is the essence of the winds of change, beckons one to seek out the habits that need change. Dragonfly guides one through the mists of illusion to the pathway of transformation..