No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man -- Heraclitus
... for the path is never the same, and you are never the same. I have walked (i.e., meditation walks) two sets of trails near my home hundreds (perhaps thousands) of times and have never once had the same experience. Not only are there the changes that occur with the passing of time, there's the intersection of my internal here (what am I thinking, feeling and sensing that either amplifies the experience or interferes with the experience?) and the external now (what is happening around me? What has been changed by man/nature? What role does the season or the weather play?).
This is what I call my here-now experience that comes fully alive when I focus on being present to what I see, hear and feel on any given walk. Of late, I've started writing down one thing about each walk that stands out -- sometimes it's an external "wow" and at other times it's an internal "a-ha." The metaphors and symbolism are then considered in the bigger picture of my life.
Here's a sampling of my different path, different me walks (and the questions that came to mind):
- A squirrel was running ahead of me in a serpentine pattern, leading the way down the greenway for more than 75′ then jumped off at the point on the trail where my favorite tree had been taken down. (Where do I need to be open to pathways that lead me to where I need to go, but aren't the straightest or fastest paths? Where do I need to pay attention more to the journey rather than the end-point?)
- The red crepe myrtles let go of their petals, creating a red shag carpet on the cement. (How do I open my eyes to see beauty in those things that are discarded or aged?)
- The blue heron stood alone by the edge of the pond -- similar in form to the trees that stood near the water. (I have since learned that his partner died in a winter storm and he spends his time going back and forth between two ponds.) (Where am I playing too small? How is it that I blend into my surroundings -- in ways that are positive or negative?)
- I found a hardware, metal nut on the ground and added it to my "things found" collection at home. (Where do I need to lighten up in my life (i.e., be more of a nut)? Or, is there someplace where I need to be building/creating something more?)
- Seven large black crows greeted me at the end of my walk. (Thinking of crows as a totem animal -- where in my life do I need to be more flexible, adaptable, or fearless? How do I need to transform?)
- Someone chalked in a "Squirrel Crossing" path across the sidewalk. (LOL -- seriously, a squirrel crossing in a straight line?)
- I came up with two great ideas for my counseling work... yes, two separate "a-ha" moments on two different walks. (FYI -- when ideas come to me while walking, they are instantaneous "zaps" of creativity rather than long-and-hard thought processes... I trust these right-brained flashes to be more valuable than my left-brained plodding logic.)
- A snail was slowly making its way across the sidewalk to get to the other side. (OMG -- what parts of my life are moving along at an unbearable slow speed? And, what parts of my life are moving along at full-speed ahead that need to be reined in?)
I then take these into my day (similar to how I might ponder a dream and its meaning), and in an open-ended way ask myself "what is it I need to know?" to see if there are any hidden truths to help me see my life differently.