I am not a religious person. I never have been, and I really don’t see myself becoming religious in the near future. I would describe myself as a spiritual person, however. I’ve felt that way ever since I was 10 years old and began writing poetry. Anything in nature that heightened my sensitivity really stuck with me, and I either had to capture it in writing, in drawing, or in some type of artistic expression. Now that I’m older, that creative urge has come back, but I delve into it less than I used to do. I question it more often as well. My words get edited before I ever type them, and I rethink them continuously. Thinking is my “thing” I guess you could say. It helps me solve problems creatively, and it allows me to process my world systematically. It also trips up my “creative flow” and I notice that when I over-think something that is going on in my life, I usually set up more mental road blocks than there are actual obstacles to whatever is bothering me at the moment.
This morning, I woke up later than usual (6:45 a.m. to be exact). I walked my dog, drank my coffee, and graded a lot of my students’ essays. I hit a point late in the morning when I didn’t know how I would structure my day. This thinking led me down the path to start analyzing my life and what I want, what I lack, what I think I need, etc. Before I started on that treadmill of thinking, I heard my inner voice calmly say, “Just breathe. Just sit here in your recliner, close your eyes, and breathe.” I did. And then something lovely happened, I started to get relaxed and my mind, while still very active, cleared a little space, a little breathing room for me so to speak. Next, I started telling myself, “Trust God,” and began repeating that mentally in my mind. Sometimes it varied from that phrase to “Trust in the Universe,” but in my mind and in my spirit it is one in the same. Some would say I was praying. Others would say I was meditating. Maybe others would say I was just being lazy and should get up off my butt and go do something. But I just sat there. And it felt good. It felt right. I didn’t make a decision, and I didn’t pass judgment on myself on all the weird and random thoughts and images that popped into my brain. I just tapped into my mantra so to speak, and waited.
I thought, “Surely I will have an epiphany if I sit here long enough.”
I sat there for about 10 minutes. The only thing that came to me after I opened my eyes was that I should go on a walk.
A bit disappointed in not having had some type of revelation or insight into my life, I climbed my stairs and went in my bedroom and changed into my workout clothes. As I was climbing the stairs, I heard a rendition of “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” by The Avett Brothers in my mind. An early morning dream I had came back to me, and I do remember that it was accompanied by that song. “Interesting,” I thought, but really didn’t overanalyze why it was there (unusual for me not to analyze, by the way). I guess I didn’t think much of it because I always wake up with songs in my head, and they can be as random as this one, or as pop-lyric punched as Rihanna’s latest dance hall hit.
When I got to Longacre Park, I began the mile and a half walk that takes you over small hills, around a pond, and in between pine and oak trees. The sky was overcast and a gentle mist of rain was falling. The humidity was high, and it took no time for me to work up a sweat. I slowed down when I saw a slow moving car being followed by a gaggle of geese who were looking for a handout of bread crumbs. They made me laugh. They also reminded me to look out for their droppings that littered the gravel trail. I watched as one mother took pictures of her little child on the swing-set, and I laughed as two geese intercepted me at the little bridge. They trumpeted at me, and I smiled and talked back to one of them saying, “Hey little dude, you gotta move.” He didn’t and I had to walk around it and its fresh deposit on our trail.
Halfway around the pond, I began to wonder if I was ever going to have some type of “aha” moment or feel a strong connection with my greater spiritual side. I recently watched a documentary on the Apollo moon missions. All of the astronauts talked about how the vastness and silence of space along with the beauty of seeing the earth at a distance revealed to them how everything and everyone is connected not just molecularly but by a strong universal power that is not a man made creation of religion, politics, or even basic science. I wondered if I would ever feel that way or recognize that our lives, our emotions, our minds, ebb and flow like the tides that are pulled by the moon, which in turn is pulled by some unknown spiritual being or entity.
At the 1 mile mark, I had forgotten that I was even worried about those thoughts, and I had forgotten that I was worried about how I would structure my day or how I would work on trying to achieve my future goals. I simply started listening to the gravel crunch beneath my tennis shoes. I looked up and saw a beautiful stretch of pine trees neatly placed in a row and following a white gravel path that wound around a bend. I heard my morning song, and I realized that this was my moment of revelation. And just like that, it was gone, but I was one step closer. . .