Ancient Paths

Alone in the woods. Already I have turned my back on the freeway, the thoroughfares, the interstates, the bypasses and overpasses and intersections and side roads, the back roads, dirt roads, logging roads. All these ways through the world where you spend your time rushing from place to place, always one step beyond where you are, moving toward a future at lightening speed and leaving things behind you never even saw or got to know. Instead I am here in the woods, off trail, making my way through the undergrowth and over the rock outcroppings, pausing to stand still and listen for the direction of the wind, for the wing beats overhead that precede the shadow of outstretched wings crossing the ground in front of me. The crackle of leaves pulls me in another direction. Curiosity guides my feet instead of a worn track or path. A cloud covers the sun and the bright warm meadow darkens and chills, the mood shifts and my feet slow to a stop. Uncertainty replaces curiosity and I wait.

To move ahead in what direction? Toward the sound of movement in the brittle grasses or away from that unknown and back the way I came? Or maybe to head for a familiar place, a tree whose spreading branches create a ladder to the sky. There to look down on the field below and get a sense of where I am in the bigger picture, to see all the possible directions I might proceed and know where I might end up.

The cloud passes and staring down at my feet I see a splatter of tiny blue drops of sky. Kneeling down I find the minuscule flowers of the Blue Eyed Marys, all across the grass. I had walked over them to get here, never noticing them. The place where I am is where I need to go.

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