The Descent: Or What To Not Do for Three Days Alone in Paradise

By not doing nothing is left undone.  (Verse 37, Tao Te Ching)

Wander up the trail.  

Set up camp.  

Make a circle of stones.

Lie in the stream.

Lay on the rock.

Feel the warmth of the rock, the warmth of the sun.  

Fall asleep.

Wonder when the hunger pangs will start.

Lie down.

Add to the circle of stones. A bright rock. A charred stick.  A brown tuft of grass.  

Circle the circle.  

Seek out the dead. Dead blackened cactus and sticks. 

Don’t try. Try hard not to try.  Remember that someone said, “In order to die you have to stop trying.”  

Stop trying again. Vow to be led.  

Lie down. 

Wake up to write down the dream.  

Don’t write. Vow to get off the page and into a different way of being. If there is any recording it will be in pictures.  

Worry about Christian and Alison. I saw Christian pass on the trail but not come back. Something’s wrong. Come up with stories of what is wrong.  

As the sun leans toward afternoon, walk down the trail to place my stone. Alison places a stone in the morning, Christian at noon, me, late afternoon. In placing a stone, we know everyone is okay. Two stones are here. All is well.  So much for my stories.  

They said, “Feel the weight of the stones you have been carrying.” Feel.  

Contemplate the hill beside me. Scan it to find a way up. 

Lie down. 

Wonder on how nice it feels to lie down.

They offered, “Come back to presence with rattling.” Find two sticks to click, two rocks to bang, sparking in the night sky.  

Bang the great rock, listen to it echo down the valley.

Rap and rap the great rock. Echoing.  

Wander by moonlight. Be surprised at not being afraid.

Wake at early light.  

They told us, “When you can’t think of anything else, pray for each other.” Pray.  

And this, “Ignore all the lists. Be present to what is.” Vow again to stop trying.  

Contemplate the great hill beside me I cannot climb. Look at it every which way.

There must be a way.

They said, “If you get overwhelmed, dig a hole in the ground and wail into it. The earth can take it.” 

See the laughter bubble, the tears fall.  

Take in this Joy.  

Smile. This is my kind of backpacking – going nowhere. 

Make routines. Become a maker of ceremony, simple ceremonies to mark the day – beginning, middle, end.

Circle the little trail I made, careful around the cactus.  

Every morning, dunk in the stream followed by lying on the rock, warming in the sun.  

Venture out to meet the palm who warns me off with thorns; invites me to stand back and witness. Don’t touch. 

Circle the circle.

Contemplate the hill for a way out of no way.  

“Slow down to the body of a 90 year old.” Empathy.  

The last night, get out of bed to rap the great stone. Echoing.  Echoing. Watch the hollow rock-face give way, stone crumbling to feet. 

Wake up singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!” 

Be unsure where the giddiness and delight has come from. 

Trust not needing to understand.

Trust that not every hill is meant to be climbed.  

Bathe in the stream. 

Lie on the rock.

Warm in the sun.  

Roll up the tent.

Pack up the pack.

Say Goodbye. 

And Thank You.  

Wander back down the trail. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s