A nature walk (An excerpt from Radiance)

A short excerpt from Radiance: An Essay for Unsettled Time. The book is in progress.


A nature walk is no easy thing. The mind wishes to attach itself to fond or tortured memories, the mouth to rupture solitude or its communion with coursing things. Or thoughts stretch in the direction of a goal for walking or stray in anticipation toward prospects and projects…

What would it mean to stay here, to stand and move and attend to the ways in which we breathe, to the bluebirds and their delights? The mustard-colored sheep on the mustard-olive soil are growing large. One of the cows has discovered that a fallen tree whose bow is high will serve him well as an itching post for his rump. The others are lying about in the mud. Bovine existence is the mastery of idleness. No goal-directed activity means that life cannot be meaningful or meaningless; it simply is until one day when it is not.

During our walk, my love stops me, slows me, urges me to attend. Is all attending nothing apart from right pointing? It takes an art of living to turn pointing to good purpose. Attending is drawing the senses to a significant feature of the other. As gentle guidance, it opens self and other to the parsley moss, awakening both to the awe of the seeming ordinary, implying, through the gesture, a breadth of gratitude for the ordinariness of our embodied existence.