Sometimes expecting something and getting nothing is a much richer gift. Hoo-nōs
My annual wilderness trip (it was official wilderness, but about an hour from the trailhead, so I was not in the middle of nowhere) had been amazing for the second year in a row after about a decade of semi-contrary weather. I had decided to stay an extra day since I was feeling like there was some learning afoot, not yet realized.
For a week I had been hiking about from my campsite, loafing by stream or lake, napping, puttering, pondering, reading—this trip it was Foucault’s Pendulum, by Humberto Eco. Like reading Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, I did not initially understand what was going on (even when I began to understand there were still many areas in both books where I drew blanks). Nonetheless, the difficult start with Foucault’s Pendulum was mostly punctuated by my laughing out loud at the way Eco could turn a phrase.
Eco’s story was one of conspiracies, secrets of power, quest for dominion, subterfuge, love, life, and death. I found myself caught as it became apparent all the mysteries that were afoot were nothing more than chimera, imagined “realities” transformed into real—and unnecessary—cause and effects. Of course the trouble with secrets and the seat of power is they are the ruse of those who think there has to be more, and who want to feed themselves at the trough of importance.
In any case, I stayed the extra day, feeling that the wilderness night with its full moon and finishing the book and my ponderings would bring me some resolution with whatever I had been wrestling with. I could feel it.
And indeed, that is what happened—in the form of complete silence and stillness. Nothing. It was I who was busy wrestling and it was I who simply entered or not that silence and stillness, though there was no door or portal, no external guardian, no trick to it, no secret to uncover, no glorious arrival, no golden light, no mantel of dominion to assume.
I stayed up late that last night in the wilderness, under the full moon and in the stillness—stillness that can be the lifeblood of the wild-ness. And I could do nothing more than shake my head and grin—all repeatedly. What we chase in our quest for dominion and the seat of power, whether local or global, tends to creates much more havoc than peace. We have a stewardship rather than dominion and perhaps it is that stewardship that needs our attention, not chasing ephemeral brass rings.
I remembered a line from Puppet Song circa 1970 by The Incredible String Band and I grinned—and relaxed—even more:
“…all your so hard facts painted thinly on the void
why were you not more pleasantly employed…”