As the world trembles

I haven’t written for a while. And even though I am really longing for it, the moment I sit myself down in front of a blank page, a feeling of immense tiredness overcomes me. I wanna play with words, but I am to tired to play. I wanna create beauty, but the grief is much more present (which can be beauty too, I am aware of that). So many things going on, so many roads to travel, so many books to read and write and yet it seems like I can’t find the starting line.

I want to plan hikes and I want to hike in the Sierra and in the desert and I want it to be summer already but there is no way to around winter, no way around surgery, the big dark monster slowly creeping up on me.

There are so many things I wanna do and start, yet this monster forces me to stop, to take a break in a phase of my life where I don’t really want to stand still, where I wanna create, bring my gift to the world and be of service. Of course I know this darkness is gonna inform me, is gonna be woven into my story, will become a part of my service. The beast will dance with the beauty and when I come out on the other side of the mountain I will carry a bit of gold in my small hands. But for now, to be honest, I am fucking scared. That’s how it is.

Quite some people have been telling me “fight the beast”, “you are tough”,  “don’t let the illness win.” And even though I appreciate the ‘cheering me on’ (I really do and I am really grateful for the people taking time to at least say something to let me know they care), ‘fighting and being tough’ is not the way I wanna move through this journey that lays ahead. In the past couple years I came to love my body, to respect it and take good care of it. I no way will I declare a war to my body, I am not gonna fight “it”. Yes, my body might have come to this world with quite a defect, but it has brought me this far. It has carried me through deserts, and canyons, and mountains and rivers and glaciers. Instead I can only speak of incredible gratitude and love towards my body and my life. It is only when you lose something, you took for granted (for instance your ability to walk, or to use your hands, to swallow, to speak, to laugh, to go to the bathroom,… Seriously they are all frikkin miracles), that you come to realize what an incredible gift your body is! And while I will lose my ability to walk unsupported for at least a while, I am aware of all the other amazing functions of my body that still work “just like that”. I am still so damn lucky.

And so when I move towards the monster and the monster towards me I will try to do it with gratitude, and I will try to do it with love (I’m afraid that’s gonna be much harder than “fighting it”), and with the knowledge that people born in other parts of the world who live with the same pain don’t get help the way I do. It makes me humble. It makes me lower my head and say thank you. It makes me aware of the luck I’ve been blessed with. So I’m gonna try to not fight this. No. I am gonna try to live through this with every cell in my body and in my soul, and my story will be written by both the beauty and the beast.

Now you may call me a fool (actually I don’t think you will) but over the past year I’ve been writing down my will, as well as how I would like to be remembered when I die, I’ve even written down how I’d like to be buried (or rather where my ashes would love to fly) and what songs I’d like on my death ceremony (this one is one of them! -Love you Robby!-). For if there’s one thing I learned, it is that life is fragile. For all I know you or I could die tomorrow. Now you might say “Don’t be all negative, we’re gonna live for a long long time.” And my answer will be “I hope so, but in fact you don’t know that.” There is something in the descent (and this definitely is one) and in the willingness to go down into the valley that makes one very aware of the vulnerability, that makes one face death in the light of life. It doesn’t make me depressed, not at all, it makes me very much alive, it makes me love life even more.

I’m not sure why I write about all this here, as it’s not about hiking, and yet it is. We are all thru-hikers in life, we are all going ‘round the wheel. And so I might not share much about cool hikes in the next couple months, but I hope I find the energy to share about my life, about my journey of “not walking” and learning to walk again, about my dance with the beauty and the beast, about the darkness and about the gold.

Let me end with a few words I wrote after the human world has been trembling quite a bit the last two weeks:

For now I’ll just go outside and watch the snow fall.
I’ll just stand here and let the snow give voice to the silence.

As the human world trembles Squirrel is in a concentrated hurry, storing her winter food.
As the human world trembles Robin pulls a giant worm out of the earth
and decides it is too big for him to eat.

As the human world trembles Worm crawls back into the earth.
As the human world trembles Water in the creek sings her love song to the bedrock.

As the human world trembles Wind whispers to the leaves “It is time to let go”.

The land is still here. Ever holding.
The trees are still standing. Rooting deep.
The fire is still burning. Warming hearts.
The rocks and the sun behind the clouds and the call of the cranes flying south are still cracking me open.

As the human world trembles the more-than-human world keeps turning.
She remembers me of what it means to be both human and more-than-human.
She reminds me there is no separation.

And while the snow keeps falling and the silence speaks of peace
I end my sacred pause.
My shaking breath draws ripples in the cold November air
and I know that when I move again
it will be for love,
it will be for compassion,
it will be for holding,
it will be for hope,
it will be for peace,
it will be for growing forests of good people,
it will be for hands and hearts coming together,
it will be for lighting fires, around which the new story can be told.

Oh the story is so much bigger!
Sending you all love and blessings. Please keep me in your prayers.

PS: I wrote the poem on the morning of November 9th, after waking up to the news of the elections. However for me it speaks for any kind of human world trembling ;c)


16 thoughts on “As the world trembles

  1. After I had an encounter with what could easily have been death I too took pause. It was an opportunity to reflect and prepare. I too wrote my will and other instructions for end of life. It was freeing. It takes courage to face our morality. Once done it breathes new life into living.

    I’ll continue to send hugs and positive thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Cat
    Loved your article, and the wonderful verses at the end. I sense your inner struggles, strengths, fear and dreams.

    You know, it is not so much the events which are spiritually debilitating, but the important thing is how we deal with them during and afterwards. Do we become better, stronger people. Do we make sure that good comes out of bad. I am sure that you will come out of this a lovelier, stronger, even better person.


    Arthur Hugh Clough

    Say not, the struggle naught availeth,
    The labour and the wounds are vain,
    . . . . .
    For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
    Seem here no painful inch to gain,
    Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
    Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

    And not by eastern windows only,
    When daylight comes, comes in the light,
    In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
    But westward, look, the land is bright.

    You are in my prayers

    Take care

    PS More in line with your own verses, here is one you may like
    Nan Shepherd’s poem on the Cairngorms, The Living Mountain, (Aberdeen University Press 1977), the poem called “Achiltibuie” and dates from 1950:-

    “here on the edge of Europe I stand on the edge of being,
    Floating on light, isle after isle takes wing,
    Burning blue are the peaks, rock that is older than thought,
    And the sea burns blue – or is it the air between? –
    They merge, they take one another upon them,
    I have fallen through time and found the enchanted
    Where all is beginning. The obstinate rocks
    Are a fire of blue, a pulse of power, a beat
    In energy, the sea dissolves,
    And I too melt, am timeless, a pulse of light.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this post. Whenever I travel through difficult times it brings to light of what’s important in my life. ( i.e. The love of family and friends, how I relate to people and the earth.) I also am reminded of the Navajo mantra “The Pollen Path”. There is something else that I have observed in these times……. The sharing of pain in life diminishes it, The sharing of love, expands the Beauty.

      Wishing you well in your journey and recovery.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Cat, I imagine how afraid I would be, and am sorry you have to go through that. But soon it will be a memory, and you will be on the road to recovery! I will keep you in my thoughts and am sending you well wishes and also feeling happy at the thought that you will enjoy life even more with the pain reduced or gone. Love Donna

    Liked by 1 person

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