For much of my life I agreed with Shakespeare that “all the world’s a stage,” a backdrop scene for life. Our house was built on the earth, and roads were the means to explore places near and far. For me, real life happened mostly indoors.
My language for natural activity included reading, writing, visiting with friends, planning, organizing, creating, and studying. Definitely not hiking or sports or camping. As a child I didn’t want to stop reading Gone with the Wind and get out of the car to see the Grand Canyon. I didn’t like to sweat. I didn’t like it to be hot…or cold. Living on the edge, pushing my limits, happened in the areas of thought, spirit and creativity, not on the side of a mountain.
One year into the writing of Big Topics at Midnight, I was still repeating my well-worn description of myself saying, “I like nature through a window.”
Needless to say, it was quite a surprise when I was clear that I was to return to the land of my North Carolina ancestors. Having no clue what to do once I was standing on that land (now owned by others), I asked Ann Linnea, a woman at home in the wild, what I should do once I got there.
Her answer was simple: “Don’t try to do anything. Just look around, find a tree, and lean back against her trunk. Listen with an open heart. Then you’ll know.”
I started leaning against trees in my neighborhood in preparation for the pilgrimage and haven’t stopped. Pausing for a few moments, back against the prickly bark, my body relaxes as I feel my deep connection to this earthly home with her wild and diverse nature.
In the last six years, I’ve regularly leaned against trees. Plants and animals, sun and rain, air and soil help me keep perspective that I am a woman of Earth as well as Spirit. Memories have returned about a favorite tree from almost every place I’ve lived—the Mimosa in Abilene, Texas; the Elm in Midland, Texas; the Blue Spruce in Klamath Falls, Oregon; the Tulip Magnolia outside my writing office. Obviously, I was more connected than I’d thought.
I can’t write a memoir for the Earth, but her story intertwines mine. I am deeply grateful to have wakened to the bigger perspective that nature on this third planet from our sun has offered me all of my life.
This is second in a series (following Getting Naked) about the diversity of the “memoirs” held within Big Topics at Midnight.