Today is my birthday. I decided to make it a quiet day so as to reflect and give myself some space. We’re having a spate of great weather here in Seattle, so it made sense to spend some of the day outside. I took a wonderful walk at a park that I enjoy. As I was walking, a thought ocurred to me: I want to understand the best pace for me to move at in my life. Paces, really.
I started to ask the trees, “Show me the best pace to move. On this walk. With my clients. With my wife. With myself.” I noticed myself slowing down. Feeling my body a bit more. I noticed the layers of leaves on the trail, and an overwhelming thought came over me: take off your shoes. Walk on this trail with your bare feet. You will feel the pace if you can feel the earth.
I’ll admit, I tried to talk myself out of this. If I slow down enough, it will be as if I took off my shoes. It’s fine, I don’t need to feel the earth to understand. I debated this for a few minutes when I came around the corner and saw the bush in the above photo. Suddenly I knew in my heart that I was looking at an entrance. It was an entrance into something that could only be experienced if I could feel the earth on my feet. A couple of people were approaching on the trail, so I gave htem a couple of minutes to pass. Once they were gone, I sat down, took off my shoes and socks, and felt the earth.
Standing on the path for a couple of minutes, feeling the solidity and moistness of the ground, I could feel myself softening to something more. To a larger connection to the world we operate in. I took a few breaths, and slowly walked through the arch formed by this bush. Through the entrance the forest had made for me. I walked the path for a few more minutes, loving the feeling of the soil on my feet. And then something said to me, go ahead, put your shoes back on.
I walked the rest of the trail in a deep reverence for the natural order of this world. It knows how to unfold. It knows what it needs. And if we listen, what we need.
The official time of my birth is 2:36pm PST. I went outside a few minutes ago, and put my bare feet into the grass so I would feel the earth at the exact moment I turned 47. It is a welcome feeling this feeling of wet dirt on skin. I think this way of listening is going to be central to this next year.
Let’s let the dirt help us find the pace.