Remembering to Be

I went for a hike yesterday at a local park. Although situated within the city of Austin, the trail winds through land that feels remote. The path is shady, and it winds over a creek in numerous places. The occasional breeze ruffled my hair as I wandered over sun-dappled ground. Because it’s located near water, the trail featured a variety of vegatation, including moss, ferns, and water-loving Cedar Elms and Sycamores. There were also Texas Mountain Laurels, Twisted Yucca and Agarita.

While hiking, I became absorbed in the task of locomotion and would forget to see my surroundings. Now and again I would remember to bring myself back to the world, to pause and notice the colors, textures, and smells around me. At one point there was a pool of trickling water nestled by the hill. Dozens of yellow-jackets were convened on rock by the water’s edge. It was fascinating to watch them. I could only assume they were attracted to the water; I’d not seen a convention of bees before!

Even in Texas, there’s a scent in the air that suggests autumn. Although the temperatures continue to climb into the upper 80s, the light is softer, the glare less intense. The scent of autumn lingers — clearer air, a whiff of spice and musk that exudes from decaying leaves. The other night as I took a walk around the block in my neighborhood, I heard and owl. I was delighted. I stood still, with my ear cocked skyward, and every few minutes I was rewarded with a melancholy “Who-who-WHO.” Living in suburbia, one does not encounter much wildlife, and there was something redeeming about hearing this owl, knowing that it chose to rest (perhaps live) in a tree in someone’s back yard. Perhaps we have not crowded out all other creatures.

It is these experiences for which I live. It is the simple pleasure of experiencing life, discovering the grand beauty in the small and ordinary, of learning to see magnificence in the details as well as the expanse — learning to pay attention more often to what’s outside my head.

Explore posts in the same categories: Humanities, Journal, Miscellaney, Social Science

3 Comments on “Remembering to Be”

  1. Addlepated Says:

    At our previous house in NW Austin, we used to sit on the back deck and hear coyotes howling at night. Coyotes! At our house now, we have an owl who lives in the neighbor’s yard who calls once it gets dark. They make a beautiful sound, don’t they?

  2. Colleen Says:

    I understand being in your head to much. I do the same thing when I am walking. It’s when I notice that I am walking with my eyes focused on the ground that I realize I am not connected to what is around me. If my head is down I am looking inward. If my head is up I am looking outward.

  3. Kathryn Says:

    I imagine the coyotes have been pushed further out — I live NW, and haven’t ever heard them. But I’d love to!

    As for walking, it really takes continuous effort to pull my head up and look around me. I slip into thought frequently and focus on the ground. Not that this is wrong; sometimes I need to walk and think to work out a problem. But it’s a habit I’m way too accustomed to doing. I do feel some progress, in that I no longer use a walkman. I did for years, until I realized the paradox of being out in the world and using music as a barrier to it.