Cleaning up in the Forest

I have often entered the woods carrying my burdens like a heavy backpack. The first part of my hike is spent thinking, pondering, stressing. Replaying problems or anticipating future roadblocks. Sometimes my thoughts are in a tangle, others they are firmly focused on the issue I am dealing with. 

Yet, as I step along, Anna trotting ahead of me, my worries begin to dissipate. Sometimes I have arrived at the solution, but many times my concerns are tread into the path, taken in by the trees. Like they turn carbon into oxygen, the leaves filter my thoughts until I am left with peace. 

I have brought some pretty serious problems with me into the forest, but I can’t remember one time that I left without feeling some relief, some belief that I will figure it out and things will be OK. At times, I am even given an epiphany.

The woods come with many gifts, but their ability to soothe, to take me in and change me, is one that I reverence always. I often say my thanks out loud to the trees: the best I can do to repay them for this free service.  

If you like my writing, you should check out my book: Tao of Thoreau

Milestone!

I’ve reached another milestone on my publishing journey!

Four-hundred books! (That felt good to write out.)

Strangely, I have to force myself to celebrate this accomplishment. Part of the problem is that my publishing dreams have been so huge since I was a child, that it is hard for any reality to measure up.

What I’ve been doing is imagining them stacked up in forty piles of ten. Picturing this gives a geometry, a mass to what it means to have this many books out in the public.

This has been followed by, I think, a better visualization: 400 people actually owning and reading my book. That was what the dream was always about, if I strip away fantasies of amazing stardom and best-selling status.

People reading my words. What I have always wanted. What I am finally achieving.

Need a copy? Buy yours here: Tao of Thoreau – just 2.99 Kindle and 4.99 paperback.

Waterfall in the Ruins

Two of my favorites: ruins and waterfalls. I’ve always loved ruins, whether they are colonial like this or ancient and magnificent like in Italy. There is an echo of the past, evidence of labor and construction, and the ghostlike essence of those who once lived and worked in a place that is now abandoned.

I wrote yesterday about the review I received about my book Tao of Thoreau. Here’s a little more from the review:

Voice and Writing Style: The author’s writing here is good, succinct, and sets forward his premise clearly, without fuss. He has produced a simple little volume in good form.  

I like this one because it reflects exactly what I was going for – succinct, clear and readable. I actually take it as a complement that the reviewer uses the word “simple”. A lot of my effort was taking deep and complicated ideas and presenting them in a readable format that is accessible to anyone.  And Thoreau did encourage us to simplify.

The Tao Te Ching was an excellent model. It’s a remarkable book, with transcendent ideas presented simply. Yet, upon reflection, the ideas are incredibly deep, universal and comprehensive. If my book reflects even a small part of this aspect, I was successful.  

This is what you shall do

I read Whitman’s poem last night. Really a worthwhile read.

This is what you shall do:
Love the earth and sun and the animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labors to others,
Hate tyrants, argue not concerning God,
Have patience and indulgence toward the people,
Take off your hat to nothing known or unknown,
Or to any man or number of men,
Go freely with powerful uneducated persons,
And with the young and with the mothers of families,
Read these leaves in the open air,
Every season of every year of your life,
Reexamine all you have been told,
At school at church or in any book,
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul,
And your very flesh shall be a great poem,
And have the richest fluency not only in its words,
But in the silent lines of its lips and face,
And between the lashes of your eyes,
And in every motion and joint of your body.

A New Year’s Message from a Dying Tree

This picture is emblematic of how Nature teaches lessons. This tree appears dead at first glance, but there is that one living branch, somehow surviving out of a bole that is in the process of decay. 

The more I’m in the woods, the more I see how closely intertwined death and decay are with growth and abundance. It’s relatively obvious that decay feeds life; moldering earth gives birth to abundant plants.  

But this picture offers something deeper: the stubbornness of growth, the overpowering will of life and creation even amidst its likely end. 

It is an appropriate lesson for a new year. Turned into a metaphor, perhaps that tree is a cherished dream long held that is beginning to slip away. But there is that one branch that still lives, if you focus your energy and passion on it.  

May you find your dreams and focus your will on what you want and need in 2023.