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Meeting the Moment

Did you know that chipmunks chirp?


I used to think that the repeated, "cheep, cheep, cheep" I have heard so often on the trail was birdsong. Then, while hiking with friends in Acadia a few years ago, we came across a chipmunk in the woods, it's fluffy tail aggressively flicking in time with its rhythmic chirp. We stood there for a while, watching with fascination as that little guy engaged in whole-body chirping, before continuing our journey.


Acadia is a special place. Hiking up mountains while surrounded by crashing ocean waves is an incredible experience, but that is a story for a different day.


Today as I wander, I recognize the chirp of a chipmunk as it mixes with the sound of crunching leaves underfoot. Yet even his insistent song doesn't truly pierce the stillness. It is a grey day in the hills and no breeze rustles the autumn leaves. The air is still and heavy with moisture.


My last visit was full of sparkling afternoon sun which set the autumn leaves on fire. It was a day for carefree skipping in crisp, cool air, under bright blue skies.


But this beloved, familiar trail is quite different today. The hills are full of emotion, as if holding back tears. It is a day for slow, measured steps, for breathing in the sweet, pungent, earthy smell of fall and settling into the deep stillness of a melancholy beauty.


I breathe slowly, deeply and I walk even more slowly, allowing my energy to sync with the heavy silence of the woods. I walk for hours, feeling unanticipated emotion welling from within me, stretching to meet the emotion which fills the air, embraces the rocks and hangs off the trees.


For a moment I believe that I am sad, but it is not true. I am feeling deep emotion and it is not the light, energetic feeling typically associated with positive feelings. Yet after letting go of the label "sadness", I am left with a feeling of depth which loses its meaning when put into words. It flows around me and through me as I walk, leaving me quiet and still like my surroundings.


On days like this, I am reminded of the magic that comes with meeting the moment without labels or judgement, without wanting it to be anything other than what it is.

It was a hauntingly beautiful day.

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