One Sweet World
Often, while other Winnipeggers are safely snuggled in their homes, avoiding winter, I will have piled on layers and layers of clothing and headed out into the cold air for a long walk along my favourite frozen river.
I describe going outside into bitter sub-zero temperatures as similar to diving into a cold lake. It can be difficult to make that jump, but once you’re in, provided you have dressed for outside (and not the inside of a car), you get used to it.
Ever since reading The Power of Now years ago, I have trained myself to accept the harsh cold and wind, by experiencing it fully with my body. I don’t need my mind to tell me the story of how cold it is. My body can feel it, and once the initial shock wears off, (about 60 seconds) I adjust and begin to feel warm.
The pace of my walking is usually determined by the outside temperature, and I am almost always burning up by the time I arrive back home. Occasionally, I get lost in the wonder of what is around me, and I fail to realize that I’m becoming cold, so I forget to turn around in time to stay toasty warm. I don’t mind. Acceptance is key here too, and accepting the discomfort makes it more than bearable.
The goal of these long solitary walks is simply to be with what is around me, and appreciate the wonder of all of nature despite the fact that I am only a few short kilometres away from our city’s downtown. It is hard not to feel grateful.
Sometimes, I am gifted with the opportunity to meet up with this winter’s deer. A Mum, and her two teenaged daughters. If it is unusually warm, I might spot a beaver or two taking a break from their hibernation to gnaw on sticks outside of their damn.
On other nights it is just me, the trees, the stars and crunchy snow beneath my feet.
I am walking on water.
And while I walk on water, the lyrics and melody of one of my favourite songs often plays itself on a loop in my head.
“One sweet world,
around this star is spinning.
One sweet world.
And in her breath I’m swimming.
And here I will rest in peace.”
Now, the temperature has risen and stayed just warm enough that the ice is rapidly receding and the river is on the rise. Within the next few days it will become a lake as it floods into the trees that line either side of it.
Then, as has happened every year since before we came, the waters will recede, the ground will dry up and what has been dormant all winter will wake up. All of the new life will turn what was a white winter-wonderland only weeks before into beautiful greens. I never stop being amazed by the whole process.
I have heard, though not seen, the first of the Scout Geese. The few that return from their warm winter vacation in Arizona to check out whether or not it is time for the rest of their flocks to come back home.
Each year, I wonder why they bother to come back at this time at all? The ground that is not still covered in snow is wet and muddy. Their nests will be under water for weeks to come.
Someone once suggested that they have to come back this early in the season because their visas have expired. This might explain why they’re always so cranky.
I also wonder how it is that they are able to let the rest of the flocks, far across the border know that it’s time to begin the long flight home? Phone, text, email? Somehow, they just know. Year after year, with Canada Goose perfect right timing, they know what to do.
This leaves me questioning how it is that we, with our so-called superior intellects lost our way. It’s as though we have collectively forgotten what feet, hearts, hands and minds are for. We have developed an ability to blind ourselves to the reality that this beautiful perfect Earth is the only home we have, and when we have stripped it of everything… there will be nothing.
My good friend Kerri Twigg of twigg.ca once wrote: “We are not likely to fight to save what we don’t appreciate.”
I guess that is a huge part of the problem. It might be the very problem itself.
The situation is not serious.
It is nothing less than critical so the time for baby-steps has long past. That said, I would beg of anyone reading this to make it a priority to stop, and be present with whatever nature you find around you. Even in the city, there are trees and birds, sun, sky and air. The concrete underneath your feet is nothing more than a thin covering for the real ground.
Maybe, if we all committed to this in each moment, we would begin to do the things that deep down we know we must so that this One Sweet World can thrive and support and nurture life as it always has, in such wonderful, perfect ways, forever and ever.
And on and on, into infinity.