I have not been in writing mode for a couple of weeks. A family illness intervened, and I was called to duty. The illness continues, but there is progress, and I am craving the simple act of putting pen to paper.
It will be pen on paper for the time being because while I stepped away, my computer decided to give up the ghost. It just went to sleep one night and never woke up. I sent it off to the computer hospital where a new mother board will be installed. I feel a bit untethered, and not in a good, liberating way.
So with little peace in the house and no comforting machine’s glow beckoning me to sit for a spell, with gorgeous fall weather and doctor’s orders to get out in it, I’ve spent my writing time in the woods of late. Each day we go for a hike. We’ve worked our way up from the flatlands and meadows to climbing the local hills and even a mountain a few towns away.
I’m a frequent walker, but hiking is different. You’re moving, but there is stillness, both inside you and in the woods around you. The moment I place a foot on the trail, I feel at ease. I am alert to the world around me, so different from my everyday world. I notice the reds and golds of changing leaves, the tapping of a woodpecker, the sharp, fresh smell of a field of ferns. My boots thud on the packed dirt; I watch for stones and roots and try to keep my pace. My breath gets louder as we climb toward the summit. With all my energy focused on scaling the boulders, I find a way to resolve a problem. On the descent, I let it all go and am content to simply be. The silence is deep yet speaks of ancient things. The breeze is soft and kind. The sun dances among the fallen trees. I am aware of gathering myself back to myself.
Many months ago, Carolyn asked me what I feel like when I’m writing. The question was so strange that I have been unable to answer it. Until now. Writing feels like hiking to me: a small and complete adventure, challenging, exhilarating, peaceful, grounded, whole.
Leah and Carolyn
Writing Exercise: Consider how you feel when you write. What is it about writing that brings you back to it when you’ve been away from it?