Summer 2017 “The Olympic Discovery Trail Issue”
The Living End column by Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith
THE JOY OF DISCOVERING
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
This beautiful passage from John Muir calls us out into the rich natural world around us here on the Olympic Peninsula. It reminds us to take the time to truly encounter life by taking regular pauses in the daily activities that fill our hours with things to do. The northern edge of this amazing landmass offers a perfect opportunity to experience the amazing variety of flora and fauna that grace this place. The Olympic Discovery Trail is a pathway of adventure for everyone to explore nature as they journey from the quaint Victorian streets of Port Townsend to the Pacific shoreline with its crashing waves and rugged beaches.
“Very seldom do you come upon a space . . . when you may stop and simply be. Or wonder who, after all, you are.”
(Ursula K. LeGuin)
To engage a life of discovery is to realize that it is the journey along the way rather than the destination that gives life meaning and purpose. It is those choices of wandering a road less traveled or walking side-by-side with kindred souls. Every day is full of opportunities to explore, experience and enhance our world if we’re willing. The same path can be walked daily for years and yet no two journeys will be the same in this constantly evolving place of nature. It’s not about where we go, but more how we choose to encounter it.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust)
Having a deeper awareness of the world around us helps us orient to our own inner North Star that will ever guide us through the world. The markers are often not what we expect, so keeping wonder in one’s heart is essential to the journey. It’s about noticing the little things rather than rushing past them. There’s a scene in The Horse Whisperer when Annie finally gets to the ranch of this soul master of horses after much searching and feeling lost. She tells him she had trouble finding it because there were no signs. He looks at her and says. “Oh, there were signs. They just weren’t written down.”
We too can have interesting and magical signposts along the paths of our travels. There are outer markers but there are also inner compass points to align our soul journey within and through the world with eyes of discovery. These assist us in keeping our feet on the path from the shore of our birth to the shore of our death. Here are four of those with which you can align your life:
L . . . LOVE
Ask yourself what do you really love? What makes your heart sing? Remember the relationships that most enliven your world . . . be they people, animals or flowers in your garden. Then take the time to consciously connect to and appreciate those things. Always head in the direction of love expressing to find the gentlest path.
I . . . INNER LIGHT Now seek what makes you uniquely you. What are your inner gifts and talents? When you were a child, what captivated your imagination? This is the reserve of your true power.. We get exhausted from trying to be everything to everyone. Walk in nature and remember that an oak tree acorn can’t become a rose bush when it grows up. Seek inner guidance so your feet will remain on a pathway of insight and inspiration.
V . . . VALUE
To decide which direction to move in and what obstacles to face, take time to remember what you truly value. Reflect on what really matters to you. Who and what are you dedicating your life energy to? At the end of your life as you look back at various crossroads, will you be happy with your choices? Align with how you want to live and you’ll end up where you want to be.
E . . . ENVIRONMENT
One of our essential soul decisions involved not only where we were born but also where we’ve chosen to live and grow our souls. Of all the places in the world you could be, where feels most like home and why? What environment brings out the best in you and inspires you to new possibilities? Place yourself in the soil where you grow best, remembering that a blue spruce planted in the desert will quickly perish. Take the time to let nature and life nourish you deeply.
Living consciously a life of discovery will bless you and all those you encounter . . . whether you’re walking the Olympic Discovery Trail or the greater path of your life. Take the journey with an willing soul, an open heart, a curious mind and an adventuresome body. That way when you reach the farthest shore, you’ll smile . . . having lived the words of this anonymous sage:
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming . . . WOW ~ What a ride!!!”