Only the Mountain and I
It might seem glamorous to have traveled to Rome one week, and in the next week go to Banff. And it is? But also: bone wearying. Odds are, I will never be so glamorous again.
Even so, the mountains are beautiful. Who can tire of looking at the mountains?
This is my favourite mountain poem, which I probably quote every time we go to Banff, but still:
Alone Looking at the Mountain
by Li Po
All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other –
Only the mountain and I.
And now, after the gloriousness of the mountains, regular life resumes. This is fine, though.
“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (5.1)
Honestly, some days, I do think I was created to huddle under the blankets. But yes, there is work to do, as a human being.
There’s something good about feeling small in the mountains for a day or two.
It reminds me of the quotation by Alan Watts:
“We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples.’ Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”
– Alan Watts
We’re just like leaves, we’re like seedlings, planted in at times extraordinary circumstances.
It’s good to watch the lonely clouds whisper mysterious things to the mountains.
And to observe the grasses by the river and listen to their quiet song, too.
And then, it’s time to get out of bed, and get to work at being a decent human being, again. To persist in small acts, small kindnesses, and in being open.