I woke this morning to what I have come to call an “Adirondack morning.”
The temperature was three-degrees. Six-inches of new snow had fallen lightly throughout the night. It was a light, dry snow; one that coated everything which it touched.
Outside, as I stood looking toward the east, I watched and waited for the sun to rise. At first the edge of the horizon was painted with dull reds and purples. As my anticipation rose, so did the sun. The colors began to change and now included orange and yellow; their intensity growing. The same colors painted the tips of the trees. As the sun continued its upward crawl the intensifying colors began to drip downward now coloring the length of those same trees. The crystals of snow covering nearby branches glistened like diamonds; the entire area now bathed in the warm glow of the rising sun.
Minutes later, as the sun continued its climb, as if on cue, clouds began to change the color of the sky from blue to grey. The warm colors receding as if they had been washed away like a gentle rain were now being replaced by a blanket of grey. As the clouds continued their growth, the diamonds on the surface of the snow began to lose its luster and now appeared to be just a blanket of white covering everything.
As time continued to pass, I returned to my duties of clearing the walk. The sound of my snow shovel scraping the ground the only other noise to be heard. As I rejoiced in the rhythmic sound made by the shovel, the silence was broken by the roar of a snow thrower coming to life. As that unwelcome sound increased, my desire to retreat back into my house also increased; needing to escape the previous tranquility.
As Thoreau has stated, “At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.”
I often struggle with my return from such beauty and solitude. This time was different. I needed to look at this decision and ask myself why. Was I no longer looking toward being in the Adirondack’s Were there other reasons?
There were in fact other reasons or at least one other reason. I have continued to grow and develop and no longer find it necessary to remain attached to the Adirondacks or to the thought, the fear of having to return to what can be the insanity of civilization.
I found this lack of fear frightening in and of itself. Much of the drive home caught me in deep, silent thought. I needed to find answers. When they came together I began to feel increasingly relaxed, more comfortable.
In the past I found myself feeling sad, lonely and full of fear. Today, much as Thoreau did those many years ago, I go confidently into this world.
I stopped in front of the sign which says “Entering Adirondack Park.” I grow quiet as the entrance to the park approaches. My thoughts turn to happy times spent in the solitude offered by the park.
Some do not understand my quiet. They also do not understand my desire, my need for the solitude of which I speak. It is not for them to understand. This is my gift and I will cherish it. This same gift is available to all who choose to acknowledge, to be mindful of its presence.
After a meal and a pot of coffee, I dressed and went for a walk. Several cars sped down the road, their tires kicking up clouds of salt dust. I waited several minutes and anticipated the silence that would follow the absence of cars. Then it arrived. Silence in this part of the world is overwhelming, almost deafening. My ears strained to hear something, yet there was no sound.
My thoughts turned to the violent world in which we live. Our ears are assaulted everyday by a multitude of sounds. Sounds we hear and take for granted everyday. I find it interesting to think about the number of sounds we hear everyday. It is difficult to think of a life without sound. It is equally difficult to try and imagine identifying each of those sounds.
Try it. If you don’t have the ability to get away from sound, turn off the tv, telephone and radio. Retreat to a room where you can be insulated from as much ambient sound as possible. It is an amazing, almost frightening sensation. Our thoughts begin to race and we become overwhelmed with fear because we are not accustomed to the sound of silence. Sit with this silence for a period of time. Be mindful of the way you begin to feel as you become increasingly relaxed.
If you listen to the silence, you will also allow yourself to accept the gift of solitude.
I drove down the street, my destination work. The car in front of me repeatedly depressed the brake pedal, brake lights flashing. I looked beyond that car and saw a school bus. The brake lights continued to flash. I watched as the same car repeatedly veered left toward the center line. I’ve seen this maneuver before. The driver appeared to be looking around the bus. Then it happened. I’m not sure why I’m stunned because I am the individual who waits for a second at green lights to allow those in a hurry to run the red light. The school bus tailgater passed the bus on a double yellow while it was stopped and had it’s flashing lights on. This is one of those times when I am happy to have a cell phone. The police did receive a call from me and hopefully this person received the ticket and admonition they deserve. These are the same individuals who careen carelessly through life on autopilot. Their only goal falls within their narrow range of vision.
I’m still not sure why the world is in such a hurry. When was the last time hurrying anywhere for anything actually got you ahead in life. Surely the additional stress you’re experiencing isn’t worth the effort.
What is it we’re afraid of? Why is it so difficult to get up a few minutes earlier in the morning, to go to bed a few minutes earlier? What is it we are afraid we will miss?
We have become deluded to believe things such as Facebook and Twitter are more important than spending time doing something constructive, like living our lives.
I am in the process of closing my photography business. The stress caused in my life by younger people who several months after their wedding have still not chosen the photos for their album complaining in a dramatic fashion, “I’m so busy!” I truly lack any level of understanding of such a statement. This, to me, is nothing more than a simple minded excuse. I’m being asked to tie up my income for an undetermined period of time because you’re “so busy!” I don’t want to close my business but my love for this art form is waning.
The excuses I hear throughout the day from tardy patients, lazy individuals who are “too busy” is simply frustrating. Closing my photo business is a good thing. I am not interested in the additional stress and excuses that others choose to use as the rules for which they live their life.
I refuse to change my life to bend to the whims of others for such ridiculousness. I will not drive faster because you are tailgating me. When you forward your photos for your wedding album several months after your wedding and the new wedding season has begun, I’ll get to your book when I have a chance. I would do it now, but “I’m so busy!”
These are the times when I think of my friend Thoreau and long to “simplify.” Closing my photo business is my first step in this process.
I will find myself in the Adirondack mountains in two weeks. I will relish the solitude; the silence and the peace offered by the winter landscape.
Today is the official first day of Fall. The weather the last couple of weeks told that story. Looking at a calendar was not necessary.
The breeze outside rustles the leaves which will shortly begin their transformation from the healthy green glow to vibrant red, green, yellow and gold. All of this in anticipation of their imminent death. For some, the move from summer to fall marks a time of sadness and often depression. The winter months in the Northeast are marked by snow and cold and the stark contrast of back and white. But there is beauty to be seen if one simply looks with an open mind.
There is a change in the temperature which has been noticeable the past couple of weeks. There is also a smell in the air which was absent during the hot months of summer.
Most noticeable during this wonderful time of year is the abbreviation of our day. It has not been shortened, but one’s perception as a result of the abbreviated daylight is that which makes this statement true. The amount of available daylight makes the day not only interesting but also hurried. We try to fit into the same shortened daylight hours what was once easy during the lengthy, dog days of summer.
Now is a time, an opportunity to stop and look around us. A time to use the days with their abbreviated daylight to reassess ourselves and our goals. Our pace slows, our stride shortened. Our breath also more deep as we drink in the cool air.
We have an opportunity at our fingertips; an opportunity that is available but only once every year. It is a time to adjust my pace; to slow down and reflect. An opportunity to be introspective. An opportunity to adjust and fine tune my goals. it is a gradual change which allows the body, soul and mind an opportunity to adapt. Depression used to accompany this time for me. Depression still knocks at the door and asks for admission. There are times when it is difficult to ward off these feelings but I will not allow it to be my companion. Instead I will continue to be a part of the outdoors. I will continue to enjoy what others have left for me in my own time; my own solitude.
The crunch of leaves and eventually snow will crunch beneath my feet and snowshoes as a smile will cross my face.