I‘m attracted to comfort. There’s a magnetic pull towards comfort that’s so pervasive I’m hardly aware of its influence. What I’m discovering, however, is that my peak life experiences are never found squarely in comfort. They aren’t found in discomfort either. Rather, my peak experiences are found somewhere balanced on the edge. Peak experiences are those times that excite me and scare the heck out of me. It’s something I want to experience, but I’m anxious or scared – not sure I’m up to the challenge or discomfort. It’s usually something I’m excited about and boldly say, “Heck yes! I’m all in.” And then days or weeks later wonder, “What was I thinking? Why did I agree to this? Am I really going to do this?”
At sunset, there is a clarity of the air that transports me from the ordinary into the extraordinary. Warm light spills across the landscape, a web of spun gold that captures my heart. The liminal time between day and night hangs suspended in the gauzy light. In this magical space, we can find ourselves. We can feel our essence, pure and clear, free of the distortions of our daily living.
The first time I met Raven, up close and personal, was when I was a young woman working in the Rocky Mountains. I had often seen the birds floating on the wind, high above me or heard their calls, but I had never looked a Raven in the eye.
I came upon her as I was walking in a meadow. She was striding through the tall grass, just a few feet from me. I thought she might fly away or be frightened by my appearance, but no, she stood her ground and observed me. She had such strength and presence, in truth, I was the one who felt intimidated! This bird was huge! She came up to my knee and looked at me with such intensity; it was as though she could see right through me.
From that day on I felt a special connection with Raven. I read all about them and would watch for them. They are amazing creatures with a keen intelligence. They have many vocalizations and can problem solve and use tools. They build alliances with other species and will work together to achieve their goals. They are very family oriented and form strong pair bonds. Ravens are playful and love to fly as demonstrated by their aerial displays.
My reflections have uncovered a simple truth: To experience and feel appreciation, to show appreciation, to appreciate, requires the simple prerequisite of Mindfulness. And further, Appreciation is Power. Why don’t we experience the Powerfulness of Appreciation more often in our lives?
Before we value anything, the fact that we value anything at all, is because we have first seen it and registered its value. Take our appreciation of a great work of art, for example, a beautiful piece of jewellery or furniture, or a Ming Dynasty vase. And yet we also know the experience of walking through a magnificent museum, past artefacts and exhibitions of great beauty and history, and yet, perhaps in a glaze and a daze, maybe with two or three toddlers in tow. We haven’t seen a thing.
The forest has a wild abundance of life and possibility. It holds all emotions: peace and joy and fear. The unknown and the unknowable are here. There is an intersection of the visible and invisible. I see the trees and know that I am only encountering a small part of the Being that is the tree. When you look at the forest, the forest looks back at you. The woods teem with animals, yet they are elusive and hidden. I know that bears, cougars, and wolves all live in this realm. Although we do not encounter them face to face, we can sense them on the periphery of our vision, dancing in the shadows. The soul is like that, shy and elusive, camouflaged by our roles and responsibilities. The forest beckons hidden aspects of our Being to come forward, offering us a glimpse of an unrealized truth, opening our hearts to a new understanding of ourselves.
The reality of life is that there are so many things to do, choices to make, problems to solve. Add to that the endless shiny objects that entertain and pull at my attention. It’s easy to forget about the refuge, the calm and the simple delights of the present moment. It comes down to how much control I decide to exert over where I put my attention.