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Day 7: Seeing the Landscape

Building on yesterday’s theme, I stepped outside this cold winter morning with the conscious curiosity, “How do I see this moment as a nature spirit?”

As I made my way down the snow-packed and icy walkway to my Jeep, I was visually aware of the trees lining the landscape, both in front of me and on my peripherals. Instead of focusing just on the 12 degree air stinging my face and watering my eyes, I felt it as part of a larger scene.

Recognizing the broader perspective is central to the shamanic path. It was a nice reminder of something that I tend to do solely on vacation, or when feeling particularly good, or after having climbed a mountain and able to clearly see a wide vista. But why do I lose that perspective in my normal day-to-day?


Today was a reminder just how myopic I often am, quite notably when I engage with my phone. It’s such a strong habit to focus on what is right in front of me - this next step walking, or what the next item coming up on my phone’s feed - that I don’t look up and see what’s happening around me.


Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. -Ferris Bueller


I stayed conscious of that throughout the day when I walked around for lunch and drove home. When driving, I’m so often acutely focused on the immediate few yards ahead of and around my vehicle, that I forget to see where I really am. I suppose on one hand, that’s just being safe - knowing what’s going on around me as I steer a multi-ton vehicle at speed down the road. But to lose the bigger picture entirely is a tragedy.


As I drove down a suburban street, and then on about 100 miles of highway, I kept my vision zoomed out to encompass the trees lining the roads and the hills and mountains off on the horizon. I then felt not like I was driving on I-495, but rather that I was a citizen of the planet, and my Jeep was providing me an efficient way of moving through it. This also made it a much more enjoyable drive, as what was central in my awareness was not the monotonous and boredom-inducing 10-foot white lane markers lining the road, but rather an organic and endlessly changing flow of trees and hills.


I was also graced with a beautifully colored sky after the sun set. The colors seamlessly morphed from yellow to orange to pink and blue, settling into the darkness of night. As it grew darker it was, naturally, more difficult to keep my lens on the bigger picture I had focused on all day with the horizon blending into the darkness of night. I was forced back to paying attention to what was just in front of me, just as far as my headlights reached.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there about when in the darkness, focusing on what’s right in front of you and keeping on, and when in the light, knowing it’s a lot easier to see where you are and how you fit into things. And knowing that the landscape is still the same, even if you can't see it all. Probably layers of metaphor in there.






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