Sunday, June 09, 2013

Lost in the forest


I've not been blogging a lot lately because of extreme business, both with work and with other activities.  

But yesterday something interesting happened, and it's worth, um, noting.

I was going running; lately the weather in the Pacific Northwest has been spectacularly good, which is somewhat odd for this time of year.  It seems summer has come early, and I'm making the most of it.  

As is my habit when I go running, I run outside on trails not far from my home. Yesterday, I chose one in Lacamas Lake Park, whose "map" is pictured above.  Note that the trails' signage isn't well laid out.

I got lost.

It's only a couple of miles or so on each side, but after running 40 minutes, about 3.5 miles, well, you can imagine how I viewed the prospect of another 2-3 miles of walking before I found my car.  I was not happy with the signage, to illustrate dishonestly how I deal with frustration sometimes. And all the Middle European folktales came to mind.  Hansel and Gretel. Ah! So that's why they have these tales,  I thought; it's a bit unnerving to be lost in the forest, and if it's a big one you could get dead.  And in fact every year in the Pacific Northwest it happens to at least one or two people.

And after a while, with my legs aching, I realized there was nothing I could do except continue on to try to get out; asking people I saw for the right path out (who said, not particularly helpfully, "There's signs.")  So I kept trying, and luckily had a practice that I kept as I kept trying.

And I realized it was a metaphor for life; we're all lost in the forest, and trying to get out, and there's nothing we can do but keep trying.  We don't want to be there, and it's not entirely "our" fault, but  we're there and we have an honest to goodness plight.  We all have a plight. And the signage may or may not be reliable. Even when it says "YOU ARE HERE" you may still not be where you think you are, and may not know where you're going.  But you've got to keep on the path.

I don't know if there's a koan about this but there really ought to be.  Sometimes it's amazing how existence just has these nice scenarios laid out so you can assign a metaphor to it related to practice, you know? They're there so you can remember to practice.

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