descending an angry mountain, Rainier, jan 2009

this morning a downpour crested Squak and aimed itself at my windows plying apart the cedar in the front yard and throwing its remains at the house; I sat inside cozy between two warm animals with a steaming bowl of pu-erh tea. in this moment I was neither athlete nor disciple of the forest, I was lazy and didn't want to move. even when I finally rose to slip on my tights and wool and emerged onto the front porch shivering in a barely cold gust I had still not decided to go running on the hill. I went back into my foyer to warm up. going through the motions of preparing I doubted my resolve to meet the mountain with my heart broken and my body ready for lashings, teachings, and the pleasure this dark morning practice gives. 

again as so many acerbic mornings prior, I stripped off the extra layer in which I'd been puttering and started moving my legs with feet pointed toward the trailhead. at first there was only rejection: my arches tightened against cold mud, my shoulders pinched together bracing, my hands pulled my sleeves down over fingertips for warmth, and I danced only tentatively uphill. the widow-makers and rotten duff obscuring my path from last night's storm distracted me by demanding full engagement. I smelled deer's musk as I ran past my usual pausing point. after all that deliberation I soon found myself halfway up the mountain, the rain had stopped, and my muscles were beginning to move fluidly.

perhaps more important than how I stay motivated is why. why wake a handful of mornings every week in the autumn and winter dark in order to throw myself to the hills as a mess of sweat trying to shed myself of my worldly goods? why devote to a practice that claims every part of my life from what I consume to when I rest and eats my 'leisure time'? I wake and move because each time the forest swallows me I feel I've been reborn into dark salvation. when lassitude threatens to overtake me I beat it back with the promise of heaving lungs taking on the purest alpine air and steam rising off american ginseng. 

when I woke this morning, before bargaining with the storm and my tea, I watched the dougs dance from bed and knew I would run to move my spirit. I knew I needed to move in order to throw a little more of myself away. I had to go because it is urgent to be beneath my Bodhi trees.


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