…and I am not Henry David Thoreau. But as he opined: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone,” I am practicing the art of simplifying my daily regimen.
I recently let alone weekend activities in Columbus and spent three days in the largest federally-designated wilderness area east of the Mississippi, the Cranberry Wilderness, in Webster & Pocahontas Counties, West Virginia. Why? Let me repeat Thoreau: “In wildness is the preservation of the world.“ These words might serve wide application. In my case, I sought refuge under a leafy canopy of beech, maple, birch and spruce, on the banks of the Middle Fork of the Williams River, which drains entirely within the boundaries of this 74-square mile refuge.
This was meant to be a weekend exile, a manner of: “It is never too late to give up your prejudices,” in my practice, to see my day differently from the prejudice of routine. Example…the rocks along the Williams, from house-size boulders to pebbles. Granite, hundreds of millions of years in this very valley. The Williams is a feeder stream to the Gauley, of whitewater rafting aclaim, which joins the New to form the Great Kanawha, a tributary of the Ohio. The waters cascading past my tent would arrive many hundreds of miles downstream into the same Gulf now coated with BP oil from the platform disaster that began this same week. To give up my prejudice I meditated on the rocks. It was not too late. To give up my prejudice I meditated under the April green-ness of rhododendron common in the Appalachian highlands but not flora that I walk under on my daily path to work.
It was not too late to marvel at the fern rising from the limestone outcropping, the rock cushioned with moss. The prejudice of my common Columbus noise was given up to the chatter of birds interrupting the constant current of clear water descending forty feet within the length of a city block. I never heard an owl call through the central-Ohio evening like the two relaying their message under blue spruce near the ridgetop. It certainly was not too late to be in awe of the bear tracks near my camp, and the scat…the bear DOES indeed do it in the woods!
Thoreau spent many months on the shore of Walden. I don’t require such asylum now. My work is among my family, my friends, my relationships in the city in the pursuit of my passion. Again… “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend,” as Henry had it.
As I hiked one of the numerous trails under miles of century-old hardwoods, I walked upon this haiku…
mid-morning breeze shakes
sparkling drops of rain off leaves
each a tiny sun