I don’t have my real birthday posted on Facebook; instead, I have the date I started T. I do not, by any means, consider that my birthday. I am still very much a being who lives on the Capricorn-Aquarius Cusp of Mystery and Wonder. And one thing that causes me to wonder deeply, and mourn, is that I do not get a train of Happy Birthdays on Facebook because, the truth is, none of my friends know what day my birthday is unless a social media site tells them. To be fair, I only keep up with a few birthdays myself, and I send meaningless little happy birthday comments to everyone else.
What a sad place, and full of loneliness. And not the good kind, but the total isolation kind.
Below is my journal entry for my birthday this year. I’ll take this opportunity to welcome myself to the year twenty-eight, and remember how all those little revolutions around the sun eventually, when placed one after another, develop into the shape of an Earth lifetime. How grateful I am for all these little revolutions. May every year feel more revolutionary than the next.
Welcome to my birthday. I am 28 years old today, as of 4:53PM.
What the fuck. I can’t believe I am twenty-eight years old. I feel like life continues to, or at least time (but I feel as if life, too, slips by without me flowing along with it) goes on without me. This is not what I wanted for my life to look like at twenty-eight. I did not want to be working a part-time job not in my field, less than three dollars to my name (literally, although my bills for the month are paid), living in some basement apartment in Durham, NC. But here I am. Here I am. Here I am, and I am healthy, fed, clothed, employed and loved. That’s really great, actually, and I am grateful for all those things. I am also grateful for free rent, free last-chance food, a short commute, Duke Forest and Duke Gardens both less than a mile from the house, and a heavily wooded neighborhood and town. They haven’t cut all the trees down yet, praise God.
I went on a trail run today at Eno River State Park, about fifteen minutes north of here. (Did I mention how grateful I am for where I live?) The trail, and the run, were nothing short of magical. I ran the Buckquarter Creek trail to the western loop of the Holden Mill Trail. The Buckquarter Creek trail ran along the water until it met the loop, also ran along the creek on the second leg. When I crossed back over the small bridge that separates the two trails, and was walking back along Buckquarter Creek trail to the head, the forest began to morph in the fuzzy dusk light. I believe this hour to be the best for feeling magic all around you and, if you’re really paying attention, to maybe even catch a glimpse of something before it passes back behind the next tree.
I feel a deep sadness when I go to wash my feet after running
barefoot in the woods.
Ruddy smears of earthen madness collects
on the bottoms of my feet, staining
like sacred tattoos;
my Element, infused within the intricate memories of
creates, through these swirling paths
the map that will lead that one made from Earth
back to the Sacred Cradle from which they came.
While I am in the woods
each step is a prayer in rhythm,
every foot fall another syllable of my soul’s chanting;
The dirt itself, cold, smooth and compacted,
stretched tight like goat skin.
Its muted thuds arouse my sorcery,
my foot falls ever quickening until, at last
I fly, however lowly, over the ground:
at last, the goat makes it over the canyon
to drink from the water-bearer’s gourd.
With every pass of the soaped cloth I pray
that I am just rubbing the dirt in
until it passes into the safety of my soul,
buried deep in every cell
so that, when I join the woods for the last time
they will know it’s me.
God, how I love running. And how much more do I love running in the woods and on trails. I flew down the trail today, and felt like the forest was holding me while I tried my wings in the air. Nothing in my life right now, nor in recent years, has helped me to feel so alive. Alive and full of love. I feel love for that which operates beyond value judgments, for Nature does not play favorites. She would not spare me because I love to run in her woods, but I love her anyway, or maybe even because of that fact. I know where I am when I am in the woods. I thought to myself today that I wish God would come to me in a way that I am able to see, able to understand. I can’t remember if I thought that before or after my run, but I believe God showed up nonetheless. And I am not alone now, but in the presence of God, just by recalling this love I felt in the woods. I think I believe God is like the woods, like Nature: a Force that operates on a different level from value judgments (our daily ego level) and, therefore, attachments. In this way, God supports all life, and is all Life. Also, in this way, God is like the Tao, that cradles all things and nurtures all things, and of which everything is a spontaneous expression. It and God also who receives all things back into Themselves when they return. I believe when we meditate, this Nature-and-God-like state is what we look to embody, if only for ten minutes in the morning, half-asleep.