The Elusive Path

It is all  so elusive,

even though we persist in  thinking  it will last.

The memory,

the toothless baby grin before it was replaced with a mustached teenage smile,

the tree before it lost its leaves,

the hair before it turned gray,

the voice while it was living,

the butterfly perched on a leaf just so

before it flies away.

As I run through the jungle, slipping and sliding on the mud, jumping in and out of rivers and streams,

I wish again that I had brought my camera along on the hash.

Luckily, we had an illustrator who has been working on a book.


Junie and I are actually  featured in this book,

crossing a very precarious bamboo bridge across a river along with many other unidentified hashers.

The illustrator really captured the experience quite accurately.

.

Once we make it across this particular bridge,

the run continues  and my thoughts begin to wander.

Blown away by the seemingly endless shades of green,

I am surfing as I slip and slide on a path

which was much muddier and more narrow than I had ever expected it to be.

We slogged through rivers and streams, and dug our fingers deep into the muddy banks

trying to get a hand-hold as we clamored up,

not caring about the colors our clothes or skin previously were,

whose hand is pulling us up from the mud or pushing us up a slippery incline.

This divine combination of camaraderie and complete solitude has always been a healing combination for me.

As I continue along through the trail,

I am back in King Philip High School, running around the little pond deep in the New England golden-orange autumn woods where we had our cross-country meets.

I am comforted by the sounds of footsteps and rhythmic breathing behind me,

and inspired by the progressively smaller shapes of people running ahead of me,

fading into the jungle.

Then we come to the peace lily forest.

Peace lilies as far as the eye could see.

Sheer bliss; no matter how muddy.

Mud surfing among the peace lilies is one of those

elusive memories I feel in the moment I will never forget,

even though I know the vultures of time will come so powerfully

to snatch  it right up,

leaving room for more memories to weave their web right into the next moment.

The hash day was followed by a morning hike to Point Gourde, up a not too steep hill through the jungle where we found a nice view of the ocean from the top.

 The path up proved to be much more interesting than the summit view, as it usually is.

Elias was enjoying his ever expanding new social circle, and sleeping in at a friends’ house, while Junie found some needed solace at home.  So on this particular Sunday,  it was girl’s morning out.

Nicole and I joined a co-worker and his daughter on this lovely little hike.  The girls did a great job keeping up, despite the intermittent rain.  There were so many interesting things along the way, they (mostly) didn’t notice how tired their legs were becoming.    There were vines that we thought might lead to a big castle in the sky….

And plants that “played dead” when you touched them,

And sprung back to life when they think you have left.

We were happy to be surrounded by such a tapestry  of green deep in

November.

But what made us giggle the most was the variety of butterflies we saw on this hike.

And talk about elusive.

At one point, a large blue morpho butterfly came authoritatively loping along the path with what I can only describe as  iridescent self-righteousness;

causing us all to get out of the way and let it pass.

When we tried to chase it with the camera, it was though it had never been there at all.

Some butterflies weren’t quite as shy,

and let us catch a glimpse of their magic.

When we got quiet enough to notice, we realized they were everywhere.

Flitting around in shades of yellow and ochre and orange and chartreuse and white and pink and blue and black and cadmium red,

Their gracefully silent dance celebrated the heart-stopping beauty of the fleeting moment

and mocked

 my attempts to immortalize them with my loud clunky Nikon.

Immersed in the palette of butterfly and leaf hues that put Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat into the beige category,

 my elusive thoughts drifted to the power we have when we give up the need to have more than this,

    this fleeting  moment that we own right now.

No one saves us but ourselves.  No one can and no one may.  We ourselves must walk the path.

-Buddha



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