On being aware

It started snowing sometime in the night. Long enough for everything to be white–big, fluffy, wet flakes that stuck to tree trunks and branches. I was walking through the forest, and it was beautiful. My mind wandering all over the place, I came around the corner and stopped. Something had caught my eye and it took me a minute to realize what it was.

Why was the path bare?

I had been walking on snow until that point. It was still snowing, no sun warming anything. This is not a well-travelled path, I was likely the first one on it today. My mind puzzling over what could have cause the bare path, before I knew it I was barefoot and walking and it was glorious. Up this hill and around the corner, the snow was back, and back on were my shoes. I continued on my way, and as I walked I noticed the path–sometimes bare, sometimes snowy. But why?

Puzzling over the why–Why was the trail bare here, but not there? Why was the edge so clear, so distinct? Sometimes the bare trail seemed connected to the density of the overhead canopy, sometimes not. Does the uncompacted leaf litter of the forest floor prevent the snow from falling all the way to the ground where it would melt? Does the more compacted ground of the trail somehow hold more heat?

I walk this trail in all seasons, but this phenomenon is new to me, and it’s impossible to miss, now that I’ve noticed it.

The snow has revealed a layer of difference in the forest floor that I didn’t realize was so significant. And honestly, I may never have noticed except for how much my ability to be aware has developed through my work.

I think of movement in metaphors these days. And this one is just too perfect. There’s a path in the forest that I know is there. It’s sometimes easy to see, sometimes it’s hidden away under layers – of leaves, snow, new growth, fallen branches. Today, with the snow just right, and the temperature just right, and my mindset just right, that path appeared in a way I had never noticed. It was always there in that state, but the filter provided by the snow today allowed me to see it in a whole new way. New appreciation for the mysteries of nature, new awareness of the impact we have on our environment, the realization that even in monochrome landscape there are pockets of colour to discover.

I realized at some point in my walk that the process of being able to appreciate the mystery of the trail is one that I’ve been honing in my exploration of movement.

My work, with myself and with others, has been about figuring out the filter to apply to a movement to be able to see it in a whole new way. Sometimes the result is underwhelming, sometimes it’s notable, sometimes it’s worth writing about. It’s an idea so big that I can’t get it into words, how a finger’s motion can be so familiar and foreign, depending on the filter applied. How a neck can move the way it always has, or it can move in a vastly new way with the subtlest of filters. A new awareness, a new position, a new relationship with the neighbouring tissues, and what was familiar becomes novel.

Sometimes it’s easy to accept the observation without needing the explanation. Rarely, for me, though–I’m a “why” person. Always diving down the next rabbit hole, trying to figure out the “why”, and how applying that knowledge can serve me in my life and in working with others. I am genuinely puzzled by this trail though, so if you have any insight, please leave it in the comments–I’d love to hear your thoughts!!










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