Backpacking in Lower Burro Creek (Part 1)

Day 1

I sit by Burro Creek, not yet in the proposed wilderness area, close enough to a road to attract those with a Jeep or Subaru. A family is nearby: an older man, his wife, and two young children. The man, who looks to be the grandfather of the young boy and girl, is wearing an NRA cap. So this is not yet undisturbed solitude, but his mere presence neither disturbs me nor deters me from exploring this place. I do begin to feel slightly disturbed when he throws rocks into the stream to entertain his grandkids. But soon they leave, and I am left alone.

Let even the rocks alone; let them be where they are. Leave the rocks alone that do not move on their own. Can we be unmovable like the rocks? Can we be fluid like the water moving over and around the rocks?

Soft like the water and hard like the rocks. My legs are hard from biking but my heart in this place cannot be anything but soft, as I listen to water flow over granite, the soft over the hard. I feel my heart overflowing, love flowing into me. It is the soft heart that spurs me on my journey and decides where home is, and the legs that harden to get me there.

And where do I need to get? Call it nowhere. Here I am. I want to get right in the middle of here. In the wild, no place alone is central because each place is a center connected to some circumference, is a place where we can experience solitude without being alone, or where we can be alone without feeling pain at our aloneness. In the wild, we can get to the core of our loneliness, we can find that the deeper we sink the less lonely we become. It is not so bad to be alone, though we are always forgetting this fact. “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude,” Thoreau writes. I write of solitude and I mean connection. I write of recreation and I mean re-creation. I write of going out and, like Muir, I mean coming home.

I listen to the water; I sit on the rock; there is no need for any other companions at this time. The great longing for connection, the yearnings for truth and beauty and power and love, are here fulfilled. I have always longed to be, and to be myself. Now, I be-long. I am. I am here.

Here, I am.

I let the creek take all my confusion. The creek takes it without being burdened by it. It takes it by not taking it too seriously. It takes it by giving me peace. Letting me be at peace. Let the water let me, let me be by the water. I let myself be. I let myself see.

I let myself go and am held.

We need to let ourselves go. We need to let go of the idea of ourselves as superior to what holds us. We need to go to the wild and behold its beauty. Let go and be held.

But I do not intend to speak for what we must do; I speak for I must do. I find I can speak most clearly in places where humans are awed into silence. I want to speak for that which does not speak through any language human beings can understand. I want to speak with the force of the rivers’ rapids, with the calm of a still-moving stream, with power and with stillness, with the same even-keeled equanimity of the clouds that drift above the creek, languid and fluid at this moment yet containing the power to bring storm. I want to speak like the body of water that connects and cannot be separate from the two banks, that answers all questions without words. I will speak with words until I have learned to speak without them, until I understand the language that no longer needs them.

I sit on a rock by the creek, close my eyes, and say a silent prayer, praying to understand the language of not needing, of being without needing to be otherwise.

I sit on a rock by the creek and try to exist with the rhythm of the water, to be part of its song. I try to listen for the sound beneath the sound. I don’t hear it; it doesn’t matter.

Only where people predominate do I need to listen for the sound beneath the sound. Here, where I am now, in the aliveness, where all things move and exist freely, there is no sound beneath the sound. The sound on the surface is enough. What I hear and see is more than enough. What I hear and see is the abundance of life at the end of the day.

I hear the water in the creek below me. I hear the chirping of crickets around me, filling the darkening sky with their bright song. I see the clouds above me moving to the west, towards the sun, now going down below the horizon.