Whenever I can get back to nature – particularly anything that has to do with being in the mountains – I am struck by what a peaceful, restful sense, of uncaring timelessness there is about it. Nothing eternal, mind you – but timeless. One of the reasons mountains have always been one of the best places for meditation.
Can anyone sit in the cool breeze of a mountain ridge, already overwhelmed by the magnificent scenes that present themselves, and not be at the same time struck by the timeless nature of the very rock they’re sitting on? Barely able to apprehend the eons it took to get where it is – and the timeless nature of how it will no-doubt continue on, long after we are gone?
Most of us soon enough give way to a sense of needing to be doing something. Something to occupy and distract ourselves from this vaguely unsettling sense of timelessness. We are, after all, rooted in time – and this is our time – and shouldn’t we be doing something with it?
It’s why so many of us rarely go to the mountains – or anywhere else – without bringing the obligatory tools for adventure, and having fun. To distract ourselves, and break the almost magnetic hold that this sense of timelessness might otherwise exert over us.
Men characteristically like to hunt and fish. Women often take nature walks, run the camp – or simply set things up for planned picnics. We all like to play house – each in our own way. Men – as ruggedly self-sufficient hunter-providers – momentarily forgetting the need for vehicles, gas and tires, weapons and shells to live out this wonderful fantasy. Women, sometimes as rugged pioneer stock, unerringly able to provide a sense of home and hearth, wherever they might find themselves.
Back home, many of us attempt to recapture some sense of this timelessness, by playing house with God. What better than a God – or at least some semblance of one – who would seem to invite, if not require, a personal level of interaction, to touch on all the bases. Doesn’t get much better than that – or does it? Trading a personal sense of soul-soaked timelessness, for the all-too-human concerns and worry over some promised afterlife, we often give up actual meditation, for the more obsessive-compulsive demands of mere superstition.
Whether it’s prayer five times a day – while facing Mecca. Or hanging pictures of Jesus and other dead prophets on the wall – while paying out 10% to a surprising number of (we should not be surprised) purveyors of “tickets to the afterlife.” (All lined up and ready to take your money.) Just different kinds of religious – read superstitious – ritualism. And all introduced to ward off the effects of some ‘step on a crack – break your mother’s back’– type injunction or other. Holdovers from childhood, as it were.
It’s good to get back from the mountains, and still feel that wonderful sense of timelessness in my bones. And remember that I am not compelled by the cosmos to do one damned thing about it.