I've recently been getting back into slack-lining. In case you don't know what slack-lining is it's basically tight-rope walking on a piece of tubular webbing drawn between two objects (trees, rocks, trucks, etc...). I started doing it back in college, my senior year to be exact, after being introduced to the balancing act by a rock-climbing friend of mine. After that first time I could stay up for more than two seconds I was hooked. I loved the meditative aspects of it. If your mind wandered just a little you lost balance and fell. You needed to concentrate on your entire being. Your mind had to envelop your body, and your body had to work at one with your mind in order to keep you perched on that thin-line. I also loved the fact that it was a reality that mirrored the thesis I was working on at the time (A topic for another post perhaps. But in short I argued that our qualitative identity is directly affected by our physical relationship with the world. In other words what we do physically directly affects how we perceive ourselves).
Anyhow, so I've gotten back into this old hobby of mine. Today I ventured to Runyon Canyon and did some slack-lining after work. After getting in my groove and feeling pretty zen-like I took a fall and noticed a small groundhog popping its head out of its home and snacking on a bit of grass. It was about a foot away from me, and completely unfazed. I stood there, motionless, just watching this small creature eat. I hadn't been to that park, but I was pretty sure that these animals don't just feel comfortable around anyone. I felt I had a stillness about me it sensed, and as a result it was not perturbed. A near-by couple scared the small creature away, and I continued my slack-lining. A few moments a loud couple of college students came into the park to throw the frisbee and discuss various deep thoughts such as , "Dude Humming birds are cool. They'd be cooler if they did more," or "Top ten ways insects have sex? I'd probably say Dragon Fly, Earthworm, Beetle..."
Needless to say I could tell my meditation was coming to an end. But regardless I decided I'd stay and go a few more rounds. As I walked on the thin red webbing I noticed my furry friend popped his head back out on my left, and to my right, another critter head made itself noticed. It was about this time the two frisbee tossers (and I am using British slag here as a pun) wondered out loud, "Dude, what are all these holes for? I think they must be here on purpose." I smiled to myself. I felt like I shared some animal secret.
When I was younger, high school/early college, being outside defined my being. It's really a shame I haven't been able to be more active outdoors, but I think I've learned so much from spending time outside, lessons that I've carried with me throughout my life. Being still and watching is definitely one of those lessons. You learn so much from just watching the nature of things. I know this is echoing a large part of my previous post on change, but I think it's an important point to be made. Had my noisy neighbors quieted themselves and observed perhaps they would have noticed the pattern of the holes and realized it was an animal who created them. Or notice the blur-like motion of the hummingbirds wings and appreciate its quickness.
In life we learn so much by observation. As cavemen we observed nature, and learned from it. It was a grand teacher who taught us how plants grow and where animals create their habitat. As babies we were silent observers, watching and learning from our parents. It's just too bad that as we've learned to speak a lot of us have forgotten how to listen.