Stillness

Aug 6, 2019

            Today the woods were still. Nothing stuck out to me quite like the stillness of it all. All around me the world was motionless—the wind wasn’t blowing around me, no leaves were dropping from the canopy, the birds weren’t flying above me. It was quiet—the river wasn’t babbling, the leaves weren’t rustling around in the trees, no bird or animal calls kept singing in my ears. Everything seemed at rest, undisturbed, perhaps even calm. The world seemed stagnant, lifeless, inert. 


❊ Lauren Nicole Geiser ❊

Life/Death

Chi Gong again. In touch with life energy.

As I finished and set in the woods, under the oak tree, the notion of death came alive. The human deaths in Lauren and Aaron’s families, the death of relationships in divorces we are experiencing and separations, and the death of plants in the woods. There are also the gun deaths, the car deaths, war deaths, starvation – but in their horror they too open up an avenue to life.

 Death can be so hard. But it is the portal to new life. I personally may have 10 to 20 years of life left, but death is coming closer and closer.  It is in the joy of death that provides space and energy for new life – that is the aspect of death that I want to be in touch with. I love being alive, I find being human such an amazing experience. Hopefully, my own death will provide this opportunity to a new generation.

Jim – August 6, 2019

Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is the death of humanity, but also the birth of the humane. The industrial revolution gave rise to many technological advancements as well as the rising economic status of the United States as a major producer and world power. With increasing production, we became a more utilitarian society that measured people, and even animals, on how hard they worked and how long. This meant that anyone and anything that couldn’t work as hard, wasn’t worth as much. Even though our economic systems didn’t place intrinsic value in workers, it’s interest in our instrumental value led to the acceptance of certain practices to allow us to work better. Not to discredit the hard work done by union leaders, but 8 hour work days, required breaks, and other practices would not have happened if the large corporations didn’t realize how much more work could be done if these were in place. Even work horses were given 4 to 5 hour work days, were made sure to be watered, fed, and taken care of properly (such as the use of straw hats for horses, as a means of protecting them from sunstroke) because this allowed for more work to be done. Even though utilitarianism has given birth to practices that are beneficial to workers, these same practices haven’t been applied to our use of land. Land is often valued based on how productive it could be. “How many buildings can be built?” “What will crop production be like?” “How many resources can be extracted?” These are all questions that are asked in regards to acreage, but we seldom hear: “What is the biodiversity like?” “How beautiful are the trees and the stream?” “How many people will get to enjoy the majesty of nature here?”. These questions allow nature to be valuable, solely because it is. Reliance on work or economic gain has allowed our society to become utilitarian in the worst way. We have worked hard to give rights back to animals and people, though the latter could still make some advancements, but the very land we rely on is still based on a soulless value system. Measuring our land by production rates is what is allowing us to run rivers dry and strip areas of life and resources. Perhaps a humane society or workers union for the very Earth itself is the next step towards becoming fully sustainable. Aaron Fletcher

Slugs

July 23, 2019

            This morning I traveled back to where I go most every morning and observed one of the little trees in the area. Three slugs caught my eye, gathered together like a little slug family. As I watched, the slugs would slowly move in undulating fashions, one up the tree, one down the tree, and one in seemingly no pattern at all. I focused on the one closest to my eye, examining the blue-gray coloring on his back and watching his little feelers bop around as he sensed his surroundings. As he moved around ever so slowly, he left a little goo track that would have gone unnoticed had I not been watching where it came from. I reached out and patted his back—I was curious to feel the squishiness of this little critter. I thought to myself, “What is more vulnerable than a slug?” Soft and impressionable bodies, incredibly slow moving, essentially no forms of defense or offense… 

            As I was watching this little slug, something tells me to look to my right. Perched on top of a hidden log is a white and gray cat observing me observe the slug. In that moment, I was in fact very vulnerable too. I was so focused on what I was doing—examining and thinking about this slug—that I had let my guard down. In a way I was soft and impressionable, incredibly slow moving, and without any forms of defense or offense. I was vulnerable, and had it not been just a stray cat, I very well could have been in danger. 

            A little humbled, I began to watch my slug again, relating to and respecting his vulnerability. Nothing is ever guaranteed… not safety or health or power or anything. In fact, yet another creature could have been silently watching this cat watch me watch the slug. No matter how strong or in control any one thing might seem, vulnerabilities always exist. Nothing is without fault; nothing is without weakness. We can all be strong and powerful but we can all also be vulnerable and exposed.


❊ Lauren Nicole Geiser ❊

QI GONG

July 23, 2019

Qi Gong.  A health “exercise”, similar to Ti Chi.  I received the practice from Judith Boice.  It seems appropriate to do it in the woods. It is a very centering exercise.  As I stood feet grounded to the ground, I was centering on the qi within and without. I was there surrounded by this amazing woods. The stream flowing, birds singing. Present to the moment.

Returning from this experience, the woods around me was very present.  The oak tree alive. Breathing the air around refreshing. The woods was present within and without me. I climbed to the east side of the tree, gently leaned against its trunk. Enjoyed the sun and light surrounding me. Enjoyed some moments. Then whistled.

The Power of Water

A starving stream is now full of the life-giving water that it craves. The ancient waters roar in the once dry bed, clearing the stagnancy that comes from drought. A show of power, the element that carved the valley we sit in reminding us that we are held at its mercy. The lord giveth, and he taketh away. We were given water, we had it and we asked it to stop. And then it stopped. It stopped, and it didn’t come back until now. A renewal of the earth, happy trees, happy flowers, happy birds, happy us. The cleansing has taken place, and now we can live once more. Unless the water we wanted back doesn’t stop this time. A promise was given not to destroy the world in water once more, but that promise was given by the Christian God, not Mother Nature. As we have been destroying her, she reminds us that the true power is in her hands. She created us, she created our world and has allowed us to explore the worlds beyond. Her creation is hers, and she can remove it as she pleases. Life is springing anew, and this should not be taken for granted.

Cycles

July 16, 2019

            Today in the woods, I spent most of my time trying not to throw up. This weekend I had to take some time off work to fight what felt like was some kind of flu. I spent all Saturday resting in bed and trying to deal with my symptoms, and eventually had to drive myself to Urgent Care later that night. Me, being dramatic and hung up on all the mosquito bites I’ve gotten this summer, was sure I had West Nile Virus. The doctor said as much as that I definitely had some virus, and so she helped me treat my symptoms.

            Anyways, despite me not feeling great this morning, the woods still had a way of shining through and showing its greatness. After a refreshing rainstorm last night, the creek was finally a river again, rushing through the forest floor, making itself known to everything around it by its sounds of movement and surging. It reminded me of my first week here at the ecovillage—what those days sounded, looked, and felt like. The first week I was here, I was also sick, that time with a  sinus infection… funny how some things work out.

            As I stood on my tree above the river, I watched a little spider spinning a web out in front of me. He was working from the outside in, creating a large circular web. He circled along the edge of the web like the hands of a clock, slowly inching closer and closer to the center.

            My time in the woods today has shown me that everything in life has cycles. We, as people, have cycles… sometimes we’re healthy but sometimes we’re ill… sometimes we’re happy but sometimes we’re sad. Even the earth, the big grand earth, has cycles… sometimes there’s dry spells but sometimes the rain won’t stop… sometimes it’s a bright and sunny day but sometimes its a darkly covered night. Even down to the littlest critters we have cycles… today the spider spun round and round along his web, showcasing the cyclic and never-ending movement of time.


❊ Lauren Nicole Geiser ❊

Melancholy

July 17, 2019

Not depression, I know that feeling.  It was melancholy. Lots of things going on in the ecovillage that are bothersome.  These floated through my mind for a little while.  I stopped, and thought, I need to listen. Reading the book, The Overstory” has reinforced my belief that there is an energy in the woods we don’t understand. So I stopped, leaned against the tree, with the sound of the water flowing below and listened. “Do what is important to you, what makes sense to you. This is the place to focus: the book and podcast on the ecovillage, Enright Ave., EGG, the Earth Elder group, the interns.  As well as your family that swirls gently around you.” And, as the energy of the woods soaked into me the melancholy went away. The day looked much brighter. And the sun popped out for a bit.

Walking Stick

July 2, 2019

Today I entered the woods with a purpose—to find and whittle away a new walking stick, as I had broken my previous stick last week. I walked to one of the fallen trees that was creating a bridge across the creek and sat down, pawing at branches and twigs jutting out at me from surrounding trees. I tried to find a new stick, one that was just as good as my other, but I wasn’t having very much luck. Slightly disappointed, I decided to take a new approach to my time in the woods. I threw away my plans for finding and creating a new walking stick, and decided to just experience the forest. I walked across the fallen log over the creek, and back again. Again, I walked across the log and back, several more times, enjoying the fleeting sense of adventure and risk as I scaled over the river with nothing holding me up, and feeling pride in my balance keeping me there.After, I laid on the log looking up at the leaves and the sky, listening to the creek babbling in the background. I decided to descend to the riverbed and rinse my feet in the cold water, and then I walked through the river back to where I started.

I ended up having a very pleasant day in the woods, but not because of something I planned to do or something I forced to happen. I simply felt what I wanted to do at that moment and then did it, enjoying being in the woods and enjoying living in the moment.

Lauren Nicole Geiser

QUIET

The woods this afternoon weren’t silent, but quiet.  It’s hot, it’s the early afternoon. A few birds chirping. The creek trickling. A very slight breeze moving leaves In the trees, but the grasses were almost totally still. Quiet. Being attuned to the quiet after working hard in the morning felt right. Sitting against the oak tree. Quiet.

There was one exception, the mosquitoes.  They were very active. Keeping them at bay did take some concentration that I would have rather given to the woods around me.  But, then again, they also were the woods around me. Not the most pleasant aspect of the woods, but of the woods. Maybe they kept my concentration on the woods more intent than on other days.  Even with them, it was quiet.

I Belong

June 25, 2019

            Today I walked to my little cove by the waterfall and hammock trees. Along the way there, I seemed to get caught in every single cobweb that was in the forest. I slid down a hill of mud and fell into the river, soaking what felt like my entire body. When I arrived at my destination, I sat and enjoyed the sights and sounds, smells and feels of the forest. It was a truly beautiful morning. I couldn’t however stop myself from itching my arms and legs that are seemingly covered in bug bites, from mosquitos to chiggers to wasps. I thought to myself how I really don’t belong here—that an entity that was meant to be in the forest would be evolutionarily advanced enough, or resilient enough, to not be bothered by cobwebs or wet socks or bug bites—that I was only kidding myself trying to be a part of the forest.

            But in reality, no life or entity is perfect. Everything has its strengths and everything has its flaws. Every being is a part in the continuous cycle of life and death, predator and prey. While I, for example, am prey to the mosquitos when they bite me, in a way I am predator to the spiders when I tear through their webs. Similarly, I may aid in pollination when I catch plant seeds on my body while moving around, yet I also may snap branches or pull leaves down along the way. Everything interacts in the forest, whether it be in a mutually beneficial or harmful or some other symbiotic relationship. I believe the fact that I am involved in this chain, even slightly, shows that I do belong and that I can have a space in this forest relationship as long as I respect it and respect myself. I may prey on some things while other things may prey on me, and it is okay as long as we share a mutual respect for each other and a mutual respect for life. 


Lauren Nicole Geiser

Balance

June 11, 2019

            Today I walked North until the path I was following ended. A little wooden bridge transgressed what was left of the river so I walked across it and found a relatively open area, clearly influenced by previous human interaction. There were several little teepees or leaning huts composed of small logs and sticks. It was a calming place—an area where I felt welcomed. A tree about 8 inches in diameter had fallen over and was propped up by another still standing tree, forming a kind of balance beam. I climbed up onto it and stood, looking throughout the forest as from a new perspective in the upper canopy. It felt freeing. I stood on only my right foot for a time, and then stood on only my left foot, seeing how I could balance. As I kept doing so, it got easier. I walked back and forth on the beam, trying not to rely on any support for balance. Again, as I kept doing so it got easier.

            Balance is something I have always struggled with—not so much in the physical sense but rather the personal and emotional sense. However, from my experience today I am inclined to think that the more I deliberately practice balance, the easier it will get.

            Throughout this summer I intend to return to this little area frequently to work on my balance, whether it be standing on one foot for minutes at a time or balancing my way across the tree with no support. However, I believe this will also help me to reflect on my personal and emotional landmarks throughout my life, and my daily encounters. Nothing gets better if you don’t work on it, so here is my chance to work on it.


Lauren Nicole Geiser