With so many changes and new adventures in my life these days, a few ripples, well maybe waves, OK even unbridled storms, are bound to come along and throw everything a bit off kilter. Ripples like not knowing where to best direct my focus – aromatherapy homework, reading assignments for my therapeutic music classes, or researching and collecting data for my Arts in Education program. Waves like my husband being out of town for a few weeks thus putting me on temporary single parent duty. And storms like full on, four-year-old, day-long meltdowns… the kind that he recovers from by bedtime, but take me 24 hours to process and clear the smoke from my brain.
I feel like at least some of these challenges are the result of this wild modern life we lead. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty I love about 2016, like the fact that we just bought our first time ever brand new car: a Chevy Volt. I can plug it in for local driving and commuting and when the charge runs out after 50 miles or so it switches over to gas for road trips and such. Seriously, so cool. And I love that I don’t have to own a TV or pay a huge cable bill to be able to watch movies or shows I love. I can just stream them on my computer when I feel like I need a little entertainment fix. One thing I’m not so in love with about my modern life is that my extended family, once tight nit and all in one place, is now strewn throughout the country, even the world, as we all pursue our dreams, also known as our ordinary lives. We Skype, we Facebook, and we even talk on the phone like people used to do in the old days, but its not the same as having your tribe of loved ones within a short driving distance as you raise the next generation.
There are a few things I miss pretty consistently: family dinners with sisters and kiddos and dogs all around, chatting with my mom while we hang around and do nothing or everything, and hikes with my dad. I have my dad to thank for the beginning of an interest in hiking and the great outdoors. In Silicon Valley where I grew up, it didn’t take long to find nature 10 minutes up Magdalena Ave, in the golden hills of Los Altos and Cupertino. My mom always called them “marches” as I think she much preferred to take an easy stroll, but my dad usually had a mission: burn some calories, sweat a bit, and take in a view at the top. In high school, I think he had to drag me up there as I still hadn’t quite embraced a love for nature. I was too busy being cool or at least thinking that’s what I was up to. But college in Boulder, Colorado just cracked the roof off the sucker and I couldn’t get enough of the great outdoors: hiking, camping, skiing, biking. The Rocky Mountains blew my mind and before long it was me dragging Dad up to the top of a trail. It was up on top of a mountain that I stopped trying to be cool and started to wake up, quiet down, and notice all of the amazing things going on around me in nature. Ultimately nature has become a mirror for me to understand myself more and more with every experience.
Today when I was hiking the ledges trail with my husband who’s home for a few days in between trips, I had the notion that I was going to write about acceptance. Accepting where my kiddo is in his development as a human, accepting things about myself that either hold me back or can launch me forward, accepting that my wrist is killing me this week and maybe I shouldn’t be typing much or playing the piano. And all of these things are on my mind, but what came out when my fingers started typing was a bit of nostalgia for family and a simpler time. I guess that’s what nature draws out of me. A longing for peace, for flow, for ease and familiarity. In the quiet of the trees, or even in the chatter with my husband amongst those trees, I felt a release from my day to day existence, and a connection to happy memories in the wilderness. Sounds like a pretty good reason to go hiking every week. Can’t wait to do it again next time and see what comes up.
Hi, my name is Ali Dawson Gibson. I'm a healer, a singer and a teacher. This Blog, 52 Weeks of the Ledges, is from 2016 when I hiked this awesome Bristol Ledges trail once and week and shared my experiences. Enjoy!