In the Mountains

My two most preferred intelligences, according to Howard Gardner’s model, are intrapersonal (self-reflective inner search) and naturalistic (appreciation and learning from natural forms). This means that when I want or need to think in creative ways, I like to look for wisdom both through my inner experiences and in places of outward natural beauty. This summer I have had more time than I have wanted to think creatively — business is down — and this has turned out to be a boon from the universe as it has encouraged me to go about my “thinking time” in a more deliberate way. In turn, the time to reflect has paid off in terms of new work, writing, and theory building. My six day-hikes since late June up to the Cascade Mountains, to a nearby island, and to Mt. Rainier have all been points of discovery and renewal.

It is curious to me that these walks define an entire season in just a few short weeks. Their arc is from the solitude of rain on black, leafless stems at a frozen lake to the feeling of already diminishing sunshine as autumn red creeps into vine maples. Two months ago and some, I was struck by the smell of the earth in a cold, drenched forest, but now, already and too soon, there is the heady fragrance of drying ferns amid the dust and waning heat. I began by thinking about destinations and the race to climb the mountains and ended, yesterday, at greater peace, simply washing my face in the cooling waters of Gem Lake, a fitting name. Along the way this summer, I learned to let my mind mull the challenges of my work like a stream I could barely hear far down under the stones of a rockslide, while more consciously I watched the morning fog and attended to the flowers, and felt the wind come on with power out of a glacial valley. I have enjoyed the light crossing in a day the entire face of the mountain.

There is no single insight that has come forward to me from walking the paths. But I have moved a distance from the force of my “deliberateness” to something else, something more intimate or gentle, closer to an “embrace.” As Rumi said, “What you seek is seeking you.” Sometimes not much seems to change from day to day, but like the shape of a cloud, it is always in motion and evolving. You just have to look twice to see it. If I had to try to contain the experience in some way, get to an essence or an answer, I’d have to say that the word, “surrender” has shown up as a great friend to me lately, a good companion on these solitary walks.

I am a lucky man.

These images are a small part of the treasure.



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  • Dan – I was struck most by the quote, “Sometimes not much seems to change from day to day, but like the shape of a cloud, it is always in motion and evolving.” That’s a beautiful way to describe your inner (and outer) experience. It sounds like you immersed yourself in taking in nature. Time will reveal what comes back out.

    Thanks for sharing the spectacular pictures – they are stunning!

  • This was a really wonderful gift — to be able to take this time; a day here and there across the course of the summer. It’s directly resulted in a number of things, some of them nameable, such as new models for my work, but of course the most important have no names at all.

    Thank you so much for stopping by, Deb!

  • Dan, you are a leader of leaders in this field!! Wow — imagine where we could go globally! Stay blessed dear friend!

  • Thank you, Ellen, for such inspiration! Many blessings to you too.

  • Beautiful Dan, just beautiful. Poetic, majestic, comforting and inspiring, all at once!

    Although I don’t suspect that Naturalistic is one of my talents, reading about your experience evokes in me a deep sense of awe for nature. Like you, the word “surrender”, in its most liberating sense, resonates throughout me as I soak in the imagery from your post.

    Great stuff! 🙂

  • Thank you, my friend!

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