It’s a difficult time in which we’re living: political uncertainty, the virus, and for me, my cat who is wasting away yet still manages to leap up on to my bed and purr, ready for an all-night cuddle. I call it purrdling. I cuddle, she purrs.
Depression has been my life-long companion. Drugs don’t touch it. What has always helped me manage to keep going, to feel a little better, is being in the forest, hiking in mountains, preferably alone. I’m grateful that at 84 I’m still able to hike down a steep trail to a circle of stones made by the few hikers who pass by. It’s a large circle divided into four quadrants, lined with stones leading to the inner circle. It feels like a special place, with a mystical energy I cannot describe.
I hike with a talisman stone heart. Every time I hike it nestles in my left pocket, a source of comfort and security. This time, when I approach the circle, an inner voice says I need to put my talisman stone heart in the circle. I resist. I put heart stones I’ve found in the circle. My inner voice is relentless. I need to place my talisman stone heart on the center stones. Reluctantly, wondering why I am listening to a voice I don’t understand, I carefully, almost tearfully, place my talisman stone on top of the other heart stones I’ve put there. I stand quietly, allowing my heart to fill—with gratitude, love, hope—the wish that people would stop shouting and start talking, would listen intently, even to those whose ideas seem most egregious. When an inner voice says I am ready, I walk slowly around the circle. At each quarter I stop. I think about the world as it is, not caring that I am only one small, insignificant person among billions. I send compassion, lovingkindness, and the wish for peace and justice into the world.
I step back from the circle, taking in its wholeness. I appreciate the many people, unknown to me and perhaps each other, who have created this space in this place. It feels good that in order to reach it you have to hike up or down steep mountainsides.
As I turn away, ready to hike back up, I feel something inside me shift. I feel a little lighter. I feel a little more hopeful. I have done what I can do.