I want to get lost in the other worlds around us. I’m talking about the worlds we walk by and seldom see or hear. Our attention lately is frequently drawn to the larger picture–the health crisis we share with the rest of the world along with the political and financial upheaval. How can we find a way to go on vacation from the Big Picture?
What Other Worlds?
I was in Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in Wyoming a while back with some friends. They were ambitious and wanted to hike up a mountain. I wasn’t interested. So I found a rock on which to sit overlooking the Gorge. It was a sunny day and this was a gravely overlook. Siting on a rock looking over the gorge meant that there were no humans, cars, airplanes or anything else with a motor anywhere in sight. This was my first experience with other worlds.
Insect Worlds Around Us
The silence felt like my ears were relaxing. Nothing to pay attention to, or so I thought. As my body relaxed, I started to I enjoy the silence and the calm. Then, I began to hear a crunching sound. It sounded like someone walking over gravel. I waited and listened. No person or animal in sight. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. Then I didn’t see it. The movement was in rhythm with the crunching sound. I looked down and saw a team of unidentifiable insects walking across the sand in front of me. Was I really hearing the sound of insects walking?
While I was contemplating the walking insects, something flew past me. I was sure it was a large bird but no bird appeared. I began to hear the sound of something flying from a distance and listened as it came closer. Once again I realized it was an insect! Then, more insects buzzed by like airplanes on a recognizance mission.
What occurred to me was, that as I sat in this location that was completely devoid of the human noise, my body reorganized itself to be part of the world that is hidden by human sounds. I felt very privileged that I had this time to learn that there is so much more life around me. My ability to hear the insects helped me understand that we have layers of perception. Some layers are so loud they block out others. “Civilization” makes sentient beings that exist around us mostly out of our range of perception. When we allow these energy patterns into our awareness, we expand.
The Plant Worlds Around Us
My friend, Barbara Fotta, in one of focusing sessions, spoke about her walks through a cemetery in Pittsburgh as a place of calm. Here is her description of her experience.
I love wandering through cemetery parks. I have fond childhood memories of adventuring in the cemeteries near my house with my brother. Since then, I never fail to find refuge and solace there. The cemeteries feel sacred and quiet and weeping is allowed. Combine that with the natural wonder of trees and shrubs and a cloudy sky and I’m in heaven. There is something about seeing clouds that can shift my mood dramatically. They can take my breath away. And I am unquestionably a tree huger to the core! So living in Pittsburgh is a blessing because we have an abundance of both here.
What we Learn from Other Worlds
Nature shows us that it exists and keeps on functioning according to long established processes whether humans recognize it or not. Insects continue to be insects and can even take some time out of their busy day to check out a human sitting on a rock. It makes me think about how nature photographers find that the animals they photograph often come and crawl all over them.
It is known that cells of plants communicate with each other across species for each’s mutual benefit. These ecosystems surround us no matter if we live in a crowded city or the countryside. When the lock down started in Italy, Deni Tessarolo was limited to staying within 200 meters of her home in the small town of Marostica. She described how she spent time learning to appreciate her garden and how that relationship supported her. She wrote:
This time helped me to discover the expansive effects on my body that contemplating the beauty of the flowers initiated and how the act of looking at them filled me with wonder by opening a space of time where I could rest.
For Barbara walking through the cemetery…
The cemetery I walk in almost daily is atop a hill, full of trees and a panoramic view of the sky that has me turning in circles to admire all the sights. I feel cradled in its arms. It is where I first experienced a deep sense of the beauty of all things. Sometimes I try to capture what I see with my phone’s camera. I thought that then I could hold onto it in some way. Then the realization came that nothing of real value is ever lost. The essential matter is the capacity to see the beauty that is always here and everywhere whenever I’m willing to let go of my guardedness and open to it. I aspire to have my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds like a tree!
For me, sitting on the top of a gorge, I learned something that has stayed with me for life. My surroundings impact my perception in any given moment, as well as my willingness to notice, and the forces of energy around me. Many things obfuscate my ability to perceive the fullness of my experience. In any situation, I might ask myself “what is here that I do not perceive,” then I wait for it to show itself to me.
I invite everyone to reconnect to or to find their own personal otherworld vacation and share your stories with this blog. It will help us to remember that we are part something much larger than ourselves. We can also observe how these ecosystems communicate and mutually support each other. There are things we can learn from this–we are part of this system; and enjoy its benefits. We also have a responsibility to create mutually-beneficial environments for all sentient beings.