To Dream a Life into Being #wonder #nature #being

The river beside the trail

Or perhaps I should say, “To walk a life into being.”

My husband and I spent the 4th in nature. It was the perfect way for us to express a reverence for what feels worthy, real, and based upon love. We brought the dogs along, which meant a perfect day for our canine companions as well.

Sitting on our front porch with a cup of tea dividing us, I scrolled through the “All Trails” app on my phone until I found one that just felt right. A new trail, to us, not too far away. And so, after breakfast was consumed, water bottles filled, and a couple of granola bars tucked in pockets, we set off in a race to the “minivan.”

We no longer have a minivan, but my husband and I love to shout out, “go straight to the minivan,” to incite the dogs and annoy the teenagers. The said teenagers, though, had their own plans for the day. Still, it brought a smile to our faces, and, naturally the dogs’ who could not have been happier. There’s nothing like a good car ride as long as the destination is not the vets.

With windows cranked to snout-level, we were off on our new adventure. The day perfect according to the weather. The high hovering around 80, the breeze just enough to keep most of the bugs away, and the sky as blue as our children’s eyes. We did miss them, but sometimes it’s nice to have that time to recall how you began.

And for us, it began 31 years ago. I’m going to take a slight pause to let that sink in…

We were at the place where our son is temporarily residing, the St. Paul’s School Advanced Studies Program. It was July 4th, 1991, and although I can’t tell you the exact details about the weather, I can recall in full-color the certain sundress I borrowed from a friend to impress a boy I had seen on the baseball field at recreation time. We met over bowls of ice cream, and the rest is our story.

So here we were, 31 years later, celebrating our story in the quiet way we knew best. Out in nature. We parked beside a wooden sign in front of a field of grasses, milkweed, and butterflies and suddenly I found myself falling in love, again. This land, not wholly ours, but from which we are all birthed, enfolding us like a mother who forgives even if she never forgets. And we, walking upon her, opened to love.

And wild wonder.

I was 48, 17, and 4. All ages wrapped up into one body, which is the way wonder finds us. Time slips past meaning and nothing else matters. The body’s bounds tangible, yet free. And the mind, that illusive organ without a physical structure, finds its tune and begins to sing of home. There it nothing better.

Life unties its binds in these moments and pure being erupts into the dream without the nightmare. As we walked that trail through the butterfly fields and into the woods beside a river, I began to dream of Life as it opened before us. The smile, spreading ever-wide upon my face. My body alive with the energy of being. And that vision that enfolded wider with each footstep, imprinted in full-color upon the canvas of my mind.

What a gift of a day.

Constructing Happiness

Fairytale Castle
A Fairytale Castle

It was only our second family trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth,” but before we stepped through the gates leading to Cinderella’s castle, the “magic” of Disney was fading.

Don’t worry, we had fun. Quite a bit of it actually, mixed in with the stress of crowds, the humid heat, and our search for a healthy meal. The waiting in long lines, sometimes never to get on a ride, was mostly shrugged off as an unfortunate side-effect of this popular place we were visiting.

Those of you who have been there will know that although Disney may strive hard to make its properties the “happiest” on Earth, there are moments of unhappiness experienced by its guests. Over-tired children dissolve into tears, while their over-heated and over-stressed parents try to weigh the probability of arriving at happiness before total melt-down occurs. Disney is a landscape of extremes. Turn one way and you will see joy, turn another and you will witness a face of frustration, or even fear amid a back-drop painted concrete. It’s a place of princess dreams coming true, but only for as long as you’re inside those magical Disney gates.

When I was a young girl, I dreamed of going to Disney, but I was a child of modest means. Disney is for the child who rarely wants for anything. Perhaps that is why I’ve brought my own children to Disney twice, to make up for what I felt I “lacked” as a child. Through my children’s delight, I am able to experience the wonder of Disney I missed when I was young, yet in this atmosphere of opulence, I can’t help feeling lack. Strip away the canned smiles and the concrete megaliths painted to look almost real, and what is left? The masses searching for happiness, including those not there by choice.

Caged Freedom
Caged Happiness

If you strip Disney down to energy, you can see how easily one can be left feeling every extreme in each moment. With little personal space, there is ample opportunity for energies to mix and mingle. Disney is not only haunted by the “living,” but also a popular retreat for the”dead” still searching for happiness. Take a ride through “It’s a Small World,” and you’ll feel what I’m talking about.

A Favorite Haunt
A Favorite Haunt

Not surprisingly for an empath, after my first trip to Disney I returned home completely ungrounded. I had temporarily lost my vital connection to the Earth after spending 5 days in the world of make-believe filled with the energies of thousands of souls.

We all were a bit more prepared for our second trip to Disney. I brought along my crystals and made use of AA Michael’s shield of protection, while my family and I let go of too much expectation. We chose to leave the crowds behind when we were all tired, even if it meant we only put in 5 hours of “fun” at a park. After all, there was always the pool.

The Grand Floridian Pool
The Grand Floridian Pool

The Disney resort pool, where every girl is a “princess” even when donning a tankini and racing (“Princess, no running please.”) her brother to the water-slide for the 5th time in an hour. The tired affect and notable lack of smile on the life-guards’ faces were hard not to miss, despite their kind words. One can’t help but think of those “cast members” who, each day or night, step out of their realities into the world of make-believe. Those thousands of employees whose job it is to make you believe you are living your dream in the “Happiest Place on Earth.” I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pretend for that long. And, what exactly is this dream of make-believe we’re all taking part in? Why do we keep coming back?

During my 6 days at Walt Disney World this December, I was constantly searching for anything “real.” To be more specific, my energy moved toward Nature in the most natural form I could find it. While my children swam in the turquoise water chlorinated crystal clear, my eyes strayed to the fairy-flight of katydids. When the insects happened to fly into the pool, I was over-come with delight at their misfortune. A rescued “fairy” meant the chance to hold the magic of life on my hand.

My Rescued Fairy
My Rescued Fairy

Nature, and the reality I could create around it, became my sanctuary for those 6 days. The snow-white egrets poised in patience over the lagoon made me almost forget I was yearning for a Narnian landscape at Christmastime.

Our favorite cast member
Our favorite cast member

I was not alone in my search for Nature’s sanctuary. My husband escaped by running along the lagoon, coming back happier than when he left, with tales of herons and the bald eagle flying over the golf-course. My children spent more time searching for lizards among the rocks and bushes, than they did for Mickey and Snow White.

A Favored Character
A Favored Character

We unanimously agreed to return to Animal Kingdom for our 5th, and final day of park-fun. Here, the Disney visitor can find Nature amid the concrete, even if She’s in a tamed state. Walking through the garden paths, and standing in the sanctuary of birds, the energy lifts and the light changes from artificial to real, and sometimes magic happens on its own.

Nature's Light
Nature’s Light