About Me

Pearl City, HI, United States

Monday, August 31, 2015

Loving the Enemy We Don't Want to Think About

From Wajahat Kazmi

Copyright © 2015
By Ralph F. Couey
Written content only,
except quoted and cited passages.

"You have heard that it was said
'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I say to you, love your enemies;
Bless those who curse you;
Do good to those that hate you,
And pray for those that spitefully use you
and persecute you."
--Jesus Christ

Over the past few weeks, I've been engaged in what is called a "Life Audit."  It has been an interesting journey, to say the least.  In this process, I've been confronted with questions that required a deep, introspective, and sometimes troubling exploration of the innermost parts of my attitudes and personality.  This is not an exercise for the faint of heart, or for those who lack courage.  An honest question requires an honest answer, even when that honesty is distinctly painful.

The list of questions posed required me to spend quite a bit of time poking into some of the darker places of my mind and heart, and that is difficult, for it required me to dredge up and face aspects of my heart that I would have been much more comfortable ignoring.

One of the things I found was that when I get angry, frustrated, or just grumpy my zone of awareness shrinks down to a small circle which more often than not is occupied only by me.  In that state, I am unable to acknowledge, or even see anything pleasant or positive.  I become very sensitive to those things that I already know will upset me even further.  The result of that being that I isolate myself away from others because I already know that in that state I am not pleasant company.

I was asked what, during the day, motivates me to be positive, and what I look forward to each day.  I was also asked what constituted a perfect day, and a perfect week.  I took this seriously, and in the deep contemplation of those questions, I found some things which I nicknamed my "inner uglies."

Once I dragged them out, it was very uncomfortable to look at them.  I had thought that those kinds of things were not a part of my makeup, but there they were, red-eyed and snarling, staring me down.  It was kind of like biting into a slice of bread and tasting mold.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hiking, Part 28

Copyright © 2015 
by Ralph F. Couey

We went back to a put-in from two weeks ago, mainly because the time restrictions from that day meant only a limited foray down that particular segment. We drove to the small parking area located at VA route 55 and route 725, about 40 minutes from home. We geared up and set out, finding the trail about 10 yards to the west of the parking area. It was a spectacular day. The overnight passage of a cold front left a sky of brilliant blue and an cooler atmosphere almost bereft of humidity. The forecast called for highs in the mid-80's but very comfortable.

We headed down the path to a small wetlands, helpfully bridged by a plank walkway. Once through the fen, we crossed a set of railroad tracks and began the first ascent. Now just because it was less humid didn't mean we wouldn't sweat. That first climb ascended some 650 feet in about a mile. The trail helpfully switchbacked, but it was still a daunting climb. About three-quarters of the way up, we entered a very rocky and bouldered area. It was here that I had mistakenly gone off-trail on the last visit, so today I paid close attention to the white blazes on the trees. The path zigged twice through this area, so rubbled that the trail, at least from the ground perspective, seemed to vanish.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Dumb Things We Do

Yep.  Dead.

Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey

Doesn't matter how smart one is.  Or how educated.  Or incisive.  Experience, wisdom, whatever else a person may have, it will never save us from that one stupid act.

Monday was a brutally hot and humid day here in Virginia.  The temperature was in the mid-90's and with the humidity, the heat index was into triple digits.  So after running a couple of errands, we decided to spend the balance of the afternoon in the neighborhood pool.  We changed, slathered on some sunscreen, gathered a couple necessary items, and headed out in high anticipation of cool waters.

Once there, I put on my reef walkers, remembered to take my ID wallet out of my pocket, and walked into the water.  It was, as anticipated, a glorious feeling.  After stretching my legs, I started swimming some slow laps.  My mind was happily empty of any worry or burden, and I had thus enjoyed myself for about 30 minutes and on one return lap, my vision fell on the table where we had placed our stuff.  Suddenly my brain went on high alert.  As I neared the wall, I reached for my waistband, and sure enough, my trustworthy, advanced, and very expensive Note 3 was hanging there.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Hiking, Part 27

Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey

"Come by the hills to the land where legend remains.
The stories of old fill the heart and may yet come again.
Where the past has been lost
And the future is still to be won,
And the cares of tomorrow can wait 
'till this day is done."
--W.Gordon Smith

We pass our days consumed by the pressures of commitment and requirement.  Our vision becomes restricted to the time between now and the next place we have to be.  Thus chained, the hours pass unnoticed; life goes by unheralded, until the moment when we stop, look around, and mourn the waste of the gift of time.

That was me.  I was trapped on that treadmill.  I watched the days slide by, frantic to lose them, but utterly unable to stop them from their inevitable fade.  But I found a way to pause time.  I found a place where clocks were irrelevant, where the very air carried the scent of serenity.

Last year, I took a walk in the woods.  It wasn't very far or ambitious, but I found that in that relatively short space of life, I was able to let go...and just be.

Virginia is full of such places, but my best days have been spent on parts of the Appalachian Trail that passes through this Commonwealth.  From Harper's Ferry in the north to Damascus in the south lies 550 miles of meandering trail lined with dense forest, bright meadows, imposing rocks, and wildlife.