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This morning seemed so very normal and yet it would soon become a nexus around which my whole mental existence would pivot. It began as I walked through the woods behind my house early one March morning, wrapped warm in my abundance of winter garments. All the trees about me were still stripped of their green attire by the onslaught of winter. I decided to follow a meandering trail that wandered through the snow-dusted trees. This was always a favorite time of year for me, the quiet seemed to inspire me. A light breeze brought a hint of the upcoming spring. It was a gentle suggestion of a season that was still weeks away. The breeze faded as quickly as it came. Once again the forest was smothered in an unearthly quiet. It was as if spring was something that may or may not ever come.
Far down the path was something that drew my interest. This one grand old willow had burst forth with a celebration of green. I knew that this signaled the approaching end of winter. What love for the upcoming spring this tree must have. The other trees slumbered away with their slow deep dreams but this one shook off the effects of the season in pure anticipation of what was to come.
These surroundings inspired me to break loose of my own icy frame of mind. Thoughts of time and the sequence of events danced through my head. I played with these concepts that make up our perception of reality, each one a single piece of an infinite puzzle. I became almost dizzy with the onrush of such ideas as destiny, fate, and my place in the cosmos. Just then I glanced up to the very top of that grand old willow. I guess I was hoping he would share a small nugget of the wisdom he had witnessed through the years. I beheld a large white owl perched on a high branch, watching me as I watched him. Our eyes seem to lock for a second, and then he looked beyond me. Suddenly this one moment stopped. What twist of chance brought this symbol of wisdom and deep thought here to witness my own delving into unanswerable questions? As my eyes met those of this wonderful avian, I had feel a click, a sudden inspiration. Is there really such a thing as free will or is there a plan that leads us in locked step from cradle to grave? Are these options the only two possibilities or is it a more natural blend of fate and opportunity.
Within myself I had a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings that threatened to tear apart all of the old foundations of my world. Each little element of this experience added to my enlightenment. This moment was just a chance meeting in a unique setting but had the potential to be a life changing insight. Was this “enlightenment”? I felt that my perspective had changed from seeing the world through smoky filters to glazing down on reality from above.
I felt the potential, the opportunity of fate become actuality. And now at last I understood the willow. Awakening is too precious to delay. You must embrace life with all your heart. Don’t give a single day to winter without a fight. For all the hardships you fight, the reward is the pure, unadulterated joy of living. To surrender even a moment is a crime we commit against ourselves.