Do not follow where the path may lead.
Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Saturday. Time I turned off the computer and called the kids outside.
My bones are creaky, my assprint indented into the couch cushions, my wrist and elbow stiff from too many hours of tap-tap-tapping on the laptop, the kids restless from a week at school and a morning of video games.
Time for a nice long walk to stretch our legs and restore our souls.
White Clay Creek winds across the bottom of our road, and untended parkland connects from the perimeter of our property all the way down to the creek, where we can pick up park trails. Up here, though, there is no path. No one comes through this way.
We head down the hill, through the forest, trusting our instincts, taking turns leading, never going quite the same way twice.
I love that adventure lies so close to home, that this little patch of wilderness exists. That we only have to travel ten minutes on foot until we reach a place where we hear no cars, meet no people. Where we find snake skins hanging from trees. Where the ground smells earthy and clean and cool.
It makes this house- this ancient drafty house, with its stink bugs and carpenter ants and leaking pipes, its never-ending litany of “things to fix”- so totally worth every bit of effort.
To sit in the shade on a fine day
and look upon verdure
is the most perfect refreshment.
Eventually we reach the bottom and meet up with a bike trail, and other people out for a restorative walk. We’re always quick to greet each other– so unlike city streets, where I find people tend to avoid eye contact.
We go to the creek and then we do something that always, always makes me feel a million times better.
We skip stones.
There is something about this that immediately brings me back to childhood. I took piano lessons for years as a kid, and a creek ran by where we waited for the bus to return home. And while we waited, my dad and I would skip stones.
So I skip stones with my kids, in the hopes that one day this will serve as the same sort of immediate therapy. That when they feel frazzled, stressed, burnt out, they can go find some running water, some smooth stones with sand sticking to them. That the sound of stones hitting water- plink, plink, plunk– will remind them of cool, unhurried hikes with their mother. Of quiet, and of family in the wilderness.
And something within their souls will slot into place, and they will feel at peace.
I know it sounds silly; I know with great certainty that it’s something I need to do.
What do you do to hit “reset” when your body and soul are out of alignment?