It’s funny how time away, especially time spent in the great out of doors, surrounded by wilderness and wildness, can really change your priorities.
I’ve just spent a week away in Norway, cross-country skiing amidst silent snow-filled woods and frozen fells, hearing the voices of the giants and the trolls in the howling wind, the beauty of the gods and goddesses in the winter landscape that sings to my soul. It made me realise how much time I have spent inside this winter, enjoying the comforts of my new-ish home. I needed to get out. I needed to kick free, like a horse that’s been kept too long in its stall.
I spent waaaay too much time on Facebook in the weeks leading up to this holiday. It’s a very easy thing to do. Wanting to keep up with friends, seeing what is happening in the wider world – addictive to the core. But it’s a way of keeping up with the world without being a part of it – it’s a passive role as opposed to an active role. Keeping to the indoors after sharing my body with a virus, I became very passive indeed.
In the midst of a swirling snowstorm on the high fells above Lillehammer, shattered after many, many kilometres of skiing, still recovering from a cold yet mustering the energy to get back to the apartment, knowing that no one was going to get me back but my very own self – it changes everything. That is why I love cross-country skiing so much. It is you and the wilderness. If anything happens, goes wrong – if the weather changes suddenly, or you break a ski or a pole, it is up to you to sort it out and get yourself back home safely. Of course, it’s always a good idea to ski with at least one other person – and I had my husband. Yet still, out there with the light failing and the snow stinging in my face as we turned for those last two kilometres through the storm, falling over as legs give way to exhaustion and getting back up again, nose running and eyes watering – you know you are alive.
That’s a reminder that we all need more often than not.
It’s a reminder that insidiously slips away in the comfort of our modern homes and our modern lives.
Like Druidry, like Zen, like life – it’s easy to read about it. The secret is doing it. You will never get fulfilment from reading or hearing about things. It’s all in the doing. Druidry teaches us about connection and relationship, of the wonder of life itself and the spirit of life that hums within all things. Zen teaches us to wake up to the wonder, again and again, every single day, every single minute. I intend to spend much more time outside, studying and learning from the world around me, not letting the temptations of social networking or passive screen entertainment to seduce me into a less than active role. It was a lesson well-learned, and I am thankful for it.