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Trail Mix

I spy a two-legged chugging toward me on the bridle trail along the railroad bed in full locomotive breath with no need of bridling. No fear anywhere as he approaches with the joy of running wild and free to be. Here, now with me, crossing paths on this path through the woods, I recognize the spirit body covered by the black skull cap and layers of jogging apparel. It’s a fellow old ugly man (oum) friend in full meditation mode on this horizontal track we call life. I utter his name as we pass, and alas, these men on missions put on the brakes, shake, embrace and face to face make it a sacred place.
We both grew up in Dedham and knew of each other peripherally through athletics. However, it was not until our mutual involvement in Martial Arts after High School that we enjoyed some martial training together and recreational basketball. Life got full with kids and careers, yet a curiosity was kept alive as we made note of these fellow fellows leading meaningful and purposeful professions.
Retirement, a Phd. Program coming to a ten year conclusion and a soon be completed book was his current news. Adventure endurance trail running and pride in his policing profession was professed by the prospective Professor. Satisfaction with a life fully lived and traveling the trail of transforming meaning and purpose were of import. And what was most clear to me was the clarity from which he clearly elucidated – “This is what clears my mind”. No surprise to me that a lifelong commitment to working hard, paying attention and benevolence with regular doses of nurturing through nature has neutralized the violence and allowed peace of mind to be present in this peace keeper. Sounds like a recipe ala Qigong meditation to me. Hmm, guess we are on the same path, from different directions – interesting that our chance crossing be a trail mix metaphor for our lives.
The old ugly men resume the chug after another warm man hug. I feel the fuel of fire inside, especially in the center and spine, as well as the glow that indicates the way to go. My mind, washed clean, travels through the feelings of our old railroad bed feeling like the town’s spine and potentially providing a pedestrian-plus path, from a vibrant center, with ribs connecting to vital points and appendages to the waters. Maybe Marshfield’s low impact paths would provide the template for our southerly towns to follow and pedestrians can potentially pedal the South Shore safely as well as to and around the Cape? While flying with the fantasy, I come quickly to ground and consider how crosswalks and signage are long overdue for safe pedestrian passage along our spinal path. Paths through the woods, when used often, are generally self-policing. However, “the great American roads belong to Buick”, so when the soft surface trails intersect with the hard, alerting distracted drivers definitely diminishes dangers.
On the way back, we pass each other again and offer an on the fly-by low five, touching down – kind of like a wise man way of signaling we have scored a touchdown in the end zone, or as I have named my gym, zazenzone. Zazenzone is a funky east-west way of referring to our indoor sacred space of learning at my school (akin to the original meaning of gymnasium and the Chinese training hall parallel, Wu Dao Quan). Indoor and outdoor spaces can catalyze the power of our human potential. Let’s provide those spaces and do the inner work.