What's That You're Standing On?

I recently came across this little piece of writing from a few years back about a rainy spring morning. This is what inspired the creation of The Adventures of Enu. Enjoy...

Normally when I venture out in nature I don’t wear any shoes. I really enjoy the feeling of the earth beneath my feet, the different textures and temperatures that usually go unnoticed make for a completely different walking experience. There is a connection to the earth that is missed with shoes, a connection that makes you acutely aware of every step you take.  It is also a wonderful feeling to allow your toes to be free, and it’s great for the development of the muscles of your feet and legs.

There is a place not far from where I live called San Dieguito Park that is one of my favorite walking destinations. It is a beautiful park filled with some of Southern California’s finest Coastal Sage Scrub and an amazing array of birds and animals that call it home. One spring morning I went out for nice little stroll through this particular park. It was an unusually windy morning, the clouds were gathering overhead, coming in from the west blowing across the sky with the cool ocean breeze.  There was something in the air thought brought with it a hint of excitement, could this be one of those rare Southern California days where we are surprised by some unforeseen showers?  I began to walk down my favorite trail through a shady grove of Scrub Oak along the north-facing slope of a gentle hill.  The path was covered with the small leathery leaves of the Oak trees and was cool on my feet. The sun was just beginning to touch the tops of the trees. I proceeded ever so slowly, feeling each step, enjoying the songs of the birds through the sound of the wind in the trees.  Everything around me was vibrant and alive with the swirling of wind, the sky and the trees teaming with life.  I spent a few minutes watching a pair of Hummingbirds celebrating the morning sun darting in and out of the old twisted limbs of the Scrub Oak.  What a life they lead.  One of the delicate little birds took rest on the slightest of branches just beside me. There was a moment of stillness and then he proceeded to belt out his song while flashing the brilliant feathers of ruby red around his throat, making known his position to all.  I felt a slight chill of a shadow rushing over me and looked up, to my delight the clouds were darkening and growing heavier overhead.  Just then with my face pointed up at the clouds the first tiny drops of rain began to fall all around.

I paused to embrace this turn of events and to notice the subtle changes beginning to take place. Louder and louder the rain began to fall, adding percussion to the harmony of the birds singing in the trees and the wind rustling through the leaves. Soon every surface began to shimmer with the gathering droplets of water reflecting the morning sun in an entirely different way.  The trunks of the trees now glistening began to look curiously alive, like limbs of a great animal. What a gift rain can be, so easy to take it for granted, but here in Southern California where it so seldom happens I have learned to appreciate each and every drop. I looked around in all directions taking everything in as the rain began to soak me through.  I glanced down at my feet and to my surprise the Earth beneath my feet suddenly seemed to be alive. I kneeled down to get a closer look, and placed my hands gently on the slippery surface of the soaked soil. I had the impression for the first time in my life that I was standing on the back of an enormous creature that was surely alive.  It felt like I was riding a magnificent whale.  I closed my eyes tight thinking that the sensation would fade but as I opened them I only felt this more deeply. I slowly stood up and realized like never before just how precious our earth is. I began to walk ever so carefully, taking each footstep with the highest respect.  I sensed it down to my core, what an honor to be connected to this big animal that sustains us all.

I continued my walk along the trail with a complete sense of awe, seeing everything as if for the first time, now as an intimately connected part of this big creature we call Earth. Nothing seemed to be separate from anything else. I kneeled down at the base of a magnificent eucalyptus tree at a place where some of its roots were exposed.  I wondered, where did the tree and the earth begin? I stood and gazed up to the top of the tree feeling so thankful for the leaves that give out oxygen for us to breathe. Since the plants and the trees are connected to the air then where does the tree end and the sky begin? I spent all morning absolutely soaked but happy as can be, exploring and observing just how amazing life on earth truly is.  What a miracle just to be alive!

Since that rainy spring morning I have walked with a deep respect for what is.  If we only take a moment to remind ourselves we can see that this planet is truly a living organism. Whatever we are doing, playing, sitting, walking, and swimming we are doing so on something that is alive. Everything that grows out of it is an extension of it, even the atmosphere and the air that we breathe. The plants, trees, birds, and the bees, and of course we humans are not separate.  Just as we are not separate from the earth, we are not separate from each other.  We are one big family.

So, the next time you go out walking remember you are doing so on a very big, very special animal. You do not need to take off your shoes (although this makes it is a little easier). Pay attention to each step and imagine that you are massaging the back of this magnificent animal. Many of us live in cities where much of the earth that we walk on is covered in concrete, which is probably the reason we sometimes forget it is alive.  Remember the earth is still very much alive just underneath, and the concrete was made from different elements of the earth, in that way it is also an extension of it. Even buildings can be looked at with respect as a part of the big animal.  When we remember to walk in this way, we can be at ease because we know that we are never alone. The animals, birds, trees, plants, bees, the buildings, and especially the people, are all connected in one big family, thanks to our mother earth.

 Illustration by Blaze Syka

Illustration by Blaze Syka