This never leaves my day pack

The Ultimate Day Hike Accessory. A must for the day pack.

Can you guess what it is?

I call it a butt pad and I purchased one this Summer. Now, it never leaves my day pack.

You can buy one here:

https://www.rei.com/search?q=thermarest+sit+pad

Or create your own from an old ridge rest pad.

Comes in super handy for snack time, wildlife listening time, writing time, being time.

The backstory:

In my ongoing effort to reduce the perfectionist sides of my personality, I find my butt pad to be a useful tool.

.

For years, decades, my trained athletic mind and body could only focus on the task and completion. Goal setting and completion. Then I realized that this goal setting/completion cycle never really brought me the ongoing, long term sense of inner joy and contentment that I was seeking. The goal setting completion cycle brought me a brief hit of adrenaline and excitement (mission accomplished) and then quickly faded into the next goal to set and complete. CHECK.

I had to actually start stopping and noticing. I had to realize that focusing on numbers would get me short rewards, not long term rewards. Running 10 miles. check. Swimming 2 miles. check. Climbing 5’11’’ check. long alpine approaches, surviving intense weather conditions. check. I could DO it but was it worth it? Was I happier?

Yes, in many ways I was happier. I kept proving to myself that I could do it. I could push through. I could hang with the dudes. I could complete it. Qualities that I value like perseverance and fortitude developed. Qualities that have come in handy in other areas of my work and personal life.

I could DO it.

But could I BE it? Could I BE in it? Could I BE HERE NOW. Could I BE still and still enjoy.

What if I sat still in the woods and was present?

What if I sat and listened to the trees, the breeze, and wildlife sounds?

Which animal would make the first sound once I silenced my footsteps?

Which animal would be second?

Where is the sun, the light?

What grows predictably in the light: fungi or flowers?

What does it smell like?

Earth, trees, damp, dusty, musty, free, fresh, oxygenated, warm, burnt and buttercup-like?

Do I see the decay?

Do I see the life forming from the decay?

Can I BE here?

Can I BE HERE NOW?

Expand here and breathe.

Can I appreciate being here?

ME Being here? My being?

Stillness.

Silence.

okay, I digress, back to the butt pad.

The butt pad has helped me slow down, sip in the life of the forest and the moment. While yes, I still like to climb, go 10 miles and  pump my heart, I no longer feel like that’s all there is. Numbers, mileage, hours, heart rate. The butter, the icing, the zest of life, for me, is found in these sweet moments, alone, quiet, sitting on my butt pad in the forest, waiting with wonder. I no longer feel like I HAVE TO achieve, check, in order to BE. To BE ME. A happier and more complete ME.

Cheers to the butt pad.

Onward to the forest.

Sarah

Part 2:

The Art of Being Still to Create

Sometimes in the most unlikely of places, I stop, sit, pull out pen and paper and write.

Something about handwriting cements the idea in and makes it real.

Recently I discover voice memos on my phone. Quicker. Voice Texts. Quicker. But they leave my brain Quicker too. Like it’s lost. Not tangible because I cannot see it.

Is my sight vs. hearing more connected to my brain?

When I sit, as I do now, with my tiny thermarest butt pad in the sunny patch, on the newly melted pine needle ice crystals, I listen. Once I stop, sit, write, the surprises come. I hear an animal noise. Is it a bird? A squirrel? a baby chipmunk protesting me, calling it’s mom for help? No Idea. I just know that I wouldn’t hear it, experience it if I were hiking and moving through the forest like I usually do with all of the wildlife stilling, silencing, waiting for me to pass.

Why? Why did I stop here in the first place? to write. About what? I forget. I’m still, in the woods, here now, and I need no other excitement for today.