Notes from the Desert Day Seven

Day Seven (Links to Days One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six)

This is my last full day in the desert. I look forward to returning home tomorrow. But I also look forward to returning to the desert someday, if it seems like the right thing to do at the time.

I took a long walk in the desert today, surrounded by saguaro cacti. It seemed like a fitting way to end my time here. Walking alone, especially in nature, away from the concrete and city sounds, is a good way to eliminate the distractions of an overactive mind. It’s hard not to think of the earth as our habitat when walking the land.

Sometimes I joke that if I am ever diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or some other similarly hideous disease, I may take a long walk in the Colorado Rockies and never return. To be honest, though, I’m not kidding. It strikes me as the most natural way of returning home.

I suppose the idea also has some appeal because it puts me in control. I like to have control. But it’s an illusion, of course. The fact of the matter is, I don’t control any of the really big stuff: whether I’ll come down with cancer tomorrow, or have a fatal heart attack or get mauled by a mountain lion on this hike, or get killed in an auto accident on my drive back, or etc., etc.

Yet it’s control I’m after. In fact, it’s a large part of the reason for this trip, namely, greater control over my mind and thoughts. I feel like I’ve made progress, but time will tell. I’m not even sure what “progress” might be. It might mean giving up all control. And relinquishing everything.

For now, I’m relishing being here, in this place, at this moment in time.

In the desert.

Even a Bozo President Can’t Ruin Everything

After today’s performance in Helsinki, it’s hard not to think that Putin has something on Trump. Something that, if released to the public, not only would embarrass Trump but also would destroy him politically, and perhaps result in his impeachment and imprisonment.

Might there be some other possible explanation for Mr. Trump’s bizarre and arguably treasonous behavior? I suppose so, but it wouldn’t make Donald look any better — although perhaps less treasonous.

Meanwhile, Vera, your grandmother and I just completed a nine mile hike in the Rockies outside of Crested Butte, Colorado, up to 11,200 feet. The wildflowers are in bloom at that elevation, painting the sides of the hills with vibrant colors. When you’re alone on a trail surrounded by magnificent peaks and glorious skies, all seems right with the world.

But all is not right, of course. Today’s shameful performance by our president was a stark reminder of that fact.

I have no idea how bad it will get before this clown leaves the stage. I have no idea how much damage he’ll do. But the Rockies will always be here. And sometimes the best thing to do is to leave the problems behind and walk the earth. Among the aspens. One step at a time.

Take a Walk

“It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth,” wrote Nietzsche. Well, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is well taken: walks seem to have the capacity to foster the generation of sound ideas.

Seneca agreed. He advised us to “take wandering outdoor walks, so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing.” (On Tranquility of Mind, 17.8)

Ryan Holiday added these thoughts in his The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living: Continue reading