The photos below were taken early this evening between sundown and twilight, as I walked the trails at the North Carolina Museum of Art park. I’m only working with an iPhone 4, so the pics don’t quite do the views justice, but I can assure you, the sky was absolutely breathtaking tonight. The moon rose before the sun had finished setting…I turned from a western sky ablaze with light to see the moon rise in a pale eastern sky that quickly darkened to a deep cobalt blue. It was amazing to see.
Photos by Viki Atkinson
Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it…Thus if one keeps on walking, everything will be alright.
Walking is also an ambulation of mind.
Every walker is a guard on patrol to protect the ineffable.
~Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
The quotes above describe pretty well the way I’ve come to feel about walking lately. I’ve done a lot of walking in the last month, more than usual, primarily because I’ve found a beautiful place to walk that allows me to surround myself with nature, minus the cars and sidewalks of my neighborhood. The trails at the North Carolina Museum of Art (a 10-minute drive from my house) are well-designed and offer both paved and gravel paths that wind through gently rolling hills and woodland glens. They’re varied enough that I can choose a route based on my mood and energy level, as well as how much time I have.
The move back to North Carolina has been a good one, but it has also come with some challenges, and walking the museum trails has become a meditative, centering activity for me. Continue reading
I don’t remember exactly how the name pathwriter came to be. I was creating this blog, and it had to have a name, and I probably had a thought about writing being a part of my path…or writing being a way to find my path…or something. I’ve been focusing a lot of my energy on trying to navigate my personal/spiritual path these last few years, so I guess the name wasn’t a big surprise.
Along the way, I’ve been drawn to walking literal paths as well—the Poet’s Walk at Ayr Mount in Hillsborough, NC; the paths in and around Forest Hill Park and along the James River in Richmond, VA—and recently, I discovered the trails adjacent to the North Carolina Museum of Art here in Raleigh. I’ve been there probably six of the last ten days, and I love the fact that I can drive ten minutes from my house in the city and be walking in the woods. There are some paved paths that are great for an easy stroll (and strollers), but the ones I love are the ones that take you down into the woods and are “paved” with only dirt and gravel and leaves.
Of course, with a blog named pathwriter, I’m always on the lookout for “photogenic” paths that I can use for the blog’s header image. I’ve found a few over the last couple of years, and the museum trails have quite a few lovely spots that I’ve documented. Anyway, I thought it might be fun to share some of my path photos here from time to time, so here’s one from the museum trails to start things off. I hope you enjoy looking at my paths as much as I enjoy walking them.
The photos below were taken in the meditation garden at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) in Virginia Beach, VA. Currently “between houses,” I’ve been staying temporarily with my mom, who lives several blocks away from A.R.E. Although my brother and mother have both lived in this area of Virginia Beach for many years, I’ve never known of the garden’s existence until this visit, discovering it one day when I was out for a walk and decided to explore the grounds of the complex.
The garden isn’t large, but it’s a lovely oasis, just yards from busy Atlantic Avenue, and the waterfall feature effectively drowns out most exterior noises. I’ve made the garden a destination on my morning walks with my dog, sitting by the waterfall and…well, mostly just sitting. I meditate sometimes, but most days I just appreciate the opportunity to spend a few minutes in such beautiful surroundings. The photos don’t really do it justice, but I hope you can get a sense of the place all the same.
Photo by Lisa Tate
My friend Lisa has a gift for revealing the magic of the natural world through the lens of her camera. She can make a gumball into a glistening piece of sculpture, a magnolia blossom into an abstract of texture and line and color. She has trained her eye to see beyond the ordinariness of her subjects to their unique beauty and particular essence, and by doing so, offers us a different way of viewing the everyday objects and creatures that inhabit our world.
The flower in the photo above is a lowly clover blossom, rarely seen as the individual marvel that it is, lost instead in a mass of other clover plants, grumbled at and mowed down by those who would have perfect lawns rather than meadows. Think about it…how many of us have ever really seen a clover blossom before? I don’t know about you, but thanks to Lisa, I’ll never look at a field of clover the same way again.
This sort of shift in perspective can change the way we look at everything. Like Lisa, we can train our inner eyes to see beyond surface appearances to the beauty within, and our inner ears to hear the feelings of hurt or longing beneath words that so often prove inadequate. We can train our hearts to receive and reflect the light of our fellow travelers, even when they might be lost in darkness.
As simplistic as it sounds, we really can change the world just by changing our perspective. In fact, it’s really the only way to do it. It won’t happen overnight, but it’s so important that we try. Look deeply. Listen closely. Let your heart be the lens through which you view the world, and remember: just like a camera lens, the more you open it, the more light you let in.
pathwriter’s note: I hesitate to attempt to put words to this photo. When I saw it on Facebook earlier today, my response was immediate, a sudden welling up of joy. I know this place. I have been moved to move, just like this little girl. There really are no words…and no words are necessary. This is the gift of dance: it expresses the things that cannot be communicated with mere words.
(There was no credit with the photo, but it is late and I am tired—from teaching three back-to-back ballet classes, oddly enough—so I’ll have to see if I can find out who the photographer is tomorrow. The painting is a portrait of Anna Pavlova by John Lavery.)