This is how I know my place in the order of things.
There are new trees fallen across the path, their needles and leaves still holding tightly despite the wild rush to the forest floor. I knew them in their days of grandeur, hugging the edges of this winding trail. The narrow streambed has come alive with what remains of the downpour, and the forest floor bears the signs of leaves and needles pushed aside as the rush of water surged to find its resting place in the marsh.
The path is a colorful canvas of what once comprised a dense canopy, allowing only the most persistent rays of sunlight to pass -- now the gray skies are easily visible through thin, naked branches, arms raised in acceptance at the passing of the seasons.
The damp coolness on my cheeks, the change from sandals to boots, the musky scent of life's passing, falling, decay.
This is how I know my rhythm.
The forest tells me in the squawk of the departing mallard, and the harried chatter of a squirrel frantically stashing his winter stores. Somehow I feel a kinship in their presence, a familiarity only to be explained by the way my breath knows these trees... what light rain sounds like through the few remaining leaves of a paper birch. The slow crescendoing hushhhhhhhhh of a storm announcing herself through the branches of a stoic white pine. The peculiar scent of a beaver pond. The lyrical flight pattern of a woodpecker.
I relish these moments of being with the forest. An old friend, certainly, but we are never lost for conversation.
In the embrace of this humble path, I forget the spiritual crisis of navigating the technological world in search of meaning.
Meaning is all around - or, perhaps, the search for meaning becomes... meaningless. No longer a question. So too the search for connection falls flat, as my cells rest into an indescribable simplicity of just... being.
Here, I am reminded that I am known. I am held. And I belong.