‘Cairn’ival Of Life

Dirt Man and I are forever rambling through the woods. We usually start off on a trail and then we see the path less taken. Or perhaps there is no other path, but we are drawn to an object of interest. Yes, we have a strong tendency to veer off course, but that is where the most interesting things are frequently found. I tend to have absolutely no idea where I am anyway, but when I get so absorbed into nature and my own thoughts, I become completely lost. Even if Dirt Man might not know “exactly” where he is, he is never quite lost, just temporarily misplaced. He has a great sense of direction and always leads me back home. He is my compass. Without him, I’d roam in circles forever trying to find my way home.

A path that led us astray

Dirt Man and I were recently hiking a park that we often visit, but took a trail we hadn’t previously taken. Then we saw a sand dune off to the side of the trail. Dirt Man thought it would be a great idea to see where the path led. We headed through the woods hoping to connect with another trail. We (I) got tangled up in greenbrier, and we found yet another lesser traveled path…this led to the ranger’s station. Uh oh! We didn’t think we were supposed to be there, so we (he) decided we’d roam through the woods until we hit a different trail that he knew ran into it at some point. Sure enough, after a bit of scrambling we heard voices which led us back to the bike/walking path. While I had no clue where I was, I had complete confidence in my guide (Dirt Man). I trusted that his internal GPS would lead us out of the woods.

Cairns are stack of rocks that people use to mark a place. Sometimes, it’s used as a means of finding your way back. Sometimes, it’s used as a memorial. It can be used simply as a landmark to remember where something is. We saw some cairns on the trails out west when we were hiking. According to Wikipedia, “In some regions, piles of rocks used to mark hiking trails are called “ducks” or “duckies”. These are typically smaller cairns, so named because some would have a “beak” pointing in the direction of the route. An expression “two rocks do not make a duck” reminds hikers that just one rock resting upon another could be the result of accident or nature rather than intentional trail marking.”

I not only physically lose my bearings, but I tend to withdraw into myself at times and have a difficult time emerging and settling back into the comfort of my surroundings. I am a thinker, a roamer in my head. It’s a place I work out the complexities of life. Sometimes, it’s a soothing place, and I need a gentle nudge to bring me home. Other times, it can be like the teacup ride at an amusement park…I get so dizzy and disoriented I have to return to reality, less I get sucked into what feels like another dimension. I carry a road map in my soul which reminds me of the intersection between my heart and brain…this keeps me from living mindlessly by emotion only, but also reminds me not to follow the road without actually living while walking it. I suppose it keeps me in balance and from wandering too far in either direction.

Wandering, whether in my mind or through the woods, is very much a part of who I am. Having the security of a home to come back to is just as important to me. My daily cairns take on many shapes and sizes. If I am away, it is the vision of home that propels me. If I am home alone all day, it the sound of Dirt Man coming in the front door. During the day it might be a text from one of my kids or a call from my sister. Sometimes, all I have to do is see the sun shining through the window or hear an airplane fly overhead, and I am reminded that I am a part of something much bigger than myself.

There are times in life that chaos rules. I find it important during this times to focus on anything other than the drama at hand. When I am lost or overwhelmed, I sometimes simply close my eyes and I am transported away from the voices that pull me from the peace. I’m sure it seems to some like I am always going somewhere…and I am; I am traveling on the journey of my life.

The lovely and wise Rebecca of AltaredSpaces wrote this incredible piece on cairns awhile back. It has stayed with me, tucked in the back of my mind. Whenever I feel lost I think about that post and look for a cairn to guide me home. It might be laughter, a trickle of rain, the scent of a citrus sage candle, a gentle breeze, or simply the taste of chocolate that delivers me safely to where I belong. How I return doesn’t so much matter as much as the fact that I do come home. I suppose we all need an escape now and then, whether it be a hike through the woods, a memory, or a daydream. And as crazy as it sounds, we can escape the pressures of everything around us by simply being, by not being sucked into the drama around us but living in the moment right here, right now.

49 thoughts on “‘Cairn’ival Of Life

  1. smile.
    i did very much like your “we tend to veer off course” line though as i thought how many of us feel we are off course of where we want to b. i remembered how many good things can come from the rambling woods of life. thank u :)

  2. dear suzicate, so beautifuly you expressed the delicate stream that runs between
    getting lost and coming back. I am starting my day with a lovely sensation of internal smile:) thank you for sharing this writing!

    • If you didn’t pop over to visit Recca’s blog…please do. She writes with unbelievable wisdom and introspection…always leaves me thinking for days! Angelia, you will just adore her!

    • You’re so fortunate to have that inner GPS…I am so envious of it, but fortunately, I never roam in the woods without my tourguide! I can guide myself with the inner explorations though…at least I’m a half navigator?!

    • I didn’t know either until I read Rebecca’s post and then I started noticing them…guess I never paid attention before or always thought them to be memorials rather than guideposts.

  3. I love this line: I carry a road map in my soul which reminds me of the intersection between my heart and brain…this keeps me from living mindlessly by emotion only, but also reminds me not to follow the road without actually living while walking it. I suppose it keeps me in balance and from wandering too far in either direction.

    Absolutely beautiful just like you! I never knew what a cairn was either. You taught me something new today. I’ll have to remember that one my future wanderings in my own mind.

  4. ” I carry a road map in my soul which reminds me of the intersection between my heart and brain…this keeps me from living mindlessly by emotion only, but also reminds me not to follow the road without actually living while walking it. ” I am quoting the same line as Peg. Must be a line that really resonates! It is that balance point: between heart and brain that often causes so many of my detours and the reason I need my cairns!

    Thanks for linking up with me. I do so love sharing the journey with you! I’m on a journey of my own right now, traveling around Seattle, trying to keep up with a team of high schoolers at a Robotics competition.

    • I think we’re a bit a like sometimes…love your cairn piece better, you are an inspiration. Oh, wow a robotics competition! Hope you’re not exhausted when you get back home!

  5. “Yes, we have a strong tendency to veer off course, but that is where the most interesting things are frequently found.”

    I agree so much with you, Suzi! The most interesting discoveries I’ve found were when I’ve veered off course. Not only while rambling through the woods, but also through my life in general.

    “Cairns are stack of rocks that people use to mark a place.”

    Thank you for sharing that very interesting information because I had no idea?!

    Awesome photos. LOVE that last one, especially! I love rocks. I keep some in bowl in my apartment, and sometimes I like to take a few in my hands and roll them around. I love how their smoothness feels.

    Have a wonderful weekend, Suzi!

    X

  6. I have absolutely no sense of direction, so wandering off well-trod paths can be risky if I’m alone. Cairns would be better than bread crumbs, I think; more likely to survive. When life gets to me, when there are things to figure out, I do as you do – I crawl into myself, my safe harbor. My place to puzzle things out, to work out my feelings, to deal with life as it is.

  7. I Google Imaged Cairns to see more picures in addition to those you posted and landed on a place in Austrailia. Then I took off the “s” and got pictures of cute little terrier dogs.

    Eventually, I got to the right cairn. :)

    Never knew that is what they are called. Thanks for the “education” and for the beautiful, thought provoking essay.

  8. “Once there was a way to get back home again….” Beatles. Always thought it represented that loss of childhood innocence and naturally because of that historical period culture never being able to be the same after our drug use. Ironically as I age and approach 62 I am finding the serenity to go back home again when my time comes. ( But not for a few more decades, of course ! )

  9. As always, a lovely post with beautiful pictures and tidbits of wisdom. Visiting your blog is always like taking a “nature break” in the middle of my day. You are my cairn Suzicate!

    ♥Spot

  10. Sometimes it’s good to take the road less traveled…both in life and in our heads! We’ll never discover anything new if we stay in our comfort zones forever. :-)

  11. I had never heard of/seen cairns – the photos are amazing. I’m the same way, with no sense of direction. What’s scarier to me is that I often don’t remember I’ve been somewhere years earlier but my husband can remember it perfectly. He has an excellent sense of direction also. Good thing, or I might never find my way home (or venture out, for fear of not returning home :))

  12. I can’t help but wonder if it took a really strong man to build the last cairn…. those rocks look pretty heavy! I’ve seen cairns before, but never knew what they were (or maybe it’s because I don’t go hiking enough). That’s a great bit of info, especially for someone like me who can get lost in a wet paper bag LOL

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