Living the Sweet Life: Walking into the New Year, Wakeful and Enlightened

By Alisa Murray Nationally recognized portrait artist and award- winning columnist.

By Alisa Murray
Nationally recognized
portrait artist and award-
winning columnist.

Looking for a really cool way to end this year and start out on the right foot so to speak?  Have you ever heard of taking a “Muir Trek?” Apparently it’s a thing. I ran across it during my usual digestion of literature and discovered that the concept was created by an American non-profit organization called the Institute for Earth Education and meant to get everyone more in tune with nature. You can find out where they offer these and turn it into a family vacation, which might be cool if you have a while to trek around and be “one” with nature. Those that I found are available for as little as a day and as long as a month!

There’s no better place to get your mind off and down to what’s real than by walking in the mountains of North Carolina amongst the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s quiet and beautiful there, and I am instantly brought back to my Grandfather Big Daddy and our nature walks I took each summer as a child. These days when I find myself there, I cannot help but photograph everything I see almost like I am a little itsy bitsy spider!

North Carolinian woods.

North Carolinian woods.

The purpose of the “trek” is to have no place to be, let the day unfold and try to soak in all of the sights and sounds of nature. My camera and I are transported, and I can literally stay there for hours searching for the next big discovery. Time is supposed to not be kept. You rise when you rise, eat when you are hungry, take a nap when you are tired, and all of this is done outdoors. It sounds relaxing – provided there has been some planning prior to this journey like a picnic lunch including all of the amenities for a pleasant gathering. You know, wine and cheese and blankets and ice. It reminds me of my treehouse I had as a child, where left to my own devices, I would gather books, dolls, art supplies and food and spend the entire day alone and outside. Well, until Elizabeth or Walter David found me.

This “Muir Trek” appears to involve lots of walking around and not really knowing where you are going, because the “knowing where you are going” is what they are trying to get you to stop wondering or worrying about depending on your nature. It sounds like an opportunity for my mind to dream up another business to create or a book to write, hence the camera gripped firmly in my hands – which by the way is against the rules! Alas, the concept is quite intriguing. I think a modified, well-planned version would work better for an old soul like mine.

John Muir said, “Between every two pine trees, there is a door leading to a new way of life.” Perhaps with a good bottle of wine and an Uber designated to safely move me from said point in the forest back to my home, I would confirm my suspicions that time is really non-existent, and the flow of life is one great continuum! I think I’ll try it . . . You never know what might happen. I might even try it – though almost surely regrettably – without my camera companion. You probably should too. I think it would do both of us some good to begin fresh for the new year!

Take Care of YOU!