I’m sitting up a wash just off the trail well past where most day hikers turn around. I can hear wind coming through the Pinyon pines up in the canyon, and the steady motor of a very light plane approaching.  It’s directly overhead now, not a Cessna. Wing tips are too square. It’s flying a nicely respectful (and legal) 1000′ above ground level. As it passes the sound begins to bounce off the cliffs, sounding like two planes in tandem for a moment.

Plane notwithstanding (as a pilot I easily projected myself up there to enjoy the ride) I have a high level of confidence that I will not encounter another human out here, at least not without fair warning. In this dry, crisp air, voices or footsteps carry far in advance of their people.

I’m not just alone. I have every reason to expect continued solitude, and I like that a lot.

Why is that?

Ah, there are two voices coming past. A young man and woman engaged in conversation, in a world of their own, on the rim, out of sight above me. I move up the wash just far enough to ease behind a boulder, so they can pass without an awareness of me. Without me needing to acknowledge them.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy people. Quite the contrary. One of my favorite things is to sit at the Cafe, engaging total strangers in conversation. I’ve passed many a morning doing just that, for hours at a time.

And it’s not that I always seek to be so alone on the trail. I like to hike with friends. Very much.

But alone, in this way, feels like my home ground. I am quite happy alone. Sometimes exquisitely so. It’s so quiet, inside. So profoundly relaxed.

Walking again, I notice I am musing about that thought I had, about the airplane. About how instead of being annoyed by the intrusion, I put myself right into that cockpit and loved the imagining. I loved the feel of my hand on the stick, between my knees, the action of rudder pedals under my feet, the tiny cloth-covered craft’s eager response to my light touch. Asking for the try, and feeling the willingness. No wonder it’s easy to switch from a horse to a small plane. Same essence.

I love to notice and muse about my thoughts. I’ve long been called an overthinker,  and more often than not have joined the world in judging myself for that…but the truth is that when I think about my thoughts like this, I often connect dots in new and often very useful, practical ways. 

I like the way it feels, to notice something that happened inside me without my conscious awareness. When I did something cool, without thinking about it. I like coming back to notice it after the fact. 

I like being able to unconsciously use my knowing that I do that, to make things go a little better in the future.

After a lifetime of debilitating self-judgment, where I lived very differently in my head, finding fault with, or danger in, every.single.thing.I.thought – this simple noticing is SUCH a relief. 

I wonder if those people noticed when they walked along a thirty two foot long petrified log, disintegrating into small less recognizable bits of rock along the trail? I’m glad I did. Thank you, part of me who notices. “You’re welcome” says Emily with a wink and a swish of her tail.

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