To walk in beauty

Navajo land
Courtesy: Kevin Red Star

There is an expression “To walk in beauty”, that I heard for the first time some years ago, but more recently has given me a deeper meaning.

My life comrade and big love, Ann, is a soon to be certified Forest Therapy Guide in the practice of Shinrin-Yoko. Whenever Ann is guiding a group in the forest, she invites the participants “to walk in beauty”, meaning leaving the place in the same or better condition as it was before.

This means treading in the forest with respect for its flora and fauna, and making sure not to harm or disturb any of the life conditions there, e.g. making sure not to tear up the mosses from the rocks or be careful not to throw away a piece of wood that may be an insect nest. But it could also literally be seen as picking up the litter (pardon the pun), such as old beer cans and plastic wrappings.

This is a beautiful thing to do, and if practiced more broadly would mean a considerably better nature for all of us to enjoy.

But during some recent guided walks with Ann, and being on my own in the forest, I have also been reflecting more and more on the inner essence of the expression, and gradually “walking in beauty”, has to me come to have a wider meaning that could be applied to all aspects of life.

We are living in a world with so much evil and cruelty, where kindness and truth are becoming increasingly relative concepts among those having the power.

To remain decent human beings, i.e. “to walk in beauty” and leave not only the forest but also the world in a little better shape than in was before, is therefore becoming increasingly important as a counterbalance to the negative forces around us.

With the narrow viewpoint from my own social media channels, I’m so happy to everyday see so many individuals, sharing their own and others’ inspirational actions. All these persons are truly walking in beauty.

Being an inquisitive person, I also searched the Internet for the expression and found the following heart-warming Navajo prayer.

In beauty may I walk;
All day long may I walk;
Through the returning seasons may I walk.

Beautifully will I possess again
Beautifully birds
Beautifully butterflies…

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk;
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk;
With dew around my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me,
may I walk.

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively;
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again…
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

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Att vandra i skönhet

Navajo land
Konstnär: Kevin Red Star

Det finns ett uttryck att “vandra i skönhet”, som jag för första gången hörde för några år sedan, men som nyligen har fått en djupare mening för mig.

Min livskamrat och stora kärlek, Ann, är snart en certifierad skogsterapi-guide inom en tradition som kallas Shinrin-Yoko. När Ann guidar en grupp i skogen uppmanar hon deltagarna att “vandra i skönhet”, vilket innebär att lämna platsen i samma eller bättre skick som den var när man kom.

Detta innebär att träda in i skogen med respekt för dess flora och fauna och se till att inte skada eller störa något av livsförhållandena där, t.ex. att inte riva upp mossan på stenarna eller att inte kasta bort en bit trä som kan vara en insektsbo. Men det kan också bokstavligen innebära att plocka upp skräp, som gamla ölburkar och plastförpackningar.

Detta är en fin sak att göra, och om fler tog till sig detta skulle vi ha en betydligt bättre natur för oss alla att njuta av.

Men under några av Anns senaste guidade vandringar, och även då jag gått ensam i skogen, har jag också mer och mer reflekterat över uttryckets inre betydelse, och att “vandra i skönhet” har för mig kommit för att få en bredare betydelse som kan tillämpas på alla aspekter av livet.

Vi lever i en värld med så mycket ondska och grymhet, där vänlighet och sanning blir alltmer relativa begrepp bland dem som har makten.

Att förbli anständiga människor, det vill säga att “vandra i skönhet” och inte bara lämna skogen utan också världen i ett lite bättre skick än tidigare, blir därför allt viktigare som en motvikt mot de negativa krafterna runt oss.

Med den snäva utsikten från mina egna sociala mediekanaler är jag så tacksam att varje dag se så många individer, dela egna och andras inspirerande handlingar. Alla dessa personer vandrar verkligen i skönhet.

Då jag är en nyfiken person, sökte jag också på Internet efter uttrycket och hittade följande vackra bön från Navajoindianerna.

In beauty may I walk;
All day long may I walk;
Through the returning seasons may I walk.

Beautifully will I possess again
Beautifully birds
Beautifully butterflies…

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk;
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk;
With dew around my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me,
may I walk.

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively;
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again…
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

united-kingdom-flag-1- This blog post in English

Att hitta sin Ithaka

ithaca

I den gamla grekiska berättelsen av Homeros så skulle Odysseus efter kriget i Troja segla hem till sin hustru och sin födelseö Ithaka. Under denna resa, odyssé, som tog 10 år råkade Odysseus ut för en rad spännande äventyr innan han äntligen kom hem. Liksom för Odysseus kan den kreativa processen vara en lång och bitvis besvärlig, men ofta spännande, resa mot ett hägrande mål.

Men samtidigt som det är viktigt att sätta mål och prioritera så är det ännu viktigare att njuta av processen. Målet ska finnas just vid horisonten, men seglatsen sker just nu och den ska vara spännande och meningsfull.

Om man bara blint stirrar på målet så missar man resan och risken är stor att man tröttnar innan man nått fram.

Den grekiske poeten C. P. Cavafy har i sin vackra dikt ”Ithaka” på ett fantastiskt sätt beskrivit essensen av att låta målet styra resan, men att utvecklas under tiden.

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbours seen for the first time.

May you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind —
as many sensual perfumes as you can.

And may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.

But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Dikten finns på Youtube uppläst av Sean Connery och med specialkomponerad bakgrundsmusik av Vangelis – en 4½-minuters upplevelse som starkt kan rekommenderas.

united-kingdom-flag-1- This blog post in English

To find your Ithaka

ithaca

In the ancient Greek epic of Homer, Odysseus would after the war in Troy sail home to his wife and his birthplace, Ithaka. During this trip, Odyssey, which took over 10 years, Odysseus experienced a series of exciting adventures before he finally returned home. As for Odysseus, the creative process can be a long and sometimes difficult, but often exciting, journey towards a glorious goal.

But while it’s important to set goals and priorities, it’s even more important to enjoy the process. The goal should be just at the horison, but the voyage is happening right now and it should be exciting and meaningful.

If you are just blindly staring at your goal, you will miss the journey and the risk is great to get tired and give up before you reach your destiny.

The Greek poet C. P. Cavafy has, in his beautiful poem “Ithaka“, in a beautiful and inspiring way described the essence of letting the destiny control the journey, but to collect a wealth of joy and experience in the meantime.

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbours seen for the first time.

May you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind —
as many sensual perfumes as you can.

And may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.

But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

You can find the poem on Youtube, recited by Sean Connery and with specially composed background music by Vangelis – a 4½ minute experience that can be highly recommended.

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