Fire Season

by Mindful Walking

I’ve been reading a book about the experiences of a mountain lookout in the Gila National Forest of New Mexico. In ‘Fire Season: Field Notes From A Wilderness Lookout’ Philip Connors recounts eight seasons spent living in isolated surroundings, watching for fire in the forest and desert surrounding him. A former Wall Street journalist, Conners reflects on the effects of living in this environment. This quote really stood out for me;

By being utterly useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself.

I feel like that has relevance to the practice of mindfulness. It is only when we step outside of culture, shedding the demands placed upon us by our lives, that we can begin to experience and understand our surroundings. When we practise mindfulness meditation the workings of our lives, our society, and the ideology of our culture can be laid bare – and it’s not always pretty.  Once that artifice is visible we can begin to look past it. We give up the narratives that we have spun about ourselves for so long – the job we want, the impression we want to make – and settle upon the only thing that is useful and the only thing that is true; the ever-changing stream of sensations and emotions that make out our lives.