Reality is a funny little mechanism of perception.
Even the light that enters your eyes with all of the imagery of the universe is nothing unless perceived.
Without ear drums to vibrate, music would be replaced with subtle vibrations and we probably wouldn’t have nearly as many genres and instruments as we do now.
Ultimately, you create reality in the image of what you expect. Of what you are willing to accept.
I remember once, something around four miles out of town in the Sisters National Forest, entering the woods as predator, becoming prey, and exiting humbled.
Four miles outside of Sisters and you might as well be in the middle of nowhere.
We were up at about 5680ft elevation. I don’t know why that number sticks in my mind, but it always does. We were hunting in the foot hills after a snow and thaw. That’s when the morels really take off.
Something about those mushrooms had us crossing the forests back and forth for weeks. Surely the taste was excellent, but I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t the story they took us through. The adventures they created as we traipsed into the unknown. Drive and walk and drive some more. And walk until sun sets on sage covered hillsides.
This particular time was different though.
Even as I stepped out of the car, the air tasted different. Foreboding and quiet. The foothills in shadow as clouds moved thick overhead and the crisp coldness threatened snow. Still, we felt like little gods and went in. Climbing the hillside over fallen trees and around bush.
We ended up spread out. Visual range of the next person, but just barely. That was the way of it with mushroom hunting. Together means something different on the hunt. I could feel the others even when I couldn’t see them. Knew where they were going.
It began to snow.
The trees seemed darker, and it was clearly not going to be an easy harvest for much longer. We closed the gap and decided to circle, find our companion, and head down the mountain. but it turned out she was further ahead than we realized.
But even that didn’t bother us. We had become comfortable with each other and the forest. This wasn’t unusual. But something felt different. Solemn. Reverent. What finally caught my attention was the hair on my neck standing up.
There’s a sensation you get when a big predator looks at you. When something that instinctually spends all of it’s time tracking prey sets its eyes on the back of your head.
But as far as I’ve experienced it is an entirely unique experience when it’s a mountain lion. And unfortunately I seem to be a magnet for mountain lions. I don’t recall who noticed first, but I know that when I did, a different reality came into play.
The darkness took on a new meaning. The silence became deafening. My ears and eyes looked through the drifting snow for something. Anything.
Solemn became sobering. Reverent became tomb like. It was definitely time to go.
I don’t remember much of the getting back to the car. Adrenaline has a way of focusing your attention. But I do remember the tracks in the snow. Mountain lions have very big paws.
It turns out that when we circled back to head out the cougar had not been very far behind us. We did a loop to find fresh prints in 20 minutes of snow. At best she was nearly on top of us. We dodged worse.
I had to dig a bit, but these photos are from that day, as the snow set in.
What always fascinates me when I recall that experience is that had we never gone to that spot, she would have never found us. Had we not separated, she would probably have considered it too risky. And, had we not noticed her watching and seen her tracks, we probably would never have seen her coming.
Perception. Reflection. Attention.
We created conditions to allow a particular experience to enter. Reality moves not only as we will it but also as it wills itself. Everyone’s perception blending and feeding each other. Layers upon layers.
And it’s less about the strongest will wins, and more that the most perceptive and aware finds the edges best, where the space can be transformed.
The cougar shaped our reality. We shaped hers back.
There are at least a dozen reasonably possible alternatives that could have manifested that day.
So as you venture through your own days,
Consider what reality you feed and create.
Be willing to notice, and willful to decide.
Be adaptive when ripples cross the pond.
Reality is composite. What will you throw into the mix?