“We were born into a world in which things were ready to our hands. It is we who have made everything difficult to come by through our disdain for what is easily come by.” Seneca
It was my 15th day of living in the wild. We had just finished learning how to process animals and had eaten our fill of grass-fed, freshly prepared sheep meat. While feasting for a couple of days after two weeks of hiking 15 miles a day with almost no food, we spent a bit of time preparing rations that were meant to last us through the 4-day, 60-mile hike that followed. We prepared pinole, a traditional Native American mixture of ground corn, barley, and sunflower seeds.
We left camp with our bag of pinole on a strictly uphill course, with our heavy blanketpacks astow, following the beautiful canyon ridges and washes. Six hours later, we all sat down for a ten minute break to rest and enjoy a bit of our pinole.
And then I looked into my pack.
My pinole — my entire food supply for four days — had fallen out ON DAY 1. We had already hiked ten miles and it was hopeless–I had no chance of finding my lost rations.
Today, as I read my journal entries from the trip, I can still feel the powerful emotions that ran through my mind over the next few days. Painful hunger. Bitterness at my fellow hikers for not sharing their rations with me. Thoughts of quitting, of returning to civilization and grabbing a burger.
The only thing I wasn’t doing was living in the moment. My mind was constantly elsewhere—I wasn’t just being.
Finally, my mind shifted to my stoic training: I accepted the situation as it was. I recognized that things come and go, and eventually I would eat again. I finally began to live in the moment.
And then they caught my eye.
Red, ripe rosehips. Bushels of them. As far as the eye could see. We were walking through a veritable forest of culinary delights.
My eyes were blind to the delicious berries that lay before me because my mind wasn’t in the moment. I starved myself for days without even glancing at what nature could provide.
So take a moment, right now. Breathe. Meditate for ten minutes. Are you living in the now? Or are you constantly distracted, always thinking about what’s next?
You might just find a new world, right before your eyes.