One morning in mid-August, our skies thick with wild-fire smoke, sitting inside over breakfast a  grasshopper appeared about 8 inches from my left hand. It was a few days before I headed out into the Olympics on a four day solo backpack.  ‘She’(maybe), the grasshopper, was amazingly vibrant green, like the first buds of spring or like the uniforms of our Downtown Ambassadors, the angels who daily fan out and, with care, remove every leaf fragment and piece of bubble gum from our streets. I cocked my head with curiosity, cupped the delicate critter gently in my hands and ushered her outside. The book Animal Speak is an interesting resource for symbolism, pretty fun for adults and kids alike. What stood out most in the section on grasshopper was the last line, “Remember, they hop up and forward, never backward.”

During my days in the Olympics, hiking in the rain-shadowed mixture of forest and scree, I decided it could be called GrasshopperWilderness.Diving in front of my boots, mile after mile, were dozens of what I later learned are wingless grasshoppersnative to this little corner of the earth (see photo R, not my own telephoto).”Okay, okay!” I thought to myself and to them, “I get it! Up and forward. Up and forward!”

We human creatures have an interesting tendency to want backwards. As we age, we want to back peddle to an earlier body or state of our body.  We move to a different place and yearn to return to a former home or relationship or job. A new head of state is elected, and we desperately want to do back-flips in time as we see the civility and sanity and humanity of our institutions degraded like mountains crumbling. Grief for things lost is honorable, natural. It tells us our hearts are deeply engaged and alive. And…yearning can be the crucible for action, for movement.

The grasshopperis an interesting model in this era of ours. I didn’t have the impression the grasshopperswere focused on the elevation gain ahead to Constance Pass or Buckhorn Mountain. Maybe their brains aren’t large enough to consider ‘insurmountable‘. Maybe that’s a good thing. So that rather than become paralyzed seeing any endeavor as impossible, they simply move; up and forward, up and forward. Ultimately we, too, have to plant our feet on the ground, find the strength in our bellies, our legs, and leap up and forward.

As we hinge to autumn, how will ‘up and forward‘ look for you? In relationship to yourphysical health and the health of your body-mind, is there space for self-care, for choices you know support your own vitality? Plenty of resources here.In the health of your neighborhood,how can you contribute? The Block Project. The Urban League.your local school or Community CenterIn our country,might you support voter registration(if you’re not registered, you can right HERE!), help swing the 8th, support the ACLU.

As our vine maples flame crimson, our gardens die back, our kids launch forward, over a quiet cup of something warm in the hand, I wish some gentle inquiry for you, about leaping up and forward in these days and months ahead.

Autumn Reading List

My Mum asked me maybe a decade ago, “Don’t you ever read fiction, you know something light?” “Nope.” I get levity from the clouds and mountains, watching hawks circle and butterflies, playing with young ones in my life and others dear to me.  I chat about books with patients sometimes, offer up a title that seems appropriate, insightful, beneficial. As we pivot to autumn, I thought I would include a list of books I’ve read or reread since the beginning of the year. A couple I’m still mid-stream. Are any of these right for you at this moment? I have no idea. Consider that a disclaimer, this is not to be mistaken for medical advice. You’ll be guided by sub titles and reviews.

This Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love
Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions  (explores Anxiety & Depression)
What does it Mean to Be White: Developing White Racial Literacy
Altered Traits: Science Reveals How  Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body
Sanctuary: Meditation on Home, Homelessness, and Belonging
The Mountains & Waters Sutra: A Practitioner’s Guide to Dogen’s “Sansuikyo”
Anger & Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity & Justice(Chapter 7!)
Varela Symposium {formerly Zen Brain}Transforming Conflict  (podcast series)
Seeing White(podcast series)
Making Obama(podcast series)

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Nelson Mandela wrote,  “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” As the mornings cool and our days shorten, I wish you some gently inquiry of Up & Forward in this season ahead, for you, for our world.
with loving care,
Amy