The Mule Deer’s Eye

This post is inspired by the poem, “One Place to Begin” by John Daniel.

“A mule deer holds you in her eyes.”  

One place to begin is there—inside that blackness, so black it sparkles. That eye like a planet, like a whole ecosystem shielded by eyelashes so long they might as well be redwoods, four hundred feet tall, so tall even the birds get altitude sickness. Stand on that top branch and jump, swan dive and land without sound on the forest floor. Stay there. You’ll notice, if you sit still long enough, the animals will come.

The mule deer will arrive—lazily traipsing by, her hooves cracking dry branches, her mouth churning grass and leaves and the occasional accidental inchworm. There will be a bit of green foam at the corner of her mouth. You will watch her, and you won’t think, “Is this a quality way to be spending my time?” You won’t think about what your mom or dad or friends would say. You won’t care who just posted on Facebook that their book was bought or that their senior got into Yale. That will all seem immaterial, useless to you. Because it is. The mule deer knows this, and it takes a headlong swan dive into her black pool of an eye—it takes her holding you there in that place, for enough magical minutes—to put it all in perspective. Realign. Chiropracty for the soul.

Because in the end, it really doesn’t matter if you were the richest, bravest, smartest, most beautiful. It matters that at some point along the way, you recognized that this, this very moment, this journey, this breath in and out, is what sustains you. Not something you achieved in your past. Not letters after your name. Not your grand plans for the future. This. Here.

Forget where you thought you were going. Maybe that’s a good way to take a walk. Take a walk where the upcoming corner is just an upcoming corner, and whichever way the wind blows when you get there is the way you turn. It’s trusting that something bigger out there will lead you where you need to go, to the secret stairway flanked by enormous redwoods in the middle of Oakland, redwoods so tall and beautiful you might as well be standing in the middle of the mule deer’s eye.

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