Cajas National Park is a high-altitude area west of Cuenca, Ecuador. It’s known for trails through evergreen cloud forests and hundreds of lakes. It’s also home to a rich variety of wildlife including Andean condors, giant hummingbirds and raccoon-like coatis—none of which we saw in our last hike before returning to California.
In fact, our little band of explorers kept looking outward to the sky or into the forests, moving quickly along a trail. Maybe because I was the shortest of our group, my gaze seemed to fall downward. It was also imperative as I often can move too fast and end up sliding down an embankment or doing a face plant.
But in the Cajas, Mother Nature decided to give me a lesson and reward me for looking down.There, hidden among the foliage was the tiniest yellow/red blossom – a Sarazhima flower. Apparently, the bud never opens but just bobs it’s balloon-like head in the winds that cross the Cajas. Further inspection in a forest revealed a carpet of green-on-green grasses that looked more like starbursts. I called to my buddies to come see what a slow pace and a ground-focused gaze brought.
The more I pondered these tiny plants, the more an insight appeared. How often do I (perhaps you) look outward to “the goal”, keeping count of how far I have to go and focusing on the outcome? What do I miss by not slowing down, by not taking stock of what is in my present moment?
As we approach the holiday with all its busyness, I want to be conscious of what is at my feet. The upcoming dinner and guests will arrive in due time. But right now, it is only what I see in the present that has true meaning.
What do you see right where you stand? What does this moment hold for you? It is the only one we own.