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Walking with Desire - guided walk in Morris Woods

caleb.eckert's picture

This was my guide for our teach-in guided walk. Obviously, 15 minutes was not enough time to dwell in silence and cover all of this, so I removed a lot of these readings and a few plants on the walk (would've also liked to have passed the readings around for everyone to read out loud, too).


Morris Woods guided walk – spring day in late April, 2015 - “Walking with Desire”

Arrange ourselves in a circle before walking.

I want to take this time to walk together through the woods, to meet with some of our neighbors live here, but also to look back at what we've read relating to desire, intimacy, and belonging—to the land, to our fellow beings, to each and every other. I hope the words I share with you here—some from our readings, some from elsewhere—and the silence we share together might let us dip, quietly, into reverence. This is an experiment in opening up a collective space for ecountering and feeling for our wellsprings of desire.

For these next 15 minutes, most of all, I ask you to pay attention, really pay attention to your surroundings. Open yourself up to listening—through your ears, your skin, your breath, your nose and tongue. Grope for the unspoken, the overwhelming, the vulnerable, the childlike, and walk with me; feel that terrifying hunger that calls your name. Speak with each other verbally only if you absolutely have to, but I encourage you to walk together, listen, and if you feel moved to, talk back to the birds from that silence. Play with this. Think like a bird, spider, fox. But remember to listen.

So, let's have a moment of silence before we walk.

Moment of silence.
Walk in silence.

mayapples (genus Podophyllum) - fruits edible (when ripe); most have mycorrhizae (symbiotic fungus-plant relationship)

ivy - (genus Hedera), inedible, toxic - can topple trees, choke out their nutrients

mallow (gen: Malva) - all parts edible—tea, soup, salad

tulips (genus Tulipa) - edible-ish, but beautiful - long history of cultivation & associations with empire (Ottoman, Mughal, Roman, etc.)

spicebush (genus Lindera) - edible, twigs and leaves for tea, ripe berries. Crush leaves into your hand & smell.

white trillium (genus Trillium) - edibility disputed, lives among beech trees, seeds have double dormancy (at least2 years to sprout), 7-10 years to begin flowering (I was only 10 years old or younger with these. Still lived in my birthplace when these first sprouted through soil).

fern (unsure, class Polypodiopsida)—reminds me of fiddlehead ferns, which we gleefully used to pick and cook in spring

beech tree (genus Fagus) - nuts are edible, inner bark is edible

linden tree (genus Tilia) - [place: bark, ripped away] leaves are edible (salad) and flowers (tea)


site 1

Charlie Kaufman, “Screenwriters Lecture”
“So you are here, and I am here, spending our time as we must, it must be spent. I am trying not to spend this time, as I spend most of my time, trying to get you to like me; trying to control your thoughts, to use my voodoo at the speed of light, the speed of sound, the speed of thought...

It is an ancient pattern of time usage for me, and I’m trying to move deeper, hoping to be helpful. This pattern of time usage paints over an ancient wound, and paints it with bright colours. It’s a sleight of hand, a distraction, so to attempt to change the pattern let me expose the wound. I now step into this area blindly, I do not know what the wound is, I do know that it is old. I do know that it is a hole in my being. I do know it is tender. I do believe that it is unknowable, or at least unable to be articulable.


Terry Tempst Williams, An Unspoken Hunger (p. 64, 65)
“[W]hat kind of impoverishment is this to withhold emotion, to restrain our passionate nature in the face of a generous life just to appease our fears? A man or woman whose mind reins in the heart when the body sings desperately for connection can only expect more isolation and greater ecological disease. Our lack of intimacy with each other is in direct proportion to our lack of intimacy with the land. We have taken our love inside and abandoned the wild.”

“The land is love. Love is what we fear. To disengage from the earth is our own oppression.”


site 2

Gary Snyder, “Language Goes Two Ways” in A Place in Space (p. 179)
“To see a wren in a bush, call it “wren,” and go on walking is to have (self-importantly) seen nothing. To see a bird and stop, watch, feel, forget yourself for a moment, be in the bushy shadows, maybe then feel “wren"—that is to have joined in a larger moment with the world.”


Winona LaDuke, “Who Owns America? Minority Land and Community Security” in The Winona LaDuke Reader (p. 147)
“These are fundamentally issues, of course, of justice, and they are issues of survival; because the reality is, if you do not have the ability to sustain yourself on your land, you do not have the ability to sustain yourself. That is it in the end. This akiing is the land to which we belong. It is indeed that. It is not our land. It is the land to which we belong.”


site 3

Freya Mathews, “On Desiring Nature” (p. 10)
“To experience for ourselves the intimately apposite poetic responsiveness of place or landscape to our communicative overtures, of creek or river or mountain to our pilgrimage, is to be shifted on our metaphysical moorings. It is to feel graced, even loved, by world, and flooded with a gratitude, a loyalty, that rearranges in us the deepest wellsprings of desire.”


David Whyte, “Self-Portrait”
It doesn't interest me if there is one God or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned.

If you know despair or can see it in others. I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world with its harsh need

to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even the gods speak of God.


[Untitled poem - myself]
How marvelous it is
to see the world again
for the very first time.
The dirt for its solitude, intimacy,
roots outspread, within,
grasping beyond.
To see and hear and smell and touch and taste life
not in submission
but in its illogical, irrational
way of being.
Why, then,

do we turn our backs,
seeking contentment
rushing doubtfully away from
our own quietness?
The heart calls us back

to each other;
to wonder at the love
beneath our own feet.


Joanna Macy, “World as Lover, World as Self” in World As Lover, World as Self (p. 29)
“We have all gone on that long journey, and now, richer for it, we come home to our mutual belonging. We return to the experience that we are both self of our world and its cherished lover. We are not doomed to destroy it by the cravings of the separate ego and the technologies it fashioned. We can wake up to who we really are, allow the rivers to flow clean once more, and the trees to grow green along their banks.”


Terry Tempest Williams, An Unspoken Hunger (p. 131, 141)
Think about how our sacred texts may be found in the forest as well as in the Psalms... I ask you to make your decision[s] with your heart, what you felt in the forest in the presence of a forgotten language.”

“It will not be simple.
It will not be fast.
It will be a slow, steady river that braids our communities together.”


Charlie Kaufman, “Screenwriters Lecture”
“What I have to offer is me. What you have to offer is you.”