Retreat: Where Nature Cares For Us

Recently I went up into the mountains to Alp Grüm, located between St. Moritz and Poschiavo in the Swiss Alps. I returned with a blister on my left heel, the experience of Tao and a greater range of understanding for a wiser use of my smartphone.

The blister will heal soon. It is a tender signal of my body’s nature, which also is behind these words.

Nature and water: practical Tao

On the hiking trail to the Palü Glacier I got closer to intuitive understanding. I remembered Alan Watts saying: «When you try to catch flowing water with a bucket this shows that you will always be disappointed, as you don’t understand that the water does not flow in the bucket.» This image brought me somewhat closer to Lao Dsi’s wisdom in the Dao De Jing.

The waterfalls by the glacier lake made these words come alive. Just as ten seconds of this movie may bring you closer to your own experience of the river of life.

Playing with the smartphone

The path up into the mountains removed me from all digital devices. I used my paper notebook instead of my iPad for my diary. I kept my iPhone shut off, even though I would have liked to look at the weather forecast. Or the public transport schedule. But as soon as I turn this little thing on again, it bleeps and blinks with quick newsflashes, short messages, missed calls, the number of new e-mails or the temptation of social media. Or worse: what if nobody has been missing me?

This short period of abstinence clearly showed me how fixated I am on messages and my tendency to browse through information. On my way back I rearranged my home screen. It now only shows the agenda, phone, public transport timetable and the weather app. News and social media apps are now no longer allowed to post messages on my locked screen. The little red number showing how many incoming mails I got as well as other push messages I receive from apps are now blocked.

This means that I need to actively get the mail «down at the mailbox». And I do like the new sense of tranquillity. As a side effect, I have learned something about my little addictions. Until the next readjustment becomes necessary.

Self-improvement comes naturally

Am I a better person now? Might these words help their readers to improve themselves? No. Alan Watts’ books inspire me greatly, including the following insight: «…it could be that, if you are liberated from your delusion to improve everything immediately, your own nature begins to take care of itself.»

To our own nature. Until the next blister arrives.

 

August 2015 / Photos Marcel Bernet