Doug Bruns

Things Loved

In Memoir, The Examined Life, Wisdom on May 14, 2013 at 6:00 am

My Maryland Woods

I spent some time over the weekend thinking about my best self as in, when have I realized my best self? I was in Maryland where I am selling some property, much of which consists of several acres of raw old woods, with trees bigger than I can get my arms around. I love these woods.

I do not use the word love lightly.

It was Mother’s Day evening and I was standing in a patch of woods where, four years ago, I scattered my mother’s ashes. The sun was setting. That’s when I started to reflect on those times when I experienced what I call my best self. My mother motivated me in a deep and profound way to seek such things of myself.

Also in these woods I roamed and meditated and worked with my beloved Maggie, a dog that meant more to me than I can talk about. Maggie died three years ago and walking the woods I could see her beautiful sleek athlete’s body fly like an arrow through the undergrowth. And over there, by the brook, is where I buried poor little Oscar, a rust-colored rescue cat that one night had a stroke. When I found him in the morning he did not resist my touch and his eyes no longer held life, though his heart was still beating.

These memories had the capacity to crush me as I walked my woods a last time. I was spared that, fortunately, though my heart was indeed heavy. Rather, I was grateful, a soaring and rare emotion. The animals of my life, my mother, the trees, the capacity for memory, these are things woven together by my aspiration for a better self, a best self. These are things loved and love will, by its very nature, guide a person to such heights.

  1. Lovely. A reminder that we can feel grief and gratitude at the same time. Thanks for this!

  2. When your post arrived this morning, I was having breakfast with a friend who was visiting Maine from her home in the Maryland woods. She has been wringing her hands over her son’s impending graduation from college without plans for the future. She wants to convey some parental wisdom without him shutting down. Previous attempts have been ineffective, or so it seems to her. I shared your post and suggested a mantra: “(add name here), be your best self.” She thought for a few seconds and then smiled. “Yes, I think that is a good message and that is what I truly wish for him.”

    Thanks for enabling me to use your Mom’s wisdom to help another Mom.

  3. Doug,
    Oh my! As usual insightful and reflective of how we view and feel. It is good, as your Mom said to do so. It does confirm what we had that we cherish.

  4. Great post. Our furry friends are the best and for me my most cherished of memories.

  5. […] used to live in a house deep in the woods. Our bedroom had a vaulted ceiling and there were no blinds or curtains on the windows. We had no […]

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