David Robert Jones, MS LPC

Stepping on Worms (99)

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Each morning, I carve out time for a walk in the Boise foothills between morning routines with our kids and work. Over the past couple of years, I have walked these trails almost every day. It’s a ritual. And one I look forward to and bask in while performing it.

Walking the same trails every day has given me a deep appreciation for the rhythms of nature - what plants grow and when; where the sun rises at what time of the day; fluctuations in temperature; places along the trail that are almost always cooler; places along the trail that are often windy; higher elevation trails that are only accessible when the ground isn’t saturated; lower elevation trails that become hubs of community when they are the only ones in the valley we can use in harsh weather; the comings and goings of regulars; the sounds of migrating birds; the sounds of crickets in just one section of the hollow; the changing colors; the emptiness of the trails on windy, wet, cold days; the rush of footsteps and flurry of voices on the first couple of sunny and warm days; the changing of the shadows cast; the intensity of the heat.

It is a luxury to be able to perform this ritual with such regularity.

Most of the time, I am micro-attuned to my surroundings and I usually notice when I become a bit unconscious, whether from worrying about the day, re-hashing something someone said, trying to figure out my life, etc. :)

Last week, however, I must have been caught up in quite the dramatic simulation because it wasn’t until almost the end of the 1 1/2 mile hike that I tuned back in to where I actually was and noticed worms all over the trail.

A particularly wet storm had passed through the area overnight and the worms were seeking relief from their flooded homes on the dryer trails.

As I looked down, I saw worms everywhere, including one right beneath where my foot was about ready to plod.

I adjusted my gait to avoid smashing the little fella and my first thought was,

“How many worms have I stepped on?!”

I felt a bit of a punch to the gut.

As a general rule, I love contributing to the thriving of life. I realize the cycles of life, for sure. But, I also do all that I can to contribute to watching over, nurturing, protecting, and sustaining life. Where I can reduce harm, I do. Where I can promote life, I do.

I stopped. Looked back over my tracks and couldn’t see any obvious casualties but also couldn’t imagine that I made it through the worm mine field without stepping on quite a few of them.

Not to over-dramatize the event, my response was more meta-connected to the effects and consequences of living with a lack of awareness in general.

How many times am I in auto-mode?

How many times am I missing what is right in front of me?

How can I wake up from mindlessness more often and more quickly?

How can I live even more mindfully, lovingly, kindly, and wisely?

What woke me up in time to avoid stepping on this worm?

What wakes me up through the day?

How many of us are walking around mindlessly crushing worms?

How many of us are asleep most of the time?

What does it mean to wake up?

Is it the same for everyone?

Questions ebbing and flowing, I stooped down closer to the worm and realized that he had seen his last action anyway. He was quickly going to become a part of the trail, a part of the ritual, a part of the cycle of life that I have been walking through every day for two years.

Sometimes awake.

Evermore, so.


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