Letting the Day Fill Me

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)


When I woke this morning, it struck me I had nothing to do — no dance classes, no computer to work with or play on, no obligations — and I wondered how I would fill the empty day stretching in front of me.

As it turns out, it wasn’t a matter of my filling the day but of the day filling me. And what a day!

I started out with a walk to Lake Earl at the end of the street. I was disappointed there was no way around the lake so I came back and checked in with my friend. The mile and a half round trip walk had barely whetted my appetite, so she drove me to a nearby nature trail, The Lake Earl Coastal Trail, and dropped me off.

And oh my. Only a few steps into the trail told me the truth: I wasn’t in the desert any more. Ferns, moss, towering tree canopy, plants with immense leaves made me feel as if I were in the forest primeval. I had to keep stopping to take in the sounds, the smells, the wonder of it all.

I’ve been talking for years now about doing some sort of through hike, but I realized today I couldn’t do it. Even if I had the necessary skills, even if I were physically capable of carrying a heavy pack for all those months, the truth is, I wouldn’t finish. Instead of eating up the miles, I would pause to take photos, to take in the ambiance, to be. And that I can do anywhere, even on a mile-and-a-half nature trail, even on the mile trip along the road back to where I am staying.

If that weren’t enough activity for one day, we went to the beach. I saw pelicans flying, and I walked a bit on the California Coastal Trail. To be honest, it’s more of a designation than a trail, but still, I was there. More importantly, I was “here” when I was there.

Being here now, not thinking of the past, not thinking of what is to come. Isn’t that what it’s all about?