The Scent of the North Woods

image The air was cool, the lake lapping at the sand. The sand up here is caramel-colored and dense, just recently thawed from the winter freeze.

Spring is nipping at our heels. It is here, it is arriving and with it comes hope on the angles of the wind.

We arrived yesterday for a client event, with enough time to hike the winding hills behind the former mental asylum. It’s a creative reuse property, now filled with shops and eateries and offices, but I wonder what ghosts sail between the eaves.

The hills circled in on themselves, the tall trees still barren with buds yearning to bloom. At the crest, you can see the bay in all its splendor, and although I know the waters are icy cold and foreboding, there is hope in the constant sound of the waves.

This morning, we are setting up for the fifth of six events to reveal a new brand, new messaging for a client that is founded on hope.

We came north to say hello, to share a story, to align everyone under a mission and a purpose and a desire for a better world.

imageWhy is it that some people brace at the thought of change, while others leap toward it?

These days, I think about the ways in which we try to retain control to reassure ourselves. To make ourselves feel better about our small place in this world.

And it is small, although it can be quite big.

The impact you make, I make, the ways in which we try to help and make the world better, it could be so big if we let it. If we step into the power each of us wields.

If we believe we matter.

Except most people do not recognize the subtle power of our humanness, of our role in the world around us. That fear of not mattering, of going unnoticed for so very long, that is what drives some of us to claim attention, to cling to inflated roles in a small environment, to scrape at the wood of the walls we’re climbing so that we don’t dare fall.

Do I sound severe? I apologize. That is not the way of the peace monger.

What happens when things break down and people crumble and words flail and the hurt sets in … Those are the moments when we need to pull close and let go of the fisting-grip of reaction and trust that it all works out, that peace does live at the end of the tunnel.

But I digress.

This morning, I walked outside in 42 degrees and brisked along the shore of the bay just to feel the morning all around me. The air was cool, the sunrise perfect, reflecting in pinks and golden-yellow on the water’s lapping surface.

Yesterday, when we arrived, the bay was wild. Wave upon wave upon wave kicked in and rebounded out. I opened the door wall in my hotel room to listen to the repetition.

imageIt was so reassuring.

Enticing.

Engaging.

Invigorating.

But as night deepened, the bay quietened and calmed the waves into a whisper.

Still, I could hear it even with the door shut and I liked the way it lulled me toward sleep. It was the perfect kind of quiet where you know that all is well in the world, that life is good, that I am infinitely blessed.

This morning was perfect quiet and optimistic in the movement of the lake. I again opened the door to breathe in the cool air, again took to the outdoors to wend my way along the lakeshore, just to know I am alive.

It was the perfect way to begin a day.

And so I wonder why other days don’t begin quite so calmly, quite so perfectly, when in reality I could take to the outdoors every single day of the year if I were dedicated enough.

No, it won’t smell like the heavy pine and fresh sand and innocent lake of the north woods back home, but there are scents of freedom in every landscape, reassuring gulps of clean air and bright sun and the knowledge that another day means a world of possibility to unfold.

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