Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hiking Through Grief with Philosophers

Hiking Through Grief with Philosophers

One of my grief essays was published in the print journal Chautauqua last month. (update - It has since been republished in Redux Literary Journalhttp://www.reduxlitjournal.com/2017/06/235-hiking-with-kierkegaard-by-mark.html )

Called “Hiking with Kierkegaard,” it’s about hiking with grief and philosophers in Yosemite. It’s subtitle is: “The Philosophical Struggle Between the Idea and the Experience of Nature: A Debate Informed by Goethe, Wittgenstein, the Velveteen Rabbit, and Shaped by an Actual Hike to the Top of El Capitan.” 
One of my points is that we do not see reality clearly on our own. We need the help of others to notice the rest, both in nature and in grief.

My starting place was that nature is first a physical experience, and in a place like Yosemite, all of our senses are bombarded by the sights, sounds, and scents of the wilderness.

As soon as we open the car door, we smell crisp mountain air scented with pine, hear water thundering over falls around the valley and the river flowing by. We sleep on hard ground and labor up trails that cling to the side of mountains. At the top we look over the massive forests, granite domes, and mountain peaks and marvel that such a place could exist. And we fall in love with what we see, a love that will grow deeper as we create a relationship.

In Yosemite we get what we see, but we have to look carefully. I think this is also true with those who grieve. Death has cracked us open, and what we want is not surface politeness. When we look into your eyes we want to see compassion. When you speak we want to hear your heart.

This is where we begin in grief, looking in each other’s eyes and speaking openly and honestly. We have learned that there is no other way to live.

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