Stand still

Amazing waves

Wave at sunset
(Copyright CJ Kale & Nick Selway)

This was meant to be Bear II, teacher of “Now”; fearing nothing, ever in the present, calming guide to the rushing soul. Yet, I have struggled to turn her story into a demonstration of “Now-ness”. It was simply too complicated to figure in lessons hinted at in the comments section of the previous post: discarding emotions, avoiding judgement, simply being the “observer”, and standing still long enough to truly see what it is we are looking at.

Well, that changed tonight…

Eagle swooped, in a flurry of golden feather. Bear reared on hind legs, sniffing the air. Crow sat, nonplussed by the commotion, and picked at a twig. Mountain lion stretched, leapt forward and, baring teeth, let out a barking growl.

Having this kind of nonsense happening around you is all very well, but when you are driving at the time, approaching a blind bend, with a juggernaut coming in the opposite direction, it can be pretty annoying. My confusion as to the cause of the commotion was short-lived, however.

The look on the truck driver’s face was impossible to read. I should have known… On the wrong side of the road, overtaking the truck, and completely out of view till the last minute, appeared a very startled individual (when mountain lion roars, he can’t very well be ignored).

Time slowed. The distance between our two vehicles stretched between horizons, beyond all measure for such a tight curve. Every millisecond became an eternity. The passenger’s face distorted into slow motion terror. We were in the Now!

With “no time”, emotion falls away, judgement disappears, fear melts, mind chatter ceases. All that remains is the eternity of the moment, observing the event unrolling before us in minute detail. All that can be done is ACT! Without expectation. Without desire. Without fear.

Brake. My time machine eats the distance between us more slowly. The determination on the other driver’s face, despite the terror etched on his passenger’s, tells me that his hungry machine has increased its consumption.

Blue smoke gently rises from the road beneath the truck, each whorl perfectly forming in slow motion. The driver’s face has taken on an ashen hue, sinews strain to control the three hundred horses at his command, and his mouth forms a silent curse.

Ram the gear stick into 2nd. Brake harder. Bear lies down in disgust. Mountain lion leaps right as the other driver wrenches the wheel to the left, swerving in front of the barely moving truck, and races on.

Jarred to a halt, hardly a car width from the stationary truck, each of our vehicles are instantaneously engulfed in the smoke of burnt rubber. “Now” no longer exists.

The truck driver sympathetically shakes his head at me, his fist at the other driver. Emotion races in, judgement too, in the harshest of exclamations.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that we can, or should, live our lives in a constant state of heightened awareness. If, however, we can find the space to “stand still”, for even a few minutes each day, separating ourselves from the hyper-activity of modern living, then we can hope to regain some much-needed clarity.

The key, if there be such a thing, is to cast aside expectation, and approach our daily interactions without judgement. By dropping the emotional baggage through which we filter our responses, we can begin to recognise each moment for what it truly offers.


Notice the contrast between mountain lion, blindly leaping to defend territory, and bear nonchalantly sniffing the wind, offering a small insight into the difference between an emotional response, and one which seeks to observe, dispassionately, before acting. Bear medicine teaches the conservation of both physical and emotional energy.

About A Misanthropic Bear

Intermittent posting of random touchstones, memories and events. This wasn't meant to be what it would become... But then, is it ever?
This entry was posted in Introduction to shamanism, Shaman tools and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Stand still

  1. Pingback: When it’s not your time… | Stepping Stones

  2. Pingback: When it’s not your time… | Shamanic Paths

  3. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    I really felt that slow motion moment – very well written. Loved you calling it ‘time machine’, too. Great writing! 🙂


  4. Wow! So excellently written. I was there gritting my teeth. You captured the suspense, gave us a fascinating view into your mind, and imparted some truths all at once! A superb piece!


  5. Interesting stuff, Running Elk! 😉
    For me… i feel that in the deepest “nowness”… there is no observer.


  6. alienorajt says:

    An outstanding piece of writing:I was gripped, transported and educated all in one moment. The Wave at Sunset picture is truly beautiful too, and draws me in to a world of deep symbolism and mysticism. Sharing now! xxx


    • Running Elk says:

      Thanks, Ali – much humbled.
      The picture kind of fitted in a way that the alternatives failed to capture… glad you think so, too 😀 xx


      • alienorajt says:

        Absolutely. Still stunned by the imagery, the tension, the combination of otherworldliness and terrifying ‘reality’ – a truly magical juxtaposition. xxx


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