Sitting outside on my porch swing on a dark,  clear, crisp night, I admire the moonlight scattered across a vast canvas of hills and spruce trees lightly dusted with snow.  The grass and dirt driveway in front of me is lightly decorated with an inch of it.  It’s hours after the first snowfall of the year and the air is crisp, fresh and moist.  The world around asleep giving sound to silence. The snow had not yet been penetrated and was still very fresh, leaving the roads trackless with no sign of life but my own. The stillness of the world could be heard and seen in a single snowflake falling.

The steam from my hot cocoa kissed my skin and filled my nose with the smell that takes me back 40 years when I was a young boy drinking cocoa with family on the same porch. Kids running around disturbing any blanket of snow untouched. Mom and dad still alive playing like kids themselves.

But now I was alone.  No family,  pets or friends around to disturb the peace. I suffered in the feeling of loss. Everyone had died or moved on,  but me. Strangely enough I enjoyed this moment more than any other moment in my life.

The contrast of the freshly fallen snow against the deep black night illuminated the scene,  giving depth as it glistened under the moonlight.  Everything was crisp,  clean and quiet.

As peaceful as it was to sit and enjoy the scenery, I had a desire to sink my bare feet in the snow. To feel the coolness against them. Something I did as a child with my family.

I quickly finish my cocoa allowing the heat of the fluid warm my interior as it travelled slowly down my throat. I stand up and let the blanket wrapped around my shoulders fall to the porch floor. I breath in the cold air. A slight breeze caresses my exposed arms creeping under the sleeves of my t-shirt sending a chill throughout my body.

In this moment I felt that I was going to remember this day for the rest of my life.  From here on a light snow fall,  the scent of cocoa or a place of peace would bring me back to this very moment. Standing bare foot in my grey jogging pants and t-shirt as a grown man.

An overwhelming feeling of energy takes over me and I feel like I am ready to walk a marathon. The feeling was nostalgic.  A feeling rarely felt in my life and only experienced as a child. Somehow everything felt magical.  The beauty of the scene and feeling that came with it was intense. I wanted to come back to this place often. I was hooked.

I took my first step onto the blanket of snow. It was an exhilarating feeling breaking the evenly laid barrier. The crunching sound faintly echoing in the emptiness of unoccupied spaces. My foot sinking through the layers before connecting with the hard earth.

At this moment I wondered how the smaller forms of life dealt with the loudness of the world. To not hear anything at all seemed almost impossible to imagine. This was as close as I ever wanted to experience that. Silence welcomed only for a short time.

The heat from my bare foot melted the snow around it exposing freshly cut green grass. The soft yet prickly strands of grass pushed through my toes and tickled my foot. I placed my other foot down,  but this time slower as to feel the same feeling for a longer time. But the feeling was different. Instead of the snow crunching under the pressure of my weight, the heat from my foot melted the snow underneath with no sound at all. I felt all my senses come alive as the cold grass hugged at my toes and numbed my skin.

I am not concerned with much in this moment and enjoy the experience in its entirety. I wished for it to last. I felt I should extend myself into the vastness, into complete peace. An experience often sought but hard to find.

With each step I could feel the barrier of the snow crunching under my weight.  I could feel the moist cold penetrate deep,  getting colder with each step I took. The pain a steady reminder that I was alive and alone.

The senses heightened to the max as my body searched for feeling and my ears for sound to only find my attention drawn inward. I could hear my heart beat and feel the cool air filling my lungs with each breath.  I could feel the breeze hug my skin as though to warm itself and rob me of my heat. I could see so clearly the dark skies giving existence to the stars and the endless white blanket that hid the world.

Such a surreal feeling. I pressed straight into the night. I didn’t think to where I was going nor did I care. The snow reflecting the moons gaze as to light up my path. It was late night and everything was glowing. I have never seen so clearly in my life or felt so free.

I continued walking until I came to a large stone church. Stopping in front of a small set of stairs I look back at my prints in the snow.  Grass foot prints stood out amongst the untouched white blanket surrounding. I thought to myself that I would walk backward as though someone disappeared through the door. A game I’ve played before. Retracing my foot steps back to my porch.

I look back at the church and admire the strength and presence of the building.

A sign close by reads.

‘Everyone is always welcome`

It didn’t seem that ‘always’ was an appropriate statement as the doors seemed to be very much padlocked shut. I proceed up the stairs to the large cathedral doors. The cement on my feet feels hard and colder than the earth itself. Almost unbearable.

And so there I was,  looking at the padlock on the church door as a sign that I was unwelcomed. My journey had come to the end,  or so I thought.

I looked down and saw laying at my feet an orange book no larger than a Bible with no title.

“How strange to find such a book here” I thought to myself.

I picked up the book and sat on the edge of the stairs. The cold cement penetrating through my joggers reminding me that I was under dressed for the weather, but I didn’t care.  This day is a day I knew I would remember forever.

I open the book and that’s when I saw it. A small piece of paper yellowed from time tucked in the binds of the pages. One short sentence was written in beautiful penmanship. The sentence that changed my life.

‘Attachment is the root of all suffering’

This was the day I knew I would always remember..

I did not follow my foot prints back home. I did not go back to collect my shoes or my memories – not to collect a thing.

This was the day that I made my own path leaving behind my bare foot prints in the past.

This was the day I let it all go and never looked back.