Del Monte Forest, Monterey, California
As I walked along, the sea haze began to roll in and cover the forest in a dripping, white cloud. I’ve had it all wrong, I thought. It’s not that I have to give up my thoughts to be in the moment; when I’m in the moment, I have no thoughts.
Suddenly, I was startled by a doe who seemed unusually concerned by my presence. She puffed up her chest, and it felt like she might charge at me. It seemed odd because the deer in our neighborhood are used to people; they keep their distance, but they’re not worried by our presence.
She trotted ahead, glancing back until the forest path led me onto the road. I hadn’t walked twenty feet when two spotted fawns hopped out of a yard and darted across the street, holding the same concern in their manner. The fawns were down a hill, hidden in the brush; the mother doe made no verbal warning or communication, but they knew she wanted them.
The three of them turned to face me. I could feel the connection, that feeling you get when a deer looks you in the eye, wild and free, open and expansive, untethered by mental distractions. I stood there mesmerized. The four of us held each other’s gaze for some time without interruption until the doe broke the spell and led her babies back into the forest.