Eventually, our society just might arrive at the re-Discovery that sports,  sweating, and stillness may provide the most accessible Path toward Awakening and social transformation the Western world will ever see. – coach ilg.  photo by self; yesterday gathering over 1,000lbs of firewood within 3 hours from forest to home.

The ad in the Durango Herald was short and simple:

Free Firewood.  Dalla Mountain Park.  9:00 am.

my plan for the day was a 1.5 hour rollerski at around 8,500′.  however, as Householder Yogi now,  priorities shift.  Free firewood is not something other than a Brahmanic gift.  by 9:01 am i was in Bala (our Honda Element) bouncing up a dirt road never opened save for this event.  dozens of other gatherers had beaten me to the start line.  1 minute late might not seem like a big deal to you, especially given that this was a simple wood-gathering event for the general public,  however, to insane ilg,  this is a travesty… a direct violation of my coaching tenets absorbed from my childhood nordic ski coach and 3x Olympian Mike Elliot who still is on the Board of the Durango Nordic Club; 1) Be Prepared, 2) Be On Time, 3) Give 110%.

being late did not damage my effectiveness, however.  i knew this mountain well; i and Bob Balliger – on our dirt motorcycles – created the now popular singletrack which weaves around world-class climbing boulders which peer furtively yet seductively from an ocean of Gambel Oak, Cedar, and Pine.  swinging Bala around for an even faster get-away after scoring my load,  i launched up the hillside like a kid looking for easter eggs;  aaah!  BINGO!  i sprinted past a housewife that was scouring a drainage to my left.  i had my eye on a slag pile…i was after the Cedar…more rare for free firewood than a 12 lb German Brown in the Upper Animas!  miracle of miracles,  not only had i sniffed out a enormous cache of massive Cedars pre-cut by the Forest Service into 4′ totems,  but perched between living Pine Beings were other treasure chests of Ponderosa and Oak…i was in Nirvana!

now, you might find this odd, however,  ilg considers just about everything an athletic event.  free firewood gathering?  registers ultra high on my competitive zeal-o-meter, and i was determined to be the fastest, most wood-carrying-yogi up there on the mountain today…


the haul…all solo..all with Mantra and Sweat.  Wood as a Spiritual Workshop…do you Get It?

…and i was!   i made three trips from home to the mountain (3.25 miles away driving)  and back to home with 3 Bala-fulls of multi-specied Wood Beings within 2.5 hours.  by the time i pulled Bala up to my secret place for the 3rd time,  that poor housewife was still loading her first load.  my heavy breathing nearly outsung the drone of chainsaws on the mountainside and the Sacred Mantra covered the slopes and pine branches and all the leaves in all the gullies on this morning of thankful mornings.   All these precious Tree Beings were already fallen, mostly by the USFS for fire-control purposes and assumed overall health of the mountain’s biology.


Here is a Conscious Parenting tip for you fathers;  chop wood with your chi-ld.  Families almost never fail to mirror the quality of our own energy, love, and compassion back at us quite clearly.  Dewa was beside herself when she looked at me like i was Shiva Himself;  Bala was parked in the grass in our backyard which was surreal to her, and my Arc de Triumph stack of wood towering near what was just weeks ago our garden, must have seemed higher to her than the Great Pyramid.

“WOW!!!… Daddy!  We can have LOTS of fires and read books (in front of them)!!!”

“That’s right, Daughter,” i saying, squatting near her…“would you like to help Abba chop some wood for our fire tonight?”

The words ignited her naked little-self like a bolt of heaven-sent lightning; “WWWHHEEE…MOMMY!  CONDUCTOR IS GOING TO HELP DADDY CHOP WOOD!” she screamed delightfully while dancing in a pillow of fallen Elm Leaves.   Dewa calls herself “The Conductor” among several other role-playing personalities she is currently trying on.


“Playfulness is as sacred as any prayer, or maybe more sacred than any prayer, because playfulness, laughter, singing, dancing will relax you.  And the truth is only possible in a relaxed state of being.” – Rajneesh.  Our 3 year-old Rinpoche-In-Residence, Dewachen as caught by myself in the backyard a day ago.

In many ways, family-rearing has proved by far to be my most demanding spiritual training ground.  The realization that it is nearly impossible to overestimate the influence of parenting on our chi-ldren tends to set up  chronic worrying about choices.  The antidote for Conscious Parenting anxiety rings straight from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s;  “Cultivate the opposite.” Thus enter the notion of playfulness…a quality which cOMes endlessly forth from the chi of our chi-ldren without urging nor exhaustion.

dewa leaf pile

Dewa, elm leaf pile.  photo by ilg, November, 3, 2010.

And so…until you and i can meet and gather (wood) again,  may all your actions be true, your words kind, and your intent Divinely Guided from your Highest Self.  May doing what you do be fun for you to do so that one day, like a chi-ld playing with fallen leaves, you too play with the burdens which can fall from your attachment with the easiness of an autumn breeze dancing amongst the nearly nude trees.  All the jobs we do, the practices we perform, the sports in which we sweat, are mere apprenticeship.  The real Art, the true Yoga is our life.

Namaste from the Sacred San Juans,

your feeble mountain yogi ilg

One Response to “Chop Wood, Carry Chi-ldren”

  1. Leferisen John says:

    Off to the sacred peaks once again tomorrow for some firewood myself. an area past the nordic center and right before the recently, developed, tornado-alley. will, as always, bring the mantra, as well as a camera.

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