Cut Off

Hackleman Creek winds lazily through the ‘old Cascades’ in a central portion of the Willamette National Forest. It is named for Abram Hackleman, one of the first settlers of Albany, who came to Oregon in 1847 and was one of the organizers of the Santiam Wagon Road. I doubt the creek cares for whom it is named. It just tumbles over a jumble of river-smoothed basalt stones on its way to disappearing near Fish Lake.

Swimming about in the creek is a unique subspecies of cutthroat trout simply callled “Hackleman trout.” The fish became genetically isolated after a lava flow cut off access to the Mackenzie River drainage about 3500 years ago. Over time, the trout developed markings distinguishing it from its long distant relatives.

I notice those times when I feel unmoored, cut off from old patterns. It is like a lava flow of experience has rendered my mental habits unnecessary. My ego wants to reconfigure the familiar old pattern in the same way, which causes great annoyance for myself and others. Buddhism teaches the patterns do not exist on an absolute level so there is no need to suffer. Just allow the mind the settle into its original unfabricated space and the pattern dissolves.

The Hackelman trout just kept swimming when it was cut off from past relatives—and it found a new way to be. It did not have to go on a long retreat or learn meditation.

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