I begin my travelogue the day before Friday’s departure on my first road trip out of New Mexico since 2015. Hence this is two posts in one today. It’s three days long. Take it in installments. I did.
Thursday, almost as a dress rehearsal, I went to the woods. Despite an infected foot and a defective digestive system, I drove up Hyde Park Road to a trailhead I’d only ever passed before.
I noticed, gratefully, that I was far more forgiving of my funked-up state than I’d been in the past and was less convinced that the woods were offended by my polluted field. I knew this was a place of life for life’s sake.
So I walked and wafted like pig pen along the path. I finally came to a creek and bared my feet for baptism, not only in the frigid flow of snow melt, but in a swarm of insects, there for the heavier work of scouring my field of the citified fog of ferment and frenzy. I sat and journaled, with my feet in a burning cold stream, which drowned out the throbbing toe. What insanity did not drain out through my feet was purified in pouring out my pen:
Walk of the Prodigal Daughter:
Even as I drove up the canyon and the cloying cloud of society loosened, the grid of rigid thoughts ungripped, and the clammy weight of flaccid wills lightened, I began to shudder. The heat and toxic plaque of judgment in my gut began to surface, along with silty flotsam of weary grief and tightly wound spring-traps of grievance.
I walked into the woods impelled by a wise memory, a barely perceptible knowing that I MUST, to save my life.
I walked among the trees in a cloud of Dukha—self-recrimination for being here again, the bleating broadcast of a poisoned belly, a smothered heart….
I walked barely able to feel the benevolent air, filtered by the pine needles slowly sifting my own field.
I walked in prayer and prostration, preferring death to this, preferring death to failure.
I walked in hope, because, I’ve been here before.
I walked on, flouting caution, distrusting my own mind, and the voice of fatal domestication.
I walked down and down, into the sound of running water, my own cloud giving way to one of flies: two legs stirring a cauldron of wings.
I came to a log across a stream and I sat; the flies flooded around my still form. I dropped my feet in the stream, and with them every lie I could, though the belly held fast yet to its tangled moan.
And I had to let that be. There was space around it now, filled with soft sun, loud water, swarming insects, and the pain, numb and redemption of feet in cold water.
I did not mind the flies; they were doing what they would do whether I was here or not. I was content to let them feed on the fetid cloud: little psychic bottom feeders, feeding on the rage and rot, feeding on my age, but NOT profanity.
My state is but a morning’s parable of the humbled mortal, the prodigal daughter, walking home to the Mother to reclaim absolution.
The mind whines, “Why must I go through this again? Why must I fail and fall, again and again?”
But falling is just coming back to Earth, where the human body belongs;
and failure is only a thought, a weapon of the ego.
If I have done this to myself, I give it to the Wise One to redeem it; to use it to redeem me; to use it to show me how to redeem myself and to show me what I cannot on my own redeem; how to claim and live what does not need redemption;
to forgive myself…again.
I can only be as pure as my definition of purity. No matter how pure one eats, a body made of undigested memory may respond to food in an impure way.
All food grows the soul.
Just Say Grace.
After that I hiked out and drove home, sun-soaked and starving …but sane. And simple tasks of self-care that had become so fraught were simple and clear. I then kept my afternoon obligations, and stopped at Sprouts for travel provisions. Sprouts has notoriously long checkout lines. Even so, what should have been a 15- minute errand became a 45-minute one, as the transaction ahead of mine froze the computer, and we all waited for it to be rebooted. But it was still locked up. Eventually, we all got in the back of other long lines, grateful that they moved at all.
During the wait, folks were relatively patient and civilized but began to get restless. I was strangely patient and amused. I began doing a bit of subtle qi gong and looking psychically at the home of a friend who’d had a break in earlier in the day. It was obvious I had space in my field that had become almost unfamiliar at that time of day in that sort of setting. I remembered this as how I used to be… before…when I walked in nature near every day. When I went to Eden each day before breakfast.
* * PART II * *
Up early the next morning, I was ready to be on the road by 7:30 a.m. But, concerned by the swelling and pain moving up my foot from an infected right toe, I followed a friend’s suggestions for ministering to it before I left, to quell visions of urgent care lancing in Colorado.
I got to Crestone around noon and spent a sweet afternoon in the charged silence at Haidakhandi Ashram, interspersing light karma yoga with powerful meditation in the temple. It had been too long, and Baba-Ma had a lot to work on.
Not surprisingly, they kept me there overnight without much resistance from me. My projection had been to soak my bones Valley View Hot Spring up the road before camping in my van; but the phone connection was uncannily uncooperative when I called to make sure they had space. Silence and Geothermal water are two of my favorite earthly experiences, but in the great cosmic game of rock, paper, scissors, Silence trumps all
The next morning I intuited I should just continue on toward the Front Range. I stopped by Valley View, and sure enough, they were at capacity. So, I contentedly wound through the San Luis Valley on the route both familiar and fresh to me. It never got old, even when I travelled it regularly. Less familiar today was the TRAFFIC. High season. All the rafting outfits along the Arkansas river were packed, their parking lots solid with cars. The oncoming traffic was steady, cars whooshing by rhythmically, with relatively few gaps. The farther north I cruised, the greener and greener became the roadside majesty. I was exultant to be back in Colorado. I felt it bodily, more so than I expected. I felt myself coming alive, and filling with…what’s this? A sense of humor!
As I cruised alongside the gushing and frothy Platte River, I felt the growing tug to pull off and douse my feet in it. Before I could find a suitable turn off, I was approaching Bailey and seeing signs announcing “Special Event 6/17/17; expect delays.” I opted to get myself clear of that canyon, and I arrived in Indian Hills to a fond welcome from friends—two human, one feline, flora…and eight chickens.
A walk and a tour of the property unwound the kinks, and before dinner I was recovered enough to give Shirley a Jin Shin Jyutsu session for her crotchety hip. Then I had to excuse myself for an early bedtime in the van. I’d been up early and the cat hair was bringing on my allergic autism.
As I retired in the van with the hatch up, I exchanged some silent ruminations with the three deer grazing the pasture across the narrow road. A couple of blinks later, it was morning. As happy as I was to be where I was, I woke with blahs in my body-mind. So I rose and distracted myself. I had hours before anyone else rose, and my meditation, surrounded by lush flora of the garden, Shirley’s endearing sculptures, and the busy politics of birds and squirrels, was a particularly powerful one; quite a download, made possible, I assume, by the fresh energies and support of the pulsing mountains and surrounds.
I led Shirley though some exercises for her hip and back, and as we lay on the front deck, daughter-in-law Kristin
appeared, holding her own back and bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t stay and join us. They had come to deliver Jim’s Father’s Day card –which was a big hit—and present –which was the wrong size. Hugs were exchanged by all, and off they went. And as S and J settled into fond kitchen bickering to strategize a Father’s Day breakfast for him, I couldn’t
eat, I moseyed on. But not before
establishing a query for the trip: silly Selfies with every friend visited.
Here I want to acknowledge that as I led Shirley through the impromptu yoga therapy session, I felt the spirits of numerous yoga teachers along my path. One of the first was Kim, my original Iyengar teacher. I had gotten a text, once I broke out of the mountain curtain of cell-silence onto the front range, that he was in hospital after suffering an aneurism. So I dedicate any merits of the session with Shirley to him.
I decided to take the high road north—the Peak to Peak Highway—through Black Hawk, and Nederland, in order to stop and visit my friend Caroline outside of Allen’s Park. We had a sweet visit, an opportunity to woo the favor of yet another cat with sliced turkey imported all the way from Santa Fe. Dexter is as black as Shirley’s Quatro, but twice her size, with green eyes to her gold, and comparably contrasting temperament.
Dexter’s dander (and mood swings) drove our party outdoors, and eventually C and I crossed the busy highway that runs between her house and the river. We sat on a rock, captured the required Selfie, and watched liquid glacier sluice and snake along.
I resumed my drive down the highway about 4pm, merging into the stream of SUVs, Subarus and Harleys easing back toward the city flats after the weekend’s escape above it all. Nobody was speeding home; all the cars slalomed down the canyon with that that satisfied and sunburned pace, slowing for cottonwood puffs as they drifted through air twinkling with water reflections and fluttering aspen leaves.
I drove through clouds of memories as I descended into Lyons, waved at Calista’s house as I passed, and sped over the flats with homebound traffic, up 287 to Ft. Collins.
I arrived first at the AirBnB apartment Jack had reserved. I entered and took in a subtle bouquet of the body and perspiration of a healthy, athletic male. Our host wasn’t home, not only because he wasn’t there, but because, I confess, the accommodations didn’t strike me as particularly homey. Well, not by American standards. But then, Jake, the bachelor host, runs a yoga studio, so perhaps time in India has influenced his standard of such things.
Upon I arrival, I could not think past a shower. This was still America, after all, and there was hot and cold running water, and only a three mosquitos in the bathroom (far fewer than in India, or even Crestone, where I had just been slap-dancing with its prodigious population of golly-nippers). One of the bedroom windows even opened, although the blind was broken.
After a shower had uncovered my happier self, I sat down to call a friend, put on my glasses and found myself staring at a pile of finger and toe-nail clippings on the corner of the coffee table before me. I could only laugh.
Next necessity would have been food, but I couldn’t not get the provided WIFI password to work to investigate where the nearest natural grocery was. So I sat down here and began to write.
Jack arrived, and we found our way to a Trader Joe’s. I dined gratefully on smoked salmon, humus and watermelon. Ah…Dolce Vita… and superlative food combining.
When we returned, we quickly surmised that Jake eats mostly smoothies, dominated by green powders, turmeric and bananas. It was a good thing we weren’t counting on the stir fry Jack’s son (Kevin) had offered to cook us there for dinner. We found only a steamer, two each of plates and bowls, and a cabinet full of mason jars. When I opened a drawer to find the single table knife, and three forks and spoons, a cloud of fruit flies was liberated into the air from the hatchery among the mason jar lids.
Eventually Jake arrived and helped us with the proper WIFI passwords, and we all tumbled into our quarters to sleep off our day’s travels.
Continuing with the Yoga thread: The next morning, I received a powerful video from my dear Partner Yoga teacher, Elysabeth, another important influence. In it she performs a brief stage piece revealing some of the darkness of her early life and what her journey has taught her about the blessings of her past. I learned things I didn’t know about her origins, things that could only quadruple my admiration for the Grace and Courage of who she is and what she offers the world.
Heat wave expected this week. Stay tuned.