It all started to really come clear for me when I and some friends went up to Breitenbush for a few days – a wellness community in the mountains of Oregon with hot springs, their own geothermal and hydro energy, vegan food, yoga classes, etc :) This was a long-awaited trip, but difficult in some ways. None of us are great travellers – it was a long drive and right in the middle of a heat wave. It was 102 degrees in the mountains at 5pm when we arrived! It didn’t cool off until after 1am and in the meantime, Kelcey and I both had bad migraines from the heat. I was berating myself about what I had gotten myself into, and how I was ever going to get them home again (since the next day was supposed to be even hotter and they don’t drive much). I felt responsible, and that I had failed my friends (or my body had). Never mind that they weren’t in any better shape.
But we went out after dark and walked the labyrinth, and when I reached the center I prayed to the elemental gods for it to cool off, just a bit. I talked things over with Maureen all night, and sometime late, some part of me just let go. I said, “maybe I’ll just get some rest now and see how it is in the morning.” And in the morning… it was still hot, but just a little bit cooler. And I sat in the shade, and read tarot cards, and dipped in a warm tub then a cold tub, and cooled off. And ate some of the best vegan food I have ever had in my life, and listened to the wooden flute playing somewhere in the forest, and relaxed. And then we went out very late at night and sat in the hot springs, though it was still really too warm.
And then we drove home, and all was well. And Maureen said… “It’s all part of the journey.” Or I did, I can’t remember. Until now, that phrase hasn’t had much meaning for me, seeming like one of those new age things that people say. But if you look at life, it’s so full of difficulties with little moments of grace woven in, and joys with little elements of sadness intertwined, that each moment is a new discovery – and both the good and the bad are equal parts of the journey, each to be experienced on its own, and each only temporary. The next moment may be better, or worse – and there’s only one way to find out…
So, the adventure of life, like walking a trail. The days with migraines are like slogging up a steep trail in the heat of midday, exhausted and wondering why you are doing this and when the misery will end. Then even in the midst of this with aching feet and back – a gorgeous vista, glimpsed around a corner, or a rare bird flitting across one’s path. Like the flocks of orange butterflies at Breitenbush feeding on the sulfur springs. Accomplishments – reaching the summit of a trail – only to find there’s more to do and hills still to climb. The downward part of the trail into a lush, cool valley with springs and streams – the nap in my hammock with a cool breeze and my cat curled up at my side. Days of walking, picking out the plants along the trail and interesting geology along the way – being engaged in one’s life and work and having everything go relatively smoothly. Putting up the tent, rolling out the sleeping bag, packing up in the morning, all the little chores of life that are done, over and over and over again, but bring some measure of satisfaction in doing them well.
These are my philosophies now – living even more in the moment. Sometimes you just have to start up that trail, not knowing if you have the strength to finish, and see what the journey brings. Even if the worst happens there are new experiences to savor and memories you couldn’t have had any other way – and often, it works out great, and you would have sure missed those things if you hadn’t tried at all. And absolutely no point in worrying about how things will go or what will come next, because at least now, for a while, it seems utterly unpredictable.