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Posts Tagged ‘consciousness’

Months ago i set out to write about the energies and spirit of place but what this blog has ended up being is part travel journal and part a chronicle of my moods and emotions and has rarely achieved its purpose. I know that the story emerges as you write, but at the same time i want to try to get back to some of the original intent of this blog.

However, the more i become aware, the more i realize that it is impossible to separate the ‘i’ from the place where ‘i’ am, or even the place i wish to write about. especially now – as i realize the importance of the intangibles of a place – its spirit – not only in nature or in elements, but that which lies behind or beyond the 3D – the spirits of the human presence – of love, fear, caring, conflict, closure, that can be felt and that linger on – and the spirits of the elements and that which we have created in the material realm.

For with everything, our perception is selective, and i can never be sure – is it the place or is it me? Especially when i visit places that i have been before, and that have been significant to me, for part of what lay there is ‘my’ history and the remnants of my own thoughts and feelings are part of the energies that lay there. At times i talk to others and hear a confirmation of what i feel – but other times there are a multitude of feelings about a given place – or occasionally a dichotomy, of perceptions diametrically opposed. And what is the relation between the actors and the locale of the action. Thus all i write is selective, and can change from day to day.

Places have a mood and an ambiance beyond my personal view of it – and in all i am an actor and not merely an observer who stands outside. What is the relationship between the ‘i’ and the locale – how much of the ‘i’ is projected, and how much does the locale impact the ‘i’? How much are ones vibrational patterns in or out of sync with the dominant vibrations in a place. And at times i still must wonder if all is but a dream. Why is one drawn to a place and what pushes one away. And just what do ‘i’ focus on? what is filtered through my lens? what energies do i attract, manifest or push away? For the interplay is continuous and multi-levelled – in terms of thoughts, feelings, experiences, consciousness, and energetic or vibrational interchange. There is so much interplay of which we are barely aware, but that is no less real. And of what are we consciously aware – in terms of sight, smell, sound, touch, taste, feeling, vibrations – and how much more do we register inside.

What is the relation between the material, and that which lay beyond the five senses with which we are accustomed to perceive? Every place has its histories, and how much of it is felt in what one experiences now – and in what way does one feel the impact of what has gone on before though one does not ‘know” and what does it mean to ‘know’ – like those times you have had a feeling and only read or heard something later that confirms what came to you. And what is more enduring or cyclical as if “belonging” to the place, and what is much more temporary “belonging” more to the moment at hand. Then again, what is ‘a moment’ and can you separate time and space?

Precisely what does one mean by place – where do the boundaries begin and end? For within every place there are a multitude of larger and smaller overlapping zones, and there are zones that encompass many geographically dispersed physical places – each similar but unique. And what about places without a physical locale – for instance, the zones in cyberspace. What is the relation between the places we encounter on the material realm and those in other dimensions?

So i guess this blog will still be haphazard for it is so hard to bring it all together. And i know i will continue to write my feelings, memories and about the mystical/peak/trancendent experiences i have,  – but hopefully without getting too caught up in the “me”, and about the material world and  dimensions  and the spirit of a place. soon i hope to have a focus and to write some more of my generalized thoughts, insights and philosophies.

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I went into the realm of the intelligentsia the other day, that place of devotion to the mind. While my visit took place in the physical realm, a given place and time, it was also a journey into that head space that i know all too well. It was a journey i had looked forward to, to a place i felt cast out of, and i place i thought i had unwillingly left behind. But it was a room filled with mirrors, my reflection all around. Although i felt disconnected and critical of what was there, like i did not belong, and i also saw myself reflected in so many of the mirrors. Upon reflection i did see, that part of what i was rejecting was me, and i also saw the reasons why i had to move beyond. And the answers, subject to change, were not those that i expected to find.

The physical place was an office loft just down the street from Pioneer Square. The purpose – a “house party” for an evolutionary worldview seminar from Enlightenment Next magazine. It sounded ideal, a place to gather in the study of consciousness. I arrived just at 8am, or 11 eastern time, when the conference was to begin. A thin woman in preppy dress let me into the building and i took the elevator upstairs and walked down the hall into the office loft where the party was about to begin. Comfortable blue cushioned stacking chairs were set out in three rows in front of the projection screen, and a couch stood on each side. I walked in and looked around, was barely greeted and sat down. The people, a mix of men and women, were neither young nor old, but seemed all unto their individual selves, notepads out and staring at the screen. The tone was understated, the men all had short hair, the women wore little if any makeup, and all wore sensible expensive shoes. And i recognized my face in theirs. One woman played on her laptop, i thought to get the image on the screen, she seemed frustrated, and so I offered that my link was in my email. We have the audio, she offered up, i’m just looking for the interactive page. I was surprised to learn that this was an audio rather than a telecast.

The conference had just begun, so i listened in to the introductions that seemed to go on and on. It was weird staring at a screen listening to disembodied voices chatter on. I told myself if was like talk radio – CBC or NPR – talk shows which i miss – but then as the day progressed, i felt more and more something amiss. The introductions and the first talk were long, and despite all the words often nothing was really said. It had been a while since i had been around the chattering class, and while the term escaped me for a while, i understood why it applied. It took forever to get to a point, if one was ever made.

Instead the speech was full of repetition of the buzz words – evolutionary, post-modern, leading-edge, to dialogue, transcend, cosmic, consciousness, shared cultural values, complexity, irony and more- and at least two adjectives or adverbs proceeded every noun or verb. But it is the vocabulary and jargon of the class, the syntax or i forget the word, that defines who is on the inside and who is out. And i remembered how this academic vocabulary often bothered me for they formed the walls of the ivory tower and helped create a disconnected insular world – a world that called me but that also left me feeling separate from all the was around – for we would study and pontificate but really never join in or truly understand. It is a world apart though enmeshed in the whole.

And as the dialogues went on, responses from the audience began to fill the screen – twittered or tweeted or otherwise chatted in, and a globe with flags showing where people were listening from appeared on the bottom of the screen. Perhaps i am no longer of the post-modern world which they seek to grow, for i wished to focus and listen and not multi-task shifting my attention from the voices to the written words and the images that filled the screens. At the end of each segment a few phone calls would come in, and a conversation would occur, but within the room people did not chat or otherwise connect. Photos would occasionally pop up of the house parties around the globe and they appeared very much the same. But to me all felt so disembodied and disconnected, despite the apparent interaction, cut off. Or is it just me who is disconnected from this world – or am i. For in the realm of the intelligentsia interaction occurs more with ideas and knowledge rather than with people per se.

But is this what interaction and connection has become about in the post modern age, and maybe they are correct and i have fallen behind the times – for there is more connection that before, and it is i who feels so cut off. I sit in hostels and many city centers and all are in front of their laptops, something that i have recently joined in and people do not really connect with the others in the room, but spent their times on facebook and more, connecting so much beyond what i do. And they twitter and chat on the cell phones, connect to the world through technology. And it is just me who stands outside again, not connected in this way.

And many of the ideas, while not revolutionary were certainly worth pondering, but i felt it was mainly coming for the head. Is that what consciousness is all about?. But i look at myself and i see how i lead my life in that way too, and maybe what i see is more a reflection of me, than just what is going on. Or did i join with my peers, who are similar, gathering in this realm. For some are connected personally. One man was desperate for human connection, kept pushing for a time and place to meet, the answers he was given were evasive, never really coming to a point. The people who are here want to join in something larger than themselves, for what would be the point in coming here, if not for that. But i left alone and as isolated as when i arrived.

It is critical and i became a judge, judging others as myself. Few looked alive, with tight-drawn faces, sensible shoes (the uniform that i just bought) and clothes, which for women have the correct amount of flare, the intellectuals where life is lived in the head, more khakis – reptilian people. Short hair, but not too short, on the men. And maybe that is what turned me off, but i recognized myself in many of their faces. But the smooth voices and philosophical language helped place me on the outside. And i realize that is what i have always been an outsider who has wanted to climb in – or have i. am i one who they know will rock the boat, criticize and poke holes in the new paradigm. For i always said i wanted a sociology outside the academic walls, but also of the walls of the cultural class. But at the same time i know i feel the pain of not being let in those very walls that i wish to knock down, for it is not necessarily the inside that i wish to eliminate, but the walls themselves that divide us all, and that separate me. The talk of the complexity, but i feel they complicate all with the nuances of speech, but then i too get impatient with simplistic answers.

The focus is on the creative impetus, for we are creators of our world now and in the future. But with the primacy on creation there is a dismissal or disrespect of those who serve, reflected in this ideology and in our society as a whole. For the talk is of leaders, creators, but those who do the daily work left by the wayside. And in our society the great divide, those who serve downward wages, and the reciprocity of roles diminished – the cooks and clerks and cleaners and drivers of the world, those who silently work to look after those who create. And it is not just monetary but in attitude. I have felt it as I slipped on down (see look how I phrase it) the belief that is felt that the “others” do not know and in doing so there is a creation of the others. And some of it is related to the feminist revolution, the movement away from being a caretaker to a creator, and not realizing there are many who still do, and the relations are now distant, no longer intimate. And is not serving a giving of the heart?

It was out here, back in 2001, that I felt the divide, and the view that there were coming to be two types of people. was it greater here, or that I had left my comfort zone? The citified thin people well dressed in new cars, and those who lived in run down bungalows and trailers around, in sweats and jeans, and larger form, not seeing then the energy stagnating within – for the roles were lost, not only monetarily, but a role of fitting into society. Or is it a lack of respect for all i see, by those with power and money?

But the areas that belong to the cultural are often beacons of light, they are not just the new condo lands, soulless, like belltown, soma, yaletown and more, but also homes and gardens and food and events. And as I discovered yesterday, are pretty too. but not just the post-modern role, for have been like this for different incarnations – maybe not just monetary, but those who are allowed to create. Is this just my own bias, for there also live there many who serve, but who serve from above and not below.

And it seems ironic that I experience this here in Seattle which has seen the waves and the fallout of the shifts – from transport and a port and shipping and a gold rush town to Boeing and aerospace, to the computer revolution, green and rise of the cultural creative class. As they say in the spiral of development many sectors exist simultaneously, but in the evolutionary paradigm, with the idea of levels they are at the top, the pinnacle of what is to be achieved.

And the gaps i see in Seattle help show what the best ideas can do if they are merely from the head. And maybe this is the mirror i saw, overdeveloped in the head and less in the heart – the knowing what is right, but without always the feeling. The reserve and the constraint i sense in this environment a result of this, not feeling too hard or much – yes, shut down the darker side, but is merely repressed and that repression shuts out the light as well. The control, the clippyness as all brews beneath the surface, out of touch and knowing it, could it be the grand waking up. But without love and the heart there is little to be achieved, and i wonder if this was what was missing here – some discussion but more as a sidebar.

And with the discussion of evolution and stage of development, with hierarchy where one stands above, the cultural creatives, post-modern beings on top, i could not but help if what they wanted to create was the post modern version of the Leninist vanguard of the proletariat, a revolution to serve all but with intellectuals at the leading edge. Or is it a movement, possibly unconscious, for those who thrive to maintain their leading place. In a world where many feel lost, is this not intellectuals carving out a role, a break from tradition, but a continuation of the same. The talk was for evolutionaries the leaders of the new post-modern enlightenment. And does not the vision of a leading edge create the us and them that a unified consciousness transcends – for we all are part of a whole.

Evolution is defined as a developmental process, a transition of the view of the world as static and unchanging to one that is in process. But I wonder who they argue against; I know the enlightenment thought that ruled for so many years, but in many ways was just the blink of an eye in human history. what is new is not the idea or change, for instance Buddhism says that all is temporary, but what is still new is the idea of direction, and one that as humans that we can control – but can we control it?.

But the evolution of today is that which lay within, and not just without. The issue is when he talks about the shared cultural values, the perspective of all becoming more complex, and the new impetus and technology that allow us all to share. While that is true, but the emphasis on sophistication, self-aware being and levels of development leaves out and behind the greatest energy of love.

they talk of the leading edge as what began in the 1960s for those with privilege, wealth, education and freedom and the focus on the individual, the big me. and is not this paradigm shift a message to those of us who caught in the dialogue that the isolated me is but a myth, and so many never went here, but is it a stage of development, or is it a sidebar in humanity. the me generation removed the shackles but is now feeling lost not knowing the next step. But the impetus is to keep on moving, though still really not knowing how or where. But you can’t go back, and that is true, but how much can you pick up of what was thrown away. So the next steps are but a continuation of the path you have set yourself on. In the traditional world view you knew who you were and what your purpose was here on earth, but as we broke off the shackles that were destroyed and not so many are wandering lost.

and am I just a prime example of the post modern dilemma – of someone who got lost along the way, and are not my movements not just indicative of the times, and some will argue a time I chose to be born into. And that is what they define – the post modern individual. The opening of the interior landscape but when is it just narcissistic self obsession? And how to we move beyond to truly connect?

There is a focus on expanding knowledge, but what is defined as knowledge is according to the existing paradigm – it is the history according to one particular class, but given that all is intertwined many live it, but there are many other knowledges that exist outside, maybe not accepted by the intellectuals whose roles as they see it is to guide.

many worldviews exist in the same culture, in the same locale, and thus within us too. the traditional, empire, modern and post-modern all exist simultaneously and are interconnected. But when we speak of levels of development and talking to their needs, yes need to acknowledge all, but is it to lead people to the next stage, or to integrate and value what is there, not as behind or in the past, for in doing so are we that different after all. I look like a lot of the people, people who rule from the heads instead of the hearts, the intellectuals of the world, and that is why this focus on consciousness is as so. And I wanted to write that it is stripping the spirituality away, but is that it? And are those I judge like myself, trying to move away from the intellect, growing slowly with a heart consciousness, and I believe some are. Or was my trip there to show the limits in the intellectual focus I desired and had.

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I am in Port Townsend and i feel like i have entered a time warp. It is not merely the historic downtown with the old brick buildings that line the main street or the victorian homes that dot uptown, or the emphasis on historic preservation here, that makes me feel this way. Nor is it because of the predominant vibe – a crunchy liberal in moderation one or what appears to be the average age, older than the norm, but not yet a seniors community, nor the traditional mainstream churches that exist in old buildings on many corners uptown. It is not the old Fort Worden, now a state park which houses the hostel where i stay along with many arts insitutions, and was made famous by that movie, an officer and a gentleman, that was filmed there now many years ago. nor that it is in many ways an ideal small town, with a downtown lined with cute independent shops and restaurants, safe tree-lined streets with older homes and sidewalks, a pretty mainstream arts scene, active marinas and boat building, an independent food coop, and community events all around. It is a small town that works, not swept away by the times we live in now, with a middle class that participates and while many are poor, there is not a visible underclass, or maybe that is because the town is extremely white. Port Townsend seems set back in time, the ideal(ized) place that is now rare to find, but it is also i who has stepped back in time.

My feeling that i have stepped backwards in time, has more to do with my return to this place, than the place itself. I am not only conscious of old memories returning, but also old emotions that come swooning forth, in relation to both what is remembered and in reaction to what is happening in the here and now. I find myself reacting in ways i once did, ways i thought i had dropped, and wonder what part of me it this which is coming out.

Not only do i walk down the same street or sit on the same bench as i have the times before, but i found myself picking up some books of the library shelves, and remembered i had looked at the very same books last time i was in this town. thought patterns come back too, not in relation to the here and now or the past, but also towards the future and my life situation. I feel like the same person i was back then, facing the same dilemmas and looking in the same old places with the feeling that i cannot crawl out again.

While part of the reason i came up here was to write about my journeys in these lands, knowing i would pull up old memories that were held in this place, i never imagined that i would relive so much of what has happened before, for it seems the past lived here has slipped into the present. In many ways it seems like i have never left, and that all the intervening chapters of my life have been erased of were but a dream. It seems like i have entered a container, or a parallel universe where time and space are but one.

The memories are contradictory, both soaring highs and crushing lows, and i still find myself experiencing both. But while the emotions are so real, consuming my being for a short time, somehow feel like i have stepped outside. In watching all this am i the witness they talk about, becoming more aware and conscious, or am i a ghost who has come back to live or am i just losing it? What emotions that i feel are endemic to my presence in or relation to this place, and which are triggered from memories? Am i here to become more aware or am i just playing a dangerous game?

For i feel that i have stepped backwards, gone back to a previous time, not only in terms of memories but in the way i react and that i feel. And i ask myself how i ended back here though i see both the steps i took and warning i received. Why didn’t i listen i ask myself now, plummeted down into depression again focused on just how can i get out, and with the return of the feeling there is no where for me to go. Why didn’t i let go, and take a leap, out to the future, unknown and open, just what was it clinging to me. Did i come back to let go, or did i come back to relive once more. If anything this trip here has helped bring some of the shadows to light, but have they been brought to light before.

I  reopen once familiar neural passageways – and have forgotten all else i have experienced. And i feel that i have not learned, that i have just willingly stepped back into a rut, one that i imagined that i was moving beyond. I am back in a place, not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually too. And can i step outside for i feel that something has grabbed onto me or is there a certain alice that exists here.

While i have stepped out of the time warp, another haze hangs over me, keeping me separate from all around, and leading me to flicker in and out of this place. I am caught up in thoughts, those that were held here before, and which greeted me with open arms on my return to here. And it is those thoughts of not belonging to this place, and being outside, those of sadness and hopelessness and anger hanging on, and this is what i see. What i experience now, is it new or am i wearing an old lens? For the emotions occur in reaction to what has happened now, or did these emotions create the experience? The outside is as blurry as the time warp i experienced yesterday, but it is that mental haze – the being that greeted me.

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(re)interpretation

I write several stories about my life and places i have been and passed through, stories of how i arrived and left, and how i shrunk and grew. But as i write, all seems different as i reach the end. Through writing the story i have interpreted the events through yet another lens.

Now living and telling/showing of a place are two very different things. In recollection you see all with new eyes, like coming back to a place after many years away. You are familiar with what is there but you seen it in light of where you have been. You know what happened and you know the outcome. You see the experiences that were to come as a result of being where and who you were. The living might have happened a few minutes, hours or years before, but in some ways does it matter, the time elapsed, for the remembering is never the same.

What is more real and true, the version as it happened at the time or the one that you tell about. For at the time you often were unaware and now write with the power of hindsight. And what is the story that pushes you along, the scene that happen, or the plot you now write. For often much is forgotten and details embellished along the way – but that is “truth” you live by.

I have found that when i return to a place, all is not as i remembered it to be – yes things have changed, and so have i, but what was it really like at the time? Is it that i have forgotten, or did i not notice in the first place. But as i come back to a place, memories and feelings return to me, some are familiar, but others were buried somewhere inside. And some are welcome, the times you smiled, but others you had pushed aside, and when they arise, you wish that you had left them behind. I have also found that when i return, the story in my mind is just that, a story that i wrote.

And i also find, when i leave a zone, part of the story is left behind. The details that were so clear seem fuzzy and far away. The passion i had and the clear lines and insights i recorded in my mind are faded, only possibly to return someday.

Even more is revealed to you when you write the story and you go back and edit each line. But how many times can it be revised before you need to say enough is enough and just move on. When is the original experience lost in the telling of it? Like when you tell a story of many years before, and someone points out something else or tells you how you were. When does the story take on a life of its own – with so many sequels based on that plot you wrote? But you write anyways, knowing that all is only partially true, for all is interpreted in the first place. And maybe it is not the events or places that shift, but merely the lens it is interpreted through. But that shifted lens also provides the theme for stories yet to come, and in writing them you alter the lens once again. All entries are partial, but my goal is to record them, though they might be reinterpreted several times over.

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I walk along the street by Pikes Place Market. I feel as if this is all a dream, an illusion of my mind. Somehow all does not seem quite real, but fuzzy and hazy like the day. It feels like a bubble floating in space with the container made by the low clouds. The air is heavy, all moves more slow. I feel like i am in twilight zone. Maybe it is because that is the colour of the day, but i feel that i have entered another space. A fog merely created by my eyes.

Clouds loom low. Air is dense  – I feel like i am pushing through its thickness. All is unreal though i walk on the sidewalk, people pass by, clearer and crisper than the rest, tangible in 3D and i hear the sounds of cars. The buildings and more seem untouchable like a backdrop to a stage, only as dense as the air around. And time moves so slow.

I enter into a zone of darkness and another life. In some ways feel like i have returned to a nightmare. It is similar to the what happened in Yosemite, but the mood is oh so different.  I have returned to another dream – left one behind, and now find myself here, slower, and thicker i push through the air. For as i leave one zone, and enter another, i remember only fragments of that which lay before; like waking up in the morning and remembering bits and pieces of your night dream.

And i wonder i all is really an illusion, a fragment of my mind. The aborigines have said that life is but a dream, and in some eastern philophies all is maya, a grand illusion and more and more that is the way it feels to me. Something i have created, a lens i have made up, all around just a physical manifestation of my mind.

I wonder if i am not a “ghost” ,if i am really here, if i have passed on and cannot let go, if all is an illusion in my eyes. If i am but a soul left behind. The moment has the quality of the motion pictures when a ghost shuffles by or one enters another zone, And for a moment i wonder if this is so. And am i just going through visiting places of my life, a type of purgatory where the visions seem so real. Or maybe why these visions come more and more to me, is that i am getting ready to leave.

And maybe we all are “ghosts” souls from somewhere else, just visiting here in a nightdream of a much longer day. And are the different parts and places of my life, which sometimes seem so disconnected, but parts of different ongoing dreams.

As i type this i have stepped out of that space, sit inside, where all feels material and i know that in this life on earth there are real material things – food to quench my hunger, money to live and the dampness that enters my bones. And although i have once again returned to this plane, will i ever truly see the world the same again. For i have tasted this before, and pushed it aside, but these revelations, i can no longer deny.

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I journeyed up and through Yosemite National Park . I have been here before, so what i experienced was not with fresh eyes. i was not only brought to this time and place, but had memories come up of my visits before and was taken to lands far away with thoughts that floated on through.

And i know this is the monkey mind that is refered to in meditation and other practices of consciousness, the mind that jumps around, from branch to branch and tree to tree. And as i experienced the wonder and all else around, i could watch this monkey of mine from a distance, let the thoughts pass on through, come in and out of consciousness. I began to wonder what we bring into our experience when we come to a place? Can we view anything pure? And what does experiencing a place bring up in us? So the story of my visit to Yosemite in April 2010 covers many years and miles and this is some of it.

My journey here really began when the bus pulled out of the train station in Merced. There i was leaving the flatlands behind and going to the mountains. The bus drove through town past older houses, some of wood, with porches and yards and trees, on streets with sidewalks, different from the new developments i had passed by (and which i remembered) and i thought of small towns with pedestrian friendly tree lined streets, towns up the coast and across the county where i have been. The streets were empty, a few cars on the road but devoid of people, a woman carrying a bag from a house to a car, a man cycling down a street, and then finally as we edged near the end of town, a lone figure sitting out on his porch on a warm sunday morning just after 11am – and i thought of suburbia and all those empty communities, housing people but devoid of life.

Outside of Merced strawberry fields dotted the road, baskets beside the rows of the low-lying plants waiting to be picked and i thought my times picking strawberries and how my back hurt. As we road towards Mariposa, past the flatlands into the foothills where black cows grazed on green hills, no trees to be found, i thought of Ireland, where cows grazed on similar terrain. When the grass and fields turned to majestic oak trees, i thought about driving up to Clear Lake with Robert on the way here in 2008. and the first time i saw these trees. And i thought of our drive here on route 49 where colored leaves still hung onto trees, feeling like fall in December.

As the oaks made way to pines i thought of the Sierras, not only here but further north, Sierraville – my time spent there, Lake Tahoe (though that does not look the same), and a hike near Armstong BC where there were a lot of pine trees, and other places with pines, and the way they blew in the wind when i camped at Sierra Hot Springs and other drier mountain ranges in general. We came to Mariposa, a gateway town with hotels, services and shops, and i thought of other mountain tourist towns. Fernie, BC and Canmore, Alberta – the gateway to Banff, came to mind though they are larger and much more developed near higher mountains and ski hills. And the landscape is harsher here than on the coast and i thought about places i had been in the Canadian Rockies. And i thought about Canada, and the north – places where the land is not always so kind.

I got to the Yosemite Bug Resort in Midpines, the place i was to stay. I got off the bus and remembered my previous time here, and getting off the bus then, and the month spent driving around California with my father and how frazzled i was when i had arrived. I had to lug my bag up the hill, and felt a tug in my back , and i remembered carrying it across Fishermans Wharf that morning – how heavy it felt, and how the strap on the back had snapped leaving Monterey so it was even less ergonomic than before, and how i carried extra food and the times i had done that before. I stopped to look at an orange flower that grew by the road, and thought of the California poppies along the harbour in Victoria. I looked at the view, the road below and remembered coming up here before and i felt the weight i and the heat of the sun, and i thought of longer uphill walks with my bag and how it seemed easier then – the four km walk up mountain roads by Kootenay Lake when i was hitching up from Nelson BC from Ainsworth Hotsprings to the campsite back in 2005, and then of my walk down 20 miles of the Oregon coast less than two years ago.

And when i got into the Bug Backpacker resort with the cabins and dorms, restaurant and “spa”, and saw their own tour bus, i thought of other places like this, in the Iguana Perida in Santa Cruz Guatemala and El Retiro in Lanquin, self-contained backpacker resorts, and i looked at the private rooms and fancier cars, and thought about Harbin. I walked a small trail down to the creek, and then up to the upper parking lot which provided a view, and it did not seem as clear, and i remembered there had been no leaves before.

The next day, i rode the YARTS bus up to the park, and remembered much of my journeys there before. The sun shone into the valley and lit up the mountains. Wildflowers of yellow and purple covered the sides of the hills and i thought about wildflowers in alpine meadows and realized i did not know any of their names and remembered walking by the shore in Monterey where the flowers had been as abundant but different, and i was frustrated because i did not know their names either. As i watched the rushing Merced river, tumbling over boulders with the spring thaw, i thought of other rivers, across Vancouver Island, and times on buses i wished we could stop and get out to look at them. And then as we passed the juncture where highway 120 merges in, i remembered i had been able to get out of the bus one cold morning at look at the river as the bus stopped, road construction or plowing up ahead. And i thought of how Robert and I drove in along the other route, and i thought about him.

Finally, i got into the park and Yosemite Valley. I looked at the views, and wondered if my eyes were jaded for i had seen it all before – but every time is different, and i saw some anew, still i know that i compared and contrasted much to my previous visits there. The sun was at a different angle as i made a hike – days much longer at this time of year. Snow was absent from the valley floor. Waterfalls ran full, powerful and mighty, and some appeared where they had not been before in the early winter before the snows after the summer had dried all up, or earlier in march when all was still frozen and snow packs up top had barely begun to melt. And i thought of the power of water and how it carved out the land. Of course it was much busier than before, and i remembered emptier trails and camping with Robert in the almost deserted campground. My mind flung forward, and i wondered what this place was like at its peak, overcrowded and more and was thankful that i was here on this perfect spring weekday.

But my mind not only wandered in time, but in space as it had on my journey here. As i passed through the village and saw the rangers in uniform, i thought of national parks in general and other places i had been. On the crowded shuttle bus where the driver stopped and paused for a while, i remember the free busses in Acadia National Park and how i had to show one driver his route, and how the buses were so empty in the Grand Canyon in February 2002. The bus was full with women from a seniors group in Roseburg Oregon, and i thought of the retired communities on the Oregon coast.

I was hot, still hadn’t taken off my coat, saw the dry landscape and for a moment i was transported to a hike outside of Radium hotsprings, the day much hotter, the grass crackled, and grasshoppers made their special sound. I looked at the falls streaming down cliffs, and thought of other that i had seen – and a ride near Hope BC (i think) where water fell down the mountains around.

I stood in the mist of lower Yosemite Falls, in their full glory,much stronger than before and i could not walk up on the rocks where i had gone and loved. The path and lookout at the bottom were wet from the spray and i thought of the mist at Niagara Falls and how it had been redirected over the years. And when walking up the Vernal Falls trail with the rocks and boulders all around, i thought of rocky trails on the Bruce Peninsula and the rock formations down in the Niagara Glen.

And i walked on the wide trail to Mirror Lake and the crowd petered out. Only a single couple walking towards me, so tiny it seemed, dwarfed by the majestic pine trees that grew especially tall in this place. And i thought for a moment of large trees, the sequoias nearby and the redwoods, the giant cedar, hemlock and spuce further up the coast. My feet began to hurt and i remembered the feeling I not had in some time.

And i thought of how this place acted like a springboard for memories, and i then thought of a professor in grad school who gave us one text and asked us to use it as a springboard to explore social theory. My background was limited and i did not know where to jump off. I realized that the more experiences we have had the more we bring into a place, knowledge and links to all that can be related. How difficult it is to see the world afresh, as if through childrens’ eyes.

I had been wondering how different it was for those who were here for the first time, or how it was for me my first time here when i saw it with fresh eyes. But are the eyes and mind ever fresh, especially here, for who has not heard of Yosemite National Park, and how many images of this place exist in the public consciousness. It was not only memories that came to me, but associations made far and wide. I brought in experience of similar places i had been, pine trees, mountains, dryer landscapes, national parks, waterfalls, people, and more. And do we not do this with all, often unaware. For it is how we learn (this is a tree (oak), that is also a tree (pine), a tree is a plant, this flower is also a plant and so on) and negotiate the world. Everything comes in to how we perceive a place, all that has happened, all that has been experienced, is brought forward and caught in place.

Being here also brought back memories i had long forgotten about, just below the surface, something in this place activated then. And is that why we return to, or avoid, different places, to reopen neural pathways in our brains, to experience not only what is there, but all the associations we have made.  Much of my usual chattering ceased, worries and cares, yes i still had some negative thoughts, worries, quick judgements and more. And thought about writing this.

A few times i caught myself, a few minutes on the path, when i got caught up in one of the images and stories and was no longer where i was, no longer in the now and here. And i thought, now that is the monkey mind taking over, removing me from the here and now. Was my monkey overactive that day? Or was i merely able to stand back and watch it at work? It can be tamed, or merely observed, but can it be erased? And should it be for it shows how all is so connected and interlinked, different and yet the same. And i think of another national park, Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica, where i watched the monkeys play in the trees.

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I sat on a boulder at the side of the trail and felt i was transported to another dimension. Though i knew that i had walked up there, all for a few moments felt unreal. And i wondered after the moment had passed, if this what Yosemite was really about, if this was why it was called a sacred place. If this connection to the beyond was what really drew people here, though many were not really aware of just what it was that brought them here.As i had not been myself.

I’d been thinking of coming to Yosemite since i arrived in San Francisco about a month ago. But at times the hostel was full, or rains and storms predicted, and i had other places i also had to go. But this time the doors opened up and i was on my way. On my journey here, in the night before in Midpines, and when i arrived in Yosemite village i wondered if there was something so special about this place or if i were caught up in myths or repeating journeys i had made before.

My body was tired, back pulled out a bit, but still I had to make my way up the Vernal Falls Trail – something called me there. I had almost got off at the YARTS bus stop in Curry Village, closer to the trail head when we first pulled into the valley. But i was hungry and made my way to the centre to get a breakfast sandwich at Dengans wondering if i should go to Yosemite Falls while it still basked in the sun. But the Vernal Falls Trail called as it had before, and i made my way back there.

I have hiked this trail three times before on my previous two visits to Yosemite and i knew there was something special about the place and remembered a perfect view. My first time here, two years ago, i had been up twice – once above the bridge and high up into the snow, falling down and almost spraining my wrist as i turned back on another barely used trail, Last time i was here, a warm December with Robert in 2008, i insisted that we make the hike, almost causing a fight for he did not really want to go to the special place i wanted to share. I know that his mood changed as we went up all the way to the falls, the Mist Trail had been open, the waters were low and the snow had not yet come, and it was he who pushed me further up and along. And raced back down, not wanting to pause at the stops along the way.

As i approached the trail head i remembered this and debated about going back there yet again, But it was a perfect warm day, the sky a bright blue and the sun shining bright, so despite my fatigue i slowly made my way up and up the paved trail. The park was more crowded than that it had been on my previous visits. It seemed that so many people were coming down – families, small groups and many in spanking new full hiking gear. A couple beside me oohed and aahed at the river rushing along between the pine filled banks.I felt disillusioned, thinking its nice here, but is it really so special after all. I kept on and paused at a place with perfect lighting where water trickled down a boulder covered with bright green moss and began to smile. Still, i was looking for a place along the trail, the most beautiful local in Yosemite from my visits there.

I turned a corner and the vista opened up, steep granite cliffs, the river tumultuous far below, crashing over and around boulders strewn in its path. Off it the distance on the other side, a waterfall streamed down the mountain, and a smaller on also appeared directly across that had not been there on my visits before. I saw the beauty of the valley off to the distance to my right. I took pictures and had my photo taken, and watched and listened to the water stream way down below. I felt much better, my body no longer tired though i had just walked uphill. Was it the ions in the crashing water, the bright blue sun, the steep granite walls and the mountains that surround?. This was the place i thought, and stood there for a while. But others came through, their turn to take pictures, and i walked on up ahead.

I turned yet another corner and stepped into a zone that felt like a bowl at the conjuncture of Merced river and Illilouette creek. A waterfall ran full down a mountain across the way, steep cliffs all around, you could no longer see beyond the mountains in any direction, not the way you came in or out.

A pile of boulders sat beside the path a result of a slide eons ago. It was a perfect place to sit in the sun, a clear vista across the path and i remembered that i had sat there before. I hesitated, which one to sit on, one looked good but hard to climb, so i picked another, just a rock and sat in the shade. A squirrel ran up to me and i chased it away. I looked across the path to where the view was clear and then it happened.

As i stared out at the breathtaking view – steep granite cliffs, skinny pines, waterfall tumbling down, snow at the top, sky of blue – the place was transformed. The mountains across suddenly seemed unreal, so crisp and clear like a photograph or backdrop to a film or upon a stage. The granite cliffs seemed almost flat against the blue sky. Actually everything beyond the trail that was in front of me appeared as but a glorious illusion, flat but with incredible depth, so close but so far away. They seemed light, only as dense and heavy as the air and the sky above. And although all appeared to belong to another world, i felt that if i could get there, i would be able to walk through what once was hard granite stone.

It seemed all stood still, though i heard the sound of the powerful falls across the valley and the stream or river that rushed down beneath, and saw the heavy flow of Illilouette Falls. But all else around, even the pine trees, was still, and almost unreal. Was this all real, for it felt like i was glimpsing another dimension. I an actor upon a stage, all else untouchable by me. Words cannot capture what i experience, they can only provide a glimpse.

The others who walked in front of me making their way up the path appeared in 3D but all around seemed as i belonged to some other world. I don’t know how long i spent in that zone, it felt like hours but was probably only a few minutes. I wanted to write it down, so i unzipped my backpack to grab some paper and the squirrel ran up to me, and i returned to where i was, but took some larger feeling with me. I looked up once again, i was back and connected to all.

Still i was unsure was the world but a collective illusion as some philosophies said, but i knew the mountains and all around were in the material realm. I had been up on the top of one at mountains at Glacier Point and looked over the valley below my last time here. But could it be both, both material and in the other realms. And did the circle as visible from here act as some kind of portal. And right then i knew that this was the very locale i had been looking for. And i remembered that i had a similar experience my first time here.

I got up and walked along the trail to the bridge above, passing out of the special zone, As i walked i one of the boulders along the trail to make sure that it was “real” it was hard and solid and felt like a rock. I touched a small patch of the bright green moss that grew on it, and that was spongy and soft. I reached out to the textured bark of a pine tree, and dug my fingernail in.

I made my way up to the bridge, and stopped where the mist trail was closed, ate part of a peanut butter sandwich and made my way down the same way. And stopped there again – and once again all stood still, only the largest pine tree, much larger than the rest seemed “real” and all else like a crisp clear picture again, a world apart from the here. I took several photos but the do not do it justice – there is something beyond the view. While hikers pause to take in the view on the way to somewhere else – the destination of Vernal Falls, i wonder how many have felt as i have here. And i saw why Yosemite is such a sacred place. And wondered what had gone on here so many years ago.

Yosemite has powerful energies, i’m sure in many places, and that is what inspires others beyond the sight of the Sentinal, Half dome and the waterfalls. That something you cannot put a finger on or capture in a photograph or purchase from a store.

But i also wondered about other portals, for as i walked along a bit further down the Merced River and sat down upon a log, a feeling a dread and agitation came over me, in a location similar to where it had before. It grasped onto me, came out of nowhere, and was difficult to shake off. Was that just memories, or another current of energy that flowed through the place?

Later that day i went out to Mirror Lake – a place i vaguely remembered as special. It too was busier, as people picnics and some kids swam. The water was a murky brown, and the creek that emerged ran slow. I walked beyond where the crowd was and sat on some steps and ate my peanut butter sandwich. The view was nicer from here, looking out at Werther point and Awhali dome across the edge of the pond they called a lake and i took a photograph. A woman stopped beside me, took out her phone, some pictures to send back home she said. as she walked away she said “it’s so perfect it almost seems unreal” and i looked up again and all across stood clear and still as part of another dimension.

It is just the places? Something special about Yosemite? It has been so often called a sacred place and has captured that imagination of so many. Even the “town” near the entrance gate is called “El Portal”. But i also know that i have had similar experiences in less grand, more unknown locales, each one different, but confirming to me that there is so much more beyond the material reality. And it does not exist somewhere else, but in the now and here. Does this place contain portals to other worlds or does the magnificence and wonder around merely help remove the veils and open my eyes so that i can glimpse for a moment what is all around. Is all but an illusion? Still, there is something very special about that place on the Vernal Falls Trail.

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