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Posts Tagged ‘containers’

Yosemite walls
Yosemite walls – when we come into this valley they are what we come to see, to admire and perhaps, even to worship. To awe at their magnificence, their grandeur, their diversity. And every where we turn, there is another – a sheer cliff, another with water pouring down, a dome, a craggly edge, and they surround us, and contain us. At dawn some light up becoming brighter while others across the way are still shadowed in the dark, and cast their shadows across the valley floor. Later on, as the day ends, those which were the darkest at dawn, glow orange with the fading sun. And in the moon some are iridescent, a silver of sorts, the shapes and ledges in the rocks taking on a life of their own. but they are still walls.

If you were born here in the days before tourism, would you imagine that this was the entire world? Would you leave the valley, walk the steep paths up the mountain sides or scale the walls? Would this be a right of passage or would it be discouraged or even forbidden – the up there the land of the gods or the deep dark unknown? Would it be a place where only a few would go out and return telling tales of other lands, lands so different from what you see. Lands that do not contain the magic of this cathedral of sorts, lands which provide a vista of it all, lands that are harsher and less dramatic than this. Would you believe them? would you want to go on out to explore or would you want to stay within?

The mountain sides define this valley, make it what it is. They contain its energy and define its boundaries and create a world within – a world with a life of its own for from the valley floor you cannot see what is beyond. Do you stare at the walls? do you focus on what is inside? Are you contained? Do you seek to discover what may lay beyond?

I was called to spend several days in Yosemite Valley and in my time there i looked at the walls and within, felt contained,wanted to stay forever and wanted to escape – not only the walls of the valley, but of the walls that surround myself. I said that i needed to look at and clear the energy inside of my container and found myself unconsciously coming here for i knew this place was special with an energy and life all of its own.

I spend days looking at the walls from a variety of vantage points – in the morning i look at the cliff side that is Yosemite falls and watch the sun rise above, i travel around the valley, out to the area near bridal veil falls and admire El Captain and how it changes depending on where you stand, in the evening i watch the sun set over half dome, and in the moonlight i look at the wall that forms the backdrop to camp 4 where i stay. I stand in meadows which are like large rooms, alone for a moment, and feel like i am in a magical world held in and nurtured by what is around, i meditate and see shapes and faces in the rocky facades. I seek out vantage points that will provide different views, and see how the walls change over the time of day and have a life of their own. i walk back from the meadow near the swinging bridge and the mountain seems to move back and forth back and forth as i move forward and recede. And i watch the water trickle or stream down these walls from above. I love these walls, they are magic to me but then they can start to close in. And become just walls; walls that i cannot see beyond, like the walls of a room or perhaps myself.

I’m staring at walls, these walls are grand and majestic, stunning with a life of their own, mineral content, patches of trees, multiple textures but they are walls nonetheless. they are not like those in a dim room – the typical grey walls of despair, but i am in a grand valley and staring at walls nonetheless.

These are but walls – walls of illusion, like the walls that surround us, contain our souls. At times when the mountains have appeared almost transparent despite the granite density that we say (know) is there. And i wonder what life they contain inside, what lay within and if i could only pass through and in. At times they look flat against the sky, and image in 2D – a veil that could lift at any time, or that you could pass through -but alas, i cannot magically slip through.
Up above is another world, and while we might not imagine this valley is here, but once in we do not imagine there is a beyond, do not imagine it although movement in and out of here is great. A few roads leads in and merge at the final moment of entry into the valley, where there is only one way in and out by car. Otherwise it is an immense journey, up and over the top, up, and up some more though the trails are there. It is a large effort, and others, predecessors have carved the roads, (as well as made the trails) for us.

I stare at the walls and imagine what might lay above – a different world, one of the gods. I imagine a land of the gods that is even grander than this valley. I understand the climbers and what it means to climb the walls in a figurative sense. trails lead up from the valley floor, up to a variety of vista points. this time i said i would stay within, spend several days in this container. And people make steep hikes of endurance to half dome, the top of yosemite falls, nevada falls, glacier point and more, hikes up thousands of feet so that they may get a glimpse of the valley below, this valley where i am. These hikes to the top are the point of coming here for so many, the trails that challenge you and reward you with a vision beyond what you imagined from below.

My times here have been mainly spent in the valley – many times where there is snow up above and roads and trails are closed. I was up at glacier point a year ago in december before the road had closed, and looking down over the valley and to the mountains across the way i was in a very different place. But without a car, i was not about to make the four mile climb up there. And i have turned back on the trails before, here and elsewhere, never quite making it to the top. In fact in my times in many mountain areas, i have preferred the valley hikes to those that take you up above to lookouts over the land and sea. But now that i write i realize that i have appreciated the larger views and vistas from above as well as from below.

Most of us live in valleys though and i know i have generally preferred the valleys. Now i wish to look out and beyond and see the vastness of the land. But the climb is arduous – maybe that is it – the climb is long and need to exert effort to get there. it takes effort to reach the peaks. And i turn back every time.

But i stare at the walls and they begin to close in – i want to see what is above on this north and east side of the valley – a place i have never been. i want to know, i cannot see and must rely on my imagination – i could look at photos but i do not. How i once yearned to be contained by walls, nurturing, holding me tight. now they confine, and close on in, is it that i do not like what is inside, or that i have spent too long in this place.

i take the shuttle to tuloume meadows on the tioga road, a road that has been shut on each of my visits before the one road that leads out of the park, through the highlands, to the east. I break my vow of spending five day in the valley without taking a bus out of its bounds. But the shuttle service will end the next day, a day where there could be rain. we ascend and see the land below – a brief vista at olmstead point but the bus drives on through. I have less time than i thought and end up around a lake surrounded by walls – the bus is full of hikers making long difficult hikes down to the valley floor.

the energy is different up there, and i feel off kilter, i have felt off since we left the valley. i stare at new walls and flat lands and feel the harshness of the place. I feel trapped and panic as i wait for a shuttle to take me back to the bus, panic that i will not be able to get back down. Am i meant to spend time in the valley where i said i would stay for a while, am not meant to go to the highlands, to focus on the container within? Is this the difference between what we call and introvert and an extrovert? But once below i feel content and safe and realize once again just how special the valley is.

The valley is more than the walls that contain. It is a sacred place, a cathedral, and i feel its spirit each time i arrive – the specialness that it is. it has a rich and diverse life inside, one that springs up and lives its life here – the trees and plants, many of the animals – the deer, the squirrels, the bears, flowers in the spring and so much more. It is rich and the dance of life and energy is intense. In the valley all energy is amplified – the all of it, bouncing off the steep granite walls. This is why i feel the highs and lows so intensely here. Why have i stayed in valleys so often before – they are containers – contain all. The walls that are but a container for the rich life inside, and here in Yosemite the valley is so rich and sacred.

And i look and interact with the life forms here and i like the other people who come in are but part of the rich dance that makes up this place. I ignore the walls and do not see that they are there. I sit by the river on a rock or on the beach, walk trails beneath magnificent trees – the ponderosa pines that stand majestic, the incense cedars and so many more and notice a leaf on a bus that has started to turn. I watch the deer who feed on bushes and the squirrels who seek out human food. I see a bear across the river, and walk and climb on boulders that are around. I smell the trees, listen to the water, the wind blow the needles on the trees, the sounds of others that are around. i feel the coolness of the air at night and the heat of the sun at midday. I talk to others and smile as i walk along the paths. I enter into other containers – the shuttle bus, a store, a resto, my tent, and of course myself, and spend time looking inwards as well as out, exploring the life that is in there, the essence of what i am.

While i focus on the rich life inside, i soon realize that although i cannot see out, all is so interconnected. I sit by the river that still runs, knowing that it has come down the cliffs from above. The waterfalls that feed the life below and make the park so famous have come from the meltoff of snow and streams above. The rocks and boulders that lay about, were once carried here by ice long ago or have come tumbling down the walls so much more recently, and the pebbles and sand by the beach have been carried on down. I look up and see the sun which shines on the life below and on the walls – bringing them to life as well, and at night the moon, and the stars that twinkle in the sky. I see a cloud And i see how this container is so linked with what is beyond, but all blossoms with such a life within.

although the walls contain the energy and magnify it, energy also turns on over. four roads into the park – one roughly from each direction, the merge into a single road that leads in and out of the valley. from here the people come and go, bringing in and taking out the energy that they are – and like a cathedral the energy can become transformed in this place. And also transform what is within – adding life, building, creating the villages, campgrounds, roads, and trails. Joining with nature, overcoming it, appreciating it, transforming it. The walls limit and help define the flow of life, holding it and nurturing it inside, allowing the blossoming of life, and making yosemite valley a sacred place for they amplify what goes on inside and define the valley that is.

The valley is a container and i find myself here, to learn to value what is within, the life inside. I realize how porous i am at times – energy entering from all directions instead of on certain paths. I see that i must nurture myself, but also grow and transform what is within. What flows in also flows out, like the river that flows from this place, like the road that takes people away as well as in – ideally transformed, remembering this special place, renewed and enlightened by it, and sharing its wonder with others and glowing a little bit more. And can i be like this, linked to all but contained, transforming energy and shining a light out onto the world.

It is time to leave the valley – i am ready but i am sad. this place has nurtured me and confronted me as i have stared into its walls, scales peaks within and then plunging into the depths. the valley leads me inwards, but it is time to step and flow on out. And as i ride the bus to the lowerlands, i admire these walls one last time (for now).

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This time i ride facing forwards on the train. i return to a place where i have been – a place where the spirit speaks strongly and another where i felt off kilter – my final destination unknown. but for tonight, and the night after i will sleep part way up, in the midlands, in midpines. i had not thought about camping up there yesterday, but seeing other packs with camping gear attached i feel the call, i feel the call – will i still feel it tomorrow? i do not know. but for now i go, and the doors opened up for this trip. i try to go without expectations but i know i do – for memories of smiles come back to me – though i know that is not all that is there. i take this journey, i ride the train, i feel stiller once again. i look outside at the world manifest – from graffiti to horses by the bay, by older homes and new developments, through many zones i will pass. i am carried through these lands on a train, riding on well laid out tracks, on a defined route, a route and rails made manifest by others long ago – an idea, a vision, hard work, labour, and more. for all we see it but manifest, and in yosemite where i go i have seen beyond and through. it is a land of the giants, of something more, of gods – all is, but there it is divine, all is gods creation, but also ours, ours – the fallen angels who inhabit this plane, who create and destroy with contradictory visions, impure motives and more, we can feel the divine, we contain the divine, we are the divine – but have let the other forces in, and in travelling this land we feel all. And what is it that i see as i look out the window – low lying lands that mere into water, people, seagulls, concrete and more, the sky, the hills across the bay. in this journey i rely on my sight, the vision, through my glasses, and the glass of the window, framed. And in this container, i do not smell the air, or feel it, or hear the sounds, or touch, for i am contained, a barrier less porous than the body which contains my soul – i do not touch, but am i untouched, can love penetrate these walls?
Scents enter in – manure – or is it a diaper in this car? I am not sure for this car – number 2 – is a container, linked to others, on a train, self-contained, moving along at its own rhythm. and as with our containers there is a life inside, seemingly independent of what goes on outside – the sounds of conversation, between the cells, or on the cell phones, connected to the beyond – and what is the beyond? A variety of languages, some incomprehensible to the other bodies, but another that is shared, but imperfectly. the climate controlled, the temperature, though the sun heats up some seats, but here, inside, it is altered as is the air we breathe. and some contents of this car are fixed, the floor, the chairs, the baggage racks – or at least more enduring, but other life, the people, and the luggage, pass through more quickly, for varying durations, even emptying out and refilling, coming in from the outside, less controlled, a ticket needed to board, but what will board today, and what will leave, and how much do the contents change from day to day, and how much are similar energy forms replaced, leaving and coming in new, different containers, but for most purposed interchangeable. and how much is this contained interchangeable with others. we stop, and more beings enter in.
And how do i feel as i take this journey. for the moment i feel calm, as i often do as i am carried along, not having to carry myself. protected or contained from the transitory energies outside, still for a moment, going along a path, not having to flush it out, or determine the direction, just letting go and letting it happen. i had to decide to embark, get a ticket, show up, but then, i give my power over and let it take me. and have trust that it will.
i now yearn to camp as i see gear getting on but it was something that had not entered my mind – yosemite as an alternative to cold camping in lake tahoe. a pain arises in the back of my neck, comes on suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, it is unfamiliar and i do not know what it means. my joints stiffen, what am i being told. we have passed through martinez and away from the bay.
I wait in the station in merced for the bus that will take me into the mountains. i feel off once again – there is something about the central valley, something off kilter that lurks here and the energy makes me crackle. and i know it is not just memories although i have felt this way each time i have passed through this corridor – a crossing i have come to dread, but even when i forget about the dread of thinking, there is something that comes upon my when i enter here, something that feels evil to me – up and down this corridor. And while i can state reasons why i feel this way, point to material things – i will not do so for i am tired of feeling that i must justify all my gut feelings and perceptions, and i know that the material merely provides clues to that which lay beneath.
i now sit at the yosemite bug, beneath the pines and ask myself why i am here. i was lifted passing through the lowlands with golden hills giving was to oak and gold, but the bus was full, the energy within i do not know if meshes with mine, was coming here not letting go, for i do not seek what in my mind lays on the other side, the parched out lands which i must cross if i am to get to the other side. or can i just be here, looking neither forward nor back?

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Tica Bus

I travelled from Managua to Guatemala City by Tica Bus, the international bus company that runs from Mexico down to Panama. A well-organized bus company, with finer buses, you know, with air conditioning, comfortable seats that recline, movies and bathrooms and curtains for the windows to block out the midday sun should you wish. And it was a comfortable ride, my day and a half on the bus, and am glad i took it – crossed three borders during those days, and while honduras, el salvador and guatemala are all part of the C4, the bus company made it all easier – at times took our passports to the immigration desk for us, at other times, entering or exiting a country, the officials boarded the bus to check our papers, or we drove up to the office and lined up en mass – and it was so much easier than negotiating the complexities and disorganization of these crossings on my own. And cutting through the corner of honduras that seemed harsh, or riding the divided highways of El Salvador where police in black with large guns seemed to pull over many cars, i felt protected. Yet, somehow, i felt more distant from the land that we passed through than the times travelling on the chicken buses, bodies often pressed tight, vendors coming off and on the buses selling food, the windows wide open letting in the air of the places we passed through, and the frequent stops where you catch a glimpse of those getting off and on, and a still look at the places. And the tica bus was so much higher off the ground, and a luxury bus compared to those others we passed by. And while i was on it, i was glad for the comfort, and wondering if i could stand a chicken bus (ie school bus) again – yet, when i got to guatemala city, and passed through by cab, not wanting to take an expensive cab ride to antiqua (and i trusted the cabbie less than i trusted the ¨dangerous bus¨ , but when i got on the latter bus, i felt just as comfortable, though for a while we sat 3 to a seat and had to hold on tight as we turned the corners, and stopped in many places, it felt more real and connected to the land and people around.

And the ticabus was a container – and for me who stared out the window, less so that for those who sat with drapes closed watching the movies on the screens above. And it made me think about containers, even the cars we ride in, which distance ourselves from the world around, creating our own unique environments, separated from that outside. And how we are split off. And once we are there, how hard it is to step outside, for we imagine the discomforts and the dangers and remain where we are in a privileged world. On the bus, the goal is the destination, put up with the journey in as much comfort as possible – and you get where you had planned to go safe and secure.

I write this from Antiqua, another container, one that is comfortable, but where dangers lurk on the hills outside, and you do not venture out there on your own, and i think it is kind of the same thing. Or when we lock ourselves away in our communities or ourselves, in that which is comfortable, standing above, and on the straightest route, and do not see or interact with that which is around. Or i wonder, do we need to do that in order to make it to our destination unchanged.

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