Posts Tagged ‘fear’

I walk up No Name Canyon. It is not a canyon without a name, rather it is called no name. I venture away from the highway and the town, to a place unknown to me, and encounter something else that it often unnamed. The day is warm and sunny, the first of its kind in a long time, and as i take this short hike of discovery, away from the noisy din of the town, i discover something inside as well.

Few people are about as i enter into this narrow unfamiliar zone. I imagine that i catch a whiff of the scent of bear; and then again – i hesitate. i continue up the access road, passing the last homes and few people are around. I do not know if the bears smell the same here, but i wonder.

I am away from the town and the highway. I am aware of my aloneness. I hear the creek and the birds. I watch the water rushing over rocks and logs, beside trees in new leaf, the sun shining through, the elements connecting and i feel connected too. I feel a gentle breeze blowing through, and if i listen closely enough i can hear it too. It is the trees, grasses or the sparse undergrowth and me in this land.

Entering No Name

I do not venture up too far, i do not go into the back country or even too far into midcountry. At a place where a small stream, a trickle, crosses over the path, i hesitate. i think of the full creeks and flooding, i think of the heavy snowpack this year. i imagine the creek rising though it is a sunny day. i turn around and do not venture forth. Now i sit on a log writing – wondering if to go forth again, or to turn back, but i do not want to go back to the town quite yet.

I remember my first time in Colorado, actually my only other time here, 25 years ago. I was up near Estes Park – somewhere out of town, at a quiet, isolated hostel. It was my first encounter with wilderness. I was amazed and i was scared, afraid of what might be there, of what may come. i was alone, on a short trail, i am not sure where exactly, the air was fresh, and i felt fear, i was out of my element for i was a city girl, one who grew up in the suburbs. All was new to me – had never really hiked – perhaps a bit with girl guides, and never been in the wild, the wild that i craved, but that i now feared. I turned back to the hostel, ashamed, after pacing back and forth in place, but found a few others to go with later or was it the next day. I’m sure i must have held them back but i followed and listened, unsure about going on. I was 20 then, and have lived another lifetime plus since then. 

I sit on the edge of the trail, on a fallen log, wondering what i should do. The path calls me forth, and i do not wish to head back to the town, it is not yet time. I was unsure as i entered, and that uncertainty follows me. The truth is, i am still not truly comfortable in the wild – it calls me forth, but then i turn back to the land that we have built, and once there want to go out again. I know i prefer a tamer landscape, but this is where i am – on national forest land – land that i value, that is accessible to all, that is still untamed. There is a trail which people use, and i am not very far along, but the wild that beckons also feels lonely, and i feel out of my element. I am so aware of my presence here. But i have felt this in so many other locales, along so many trails, calling myself chicken and feeling bad. Still, i think of the access road, and the no trespassing and keep out signs in front of the homes, and that is what is often around in the created world, in the built environment, and that is how i often feel there, looking in to places i may not enter.

I picked a comfortable place to sit, but one without a view, crunched up on the edge of the trail. I feel i must continue on, at least a bit, see if i can cross the stream. For how many times have i turned back and asked myself why, especially after hearing about what lay on the other side, or further down the road. Is it a call to go forth or just a feeling that i should – one those should feelings that have more to do with the ideas of what you are supposed to do rather than to any true call. But i look up, and go on, something is calling.

The creek is easy to cross, in fact after stepping over shallow water, i step onto a log that crosses it – a log that has been smoothed and is an integral part of the trail. the trail passes next to the creek and i listen, listen to the sound of flowing water and feel alive, i pass through trees, and keep telling myself i will go to the next turn and then the next to get another view of the mountain tops. I am at peace. Well almost, for i keep asking how far will i go. But still, my perspective has changed, and with each bend, the lens shifts again.

I come to a place with some boulders on which to sit, a flat area by the water, with both sun and shade. I have climbed a bit and short steep walls

special place on no name creek

enclose the water, a mini-canyon of sorts, and i look down the creek and at the mountain tops in all directions. The trail seems to split here, the main part heading up and away from the creek in a series of switchbacks, another going down closer to the water.

I look at the trail heading up, ascending, and i know it will take me into another land. I feel that i should go up, and it is a should for the other path calls me more. I am not sure if it is a true path, but say i will take a look, and then perhaps return. i turn down it; it narrows and dead-ends by the water. I return to the overlook beside the creek, sit on the boulders and smoke a cigarette – something i know that i should not be doing here – but as always, i am careful, careful to completely put out the flame, pour water over it, and remove the butt, leave no trace, no trace of my presence.

I think of other mountain trails i have gone up, and the many i have not; the many where i have stopped short of reaching the top. Just the other day, i had gone up the Red Mountain, Jean Golay trail, but i did not make it to the top, the day had turned hot, and i had not brought enough water with me. I got close, to an amazing vista with a view and a bench, but i thought of how many times i had done that, come close and then stopped and turned back.

I think of my recent trip to Yosemite, where i finally reached the top of nevada falls – had turned back a few times before, on previous visits, first at the bottom, and then the top of vernal falls. But this time i had made it, twice, and the second time was much easier. i knew the path, i knew that i could reach the goal, so went up with confidence. I knew that to reach the top took some effort, and i could do it. Up top had amazing views of the valley and beyond, i was happy to have made it but also asked myself why was i here? Many others walked the trail, young and old, fit and not, and so i felt that i should too. But i had shown myself that i could.

I thought of Crough Patrick, and those who encouraged me to make it to the top when i wanted to give up; and again so glad i did not turn back, it was a goal i had set, climb the saint’s mountain, and while the views were grand, up top were gathered groups of people engaged in loud banter, milling about and greater peace was found along the path. But i made it.

And that is part of it, making it. But making what? That and avoiding the feeling of failure, of having missed out. I remember regrets of turning back before the top, of turning back in so many places out of fear, out of the belief that i could not get there or of not knowing what would be there. The volcanoes not climbed, the trails not hiked, turning back before i reached it, or never going for it because i told myself no. And i also thought of others where i continued up or down to prove a point, to prove that i could.

But here there is no single peak to climb, and the trails go back for 8 miles into the flattop wilderness, only to connect to more trails, and there was no where in particular that i wanted to go. Besides, there were no others around to encourage or to inspire me. And the trail veered away from the creek. Was it where i really wanted to go?

I again thought of Yosemite, and the upper falls trail, where i came close to turning back, it was crowded, a solid line going up, some dropping off at various points. I felt closed in on, pushed along at points, at congested vistas, and the trail was narrow so it was hard just to pause and be with the all, to take in the path itself and all it had to show. I had no intention of going to the very top, but to the overlook of the upper falls, and there i stopped and felt at one with the all, found a special place and sat for a while. I got to the place that i had set in mind, and while i did not spend enough time there, i reached my goal. And while later others, the alpha types, scoffed at this, i knew that my hike was mine, and that i also had views and vistas they had missed, and my destination was my own.

looking down no name

I breathe, breathe deep. It is me and the wilderness here – the mountains, the trees, the water, the stone. I watch the rush of the water again, flowing down. I feel its life, and the life of spring in the trees and new leaves. All opens up. all becomes clear. The mountains become alive and reveal themselves to me. A calm floats over me, and i feel that i could be here forever, at one, in this very spot. In this very spot. Then i know, this is where i am meant to be in this moment. This is the spot i came to, this was my destination for the day.


looking over no name

I stay for a while, a quietude coming over, the sounds of nature, its music, filtering in. The creek drowning out all negative thoughts, all thoughts, for a moment we join. The container of the canyon nurtures me, embraces me. Soon, i know it is time to go back, and i am now refreshed and revitalized. Now i am ready to emerge.

looking above and beyond the canyon

I descend. I am now travelling in the same direction as the creek. I am going with the flow and i am in flow. I look up and more guardians in stone appear on the rocky mountains and i thank them for looking over this place. The trees are more vibrant, and a large butterfly almost flies into me. I look down, and many tiny violet butterflies float and dance around my feet, encircling me, calling to me. As i head back, they appear many times, singing the song of new life. as i emerge from this canyon, i feel a new life inside, and for the moment, leaving behind the fears and feelings that often have no name.


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Eugene –

I have returned to Eugene – that hippie town. And in many ways it is. And today i like it here – feel comfortable and not out of place, blending in with so many around. So different from seaside where i just was. The sun shone and i walked along the river through the parks and along the multitude of bike/walking paths that cover this town – or small city i should say. The river much higher than on any of my previous visits and the rock i had liked to sit on was underwater. Still i found one bench and then another, and watched the river flow and people jogging and biking along, some saying hi one their way past. And on the way down i passed the rose garden, so fragrant at this time of year – the first time i have been here when the roses are in bloom. I am still tired and my writing somewhat forced, but today i felt more alive than in a while. My mind abuzz with concepts of measurement and perception and consciousness.

Sunday was different. The day was grey, and it was this first time in a long while that i got soaking wet as i walked along – my pants drenched and sticking to my thighs and this is what i wrote:

I am now back in Eugene and the rain is still here and am in the grey zone once again – the ruts in the circle are getting deeper, carved into the mud, the familiar paths get packed down hard and so that the walls appear to grow and are harder to climb over for with the mud you slip back down, and harder to see beyond – all i know is that there must be a beyond, but with the walls that surround it is getting so much more difficult to imagine what may lay there. And with the rain that covers my glasses all seems but a damp blur. And my feet get stuck in the mud.

I spent the day at the library and the rain gave way to mere grey. I found a book, one of several that i had brought over to my comfortable seat, and read it from cover to cover. I like this library, one of my favorite with plenty of comfortable seating and so many books that appeal to me – for the collection in smaller cities reflects the type of town it is – and in many ways the type of town i could fit into – maybe. And there is a cafe with cheap coffee which you can take upstairs as you read and a book exchange in the lobby for those without library cards. In many ways it is the centre of downtown, beside the transit centre, a place where a diverse group comes to visit, and the block in front where the street kids – many seem to be more delinquents – still try to gather – now with limitations on the behaviour there.

I stay in the Whiteaker neighborhood, the most granola and artsy of them all – small older houses, many a bit run down but with cachet – or more – some painted in wild colours – purples and pinks and blues and orange with creative art of bicycles and found objects dotting many porches and lawns. The neighborhood is treed like much of the city and the streets with the uneven sidewalks are dark at night. During the day, you see the art, creative gardens – some small overgrown lawns, and few plain tended ones. A short walk to downtown, and in or nearby, cafes with reasonable prices and organic or other ethnic food, small bars, health food stores, – and with a cheap regular grocery store, 7-11 and so much more. It is the bohemian area of young artists, musicians, activists and other counter cultural types and potheads. In it i appear very straight and conventional. It has its allure but is it really me – twenty years ago perhaps, but i am not sure anymore. Still people often say hi and live their lives and there are nearby neighborhoods, while alternative by conventional standards are not quite so bohemian.

Maybe that is why i feel sad and blocked here, seeing so many youth pursuing their passions – life laid out in front of them – for so many do live in alternative ways – not only the young but also the old. Grey haired women and men of modest means, living simply getting by but seeming to have passion in their lives. But i also see those who have fallen off the edge – not just the hard core street kids of downtown, or the drunks who hang out at red apple recycling bottles to buy more beer, or the grey ponytails with ragged clothes who ride around on bikes and smoke too much weed, but others who seem more like me who let life pass them by or somehow fell away over time and who wander around or sit on porches and those who i do not see who sit behind closed doors. But i see those who work their passions and those who work jobs but still have passions; in stores and elsewhere it is not merely an underclass who works. And while the highways circle the downtown core, there is decent public transportation and so many who get around by bike.

Yes, there is the yuppie element as well on the other side of down – the boho types with progressive green values but where class is apparent in every way. And there is the closing in against the street kids, many who are but teens, in the downtown core. But here, there seems to be truer acceptance and openness to a multitude of lives. The live and let live ideal seems to be more of a reality here. There is the student zone by the university, with frat houses and excitement over the wins and losses of the Ducks, and there are so many “regular” people too. And poverty and hard drug areas as well – and of course the suburban “sprawl” with malls and big box stores. i wonder how much overlap there is between the worlds or if they are pockets unto themselves – for i not clearly fit any category.

There is much here that i value – the library, events, parks and cafes – and that it is a city but one that moves at a slower pace and the friendlier atmosphere. And like with previous visits i have thought of trying to stay here – though now i realize for the summer only for i don’t believe i can do a winter of the northwest grey. I put out some feelers, ran a housing wanted ad on craigslist, looked at a place and made so calls but nothing seems to fall into place and the fears and low self esteem rise up further and further again. And this weekend is graduation, and the town is booked up and will be time to move on.

For it makes me face just how far i have fallen, and wonder if i can claw my way out. Competition for work is fierce and i am old and worn out, and for housing it can be tough as well – and so much done by word of mouth and connections in this smaller town. I see a few others with their lists and letters of references, something so demanded that i cannot show – and it eats at me – not only the necessity and practicality but also the hurt that i don’t have people to say i’m great and am reminded of how i’ve screwed up. Never done a bad job – in fact i have been told so many times my work is good or paid rent late, but i have had trouble fitting in and getting along with others so many times – and been cast out. And tears run down my face as i write this down as i think of the pain all that has caused and feeling ashamed and all alone and as an outcast. And i shake as i write this, snot drips from my nose, and i can barely see my way through the tears. And then i run again.

This feeling has been with me for years, and i have fallen more and more over time and am reminded of how far removed i really am. For with housing, i have not had a home or an address for almost 5 years, and really only one in my name for a brief five months since 2001. And my employment history is just as skewed and non-existent, and my last two short positions – one volunteer – did not work out all that well, and the last ended in disaster with me harshly cast out. And while this came up when i briefly tried here 2.5 years ago, since that time i have only fallen further and deepened the ruts that hold me in.

And so i will probably move on tomorrow or so to who knows where. i get more and more tired as the ruts get deeper but i do not know how to climb out. And where to go – i dont know – and i have not for years – for there is no place for a person like me, no place to go. and this is how i have felt my time in the northwest over the past several years – but i keep coming back and fail to pass through, bringing up only more tears.

While there is so much wonderful about Eugene – and other towns i have been in – it is dark cloud that comes up and hangs on all too tight. And while much is not the place per se – for it happens in almost any place i think i might want to stay – and to be honest here is not the top of my list – but how much longer can i keep going on. Will i end up in the type of place where i truly do not wish to be?

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Today finds me back in seattle and the rains continue to pour down. This morning and last night i sat on Vashon and felt i could crawl inside no more. But then this morning i felt like i wanted to stay to spend some time meditating and healing the self, but two large groups were coming in for the weekend, one taking over the barn with all of its common space, and the other was large and would fill the other inside. So i decided to leave rather than spend time out in the teepee in the rain. Though i wish to reach out and connect, being a lone individual in a hostel or places full of groups generally leads me to feel more lonely as they are connected and you are outside.

So i left the solitude of the place and am back in the city for one night, but felt disconnected and off kilter, trying to figure out where to go. And that is where i am, in decision zone, neither here nor there or anywhere, but retreating into a now panicked mind, for this hostel is booked up tomorrow and i am drawing a blank on future connections and nothing calls me forth. and i think i am emptied out. I have reentered that stressed out nervous zone of the body and mind, not focused, jittery energy but not alive. This is a nervousness that has been upon me many times before, when planning, when neither here nor there, when the bubble is still around but the inside is not still.

I did not let go of places and that is why i am still here – stuck in this rut. I had alaska on my mind since i arrived in back the USA, and though i knew i did not want go to there, i did not let it go and it consumed space that could have been used to bring forth a new idea and life. and i am here because i wanted to write about my past journeys instead of continue the journey forward and beyond. and how many times have i not let go gently of what lay behind, i bring the strings with me, caught up in the web, and then when i can stand it no longer, i try to destroy what has held me bound, will i learn just to move on and if i am truly to return, to return and if not to just go on when a place still is dear to me. for now, i want to leave the northwest, but i cannot see how to move out.

this morning i thought live for the now, don’t be imprisoned by the past. But my mind now wanders into old ruts, and old patterns as storms gather all around. that was yesterday now, and i spent the night tossing and turning barely awake, still not knowing what to do. And this is the nervousness that is destroying me. I went into the smoking room, and the devil was playing there, so much dark energy around, people drinking and getting high, and it makes me fear that i will sink down. For i see the down of indecision and impasse. I sit in a cafe writing unable to eat the breakfast they provide, and just don’t know how much longer i can survive. for my mind takes me back on down the coast, alternatives shut off and i don’t know what to do. Can i move on, or did i blow the chances, all those times i have not let go.

the day is grey, rain threatens again – where is the summer time that is due to come? i ask myself should i have stayed with the huge groups and i know the answer is no, but that is how i do not let things go. i think of the south, california and beyond, for that was the last place i was content, but i also spent much time off kilter there. the last time i felt alive, and talked with others and that is what made the place. And while i wanted to move beyond the bubble the stillness of the country rain, now i want to crawl back in again – for the bubble still surrounds, but it is no longer a calm friendly place. Lord, please help me today.

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She spoke her truth, something i have not done. The auditorium in the library was full at first, people trying to find a seat, some to hear the speech, and others just to get out of the rain, but willing to listen to what was being said. The talk was billed as what is the message that the UFOs have for us now. I was curious and i wanted to hear. She talked about visits,of life on other planets, a new teacher for the new age of Aquarius that has come upon us, of crop circles, of different levels of matter, of cover-ups and more, of sharing, of the group she was with SHARE International, of poverty and nuclear waste and while most of what she touched upon made sense it was brought together in what i thought was an incomplete way, one that was forced. 

The audience began to lose interest, and as many removed their energy and attention, i could see her face become duller and her voice begin to sink. but she carried on. And while few probably took her message as a whole, she may have opened minds, and lines of possibility in many. Yes, one man muttered, she is wrong, she is wrong but she spoke what she believed. 

Yesterday, as i went walking, i met two older women on their Jehovah Witness rounds – there was no answer at the door of the home they were knocking on when i walked by, so one of the women spoke with me, offered me a guide to the bible, which i took, and then another booklet which she went over, and which i read. We talked a bit, she asked me if i lived here, and i said no, i am a bit of a gypsy. She smiled and said i used to travel alot, rode the greyhound across and over the land. And i could tell, she had lived, and perhaps lived hard, she wore a dress but it was probably used, and her teeth exposed much gold. Yet, she went door to door proclaiming and sharing what she believed was the way, sharing the message she felt that she was meant to give. While there is much in the Jehovah witnesses beliefs that i believe are constricting and short-sighted, at times their pamphlets have led me to think and question and taken me to the bible and to life questions that are important. And while many may deride them, they carry on. 

And as i write this i think of the man who has stood for years at the cable car turn around at powell and market with his jesus loves you sign. He comes every day to share what it important and to fulfill his mission. 

I write this on Easter Sunday, and i think of jesus, who spoke gods work and did not run away or back down from his call and purpose on earth. Who stepped out of the bounds in the land where he lived, and was persecuted for what he did and preached, who died on the cross for our sins. Who believed, and died for it – and yes, rose again, and whose spirit lives on. And i think what if he backed away or down, or changed his message of god’s love in order to be acceptable? And what if the apostles had clung onto their day jobs and not followed him, for fear of safety, for fear of leaving what was known – or if they had only partially followed – one step forward, two steps back? 

What is Mary did not believe in angels, and could not hear the voice who told her about the child she carried, and lived as a single mother cast out for the child she carried. Or if she did not trust the voice, and dulled herself with drugs, prescription or otherwise, to block out the wisdom from a higher source? What if no one heard their voices and dismissed them as delusions or oral hallucinations. If Paul did not hear his call, and if so many prophets dismissed their prophesies and left them silent. 

I think about the talk today, and how many have been persecuted for talking about UFOs, crop circles and more, have been silenced or have been told they were crazy, and how many others have not believed in their own experiences. for we have been taught not only to disbelieve what we cannot see on the material plane (out of the belief that the material is all that is real) but have also learned not to believe what can be seen, and by more than one. And I think of those who have experienced some of this and have not known how to interpret or be with what they have experienced, and have let it go, or not known what to do. 

And i think of the energy that has been pulsing through me, of the inklings i have had, the visions and the knowings that have come over time, and that i have not embraced, have feared because they were out of the norm. Energy flows in spurts, there is more than meets the eye. A change is coming, we do not truly know when or what it will entail, and there are many around who believe. To follow the knowings, yet share and love in this dimension and not be afraid to embrace what i am being shown. 

I think the issue is that i have held on, and i have not let go. And why – fear of the unknown, fear of being cast out, fear of taking a stand, fear of being deemed crazy, fear of going over the edge. And i look around the room, and see many who have fallen over the edge. I think of my other fears – fear of homeless, fear of the street, but what really do i have to lose?, The reason that i, and others, have lost it all, is not because we let go but because we have hung on to what we knew to be not true, and were afraid to listen. And i will listen with open ears. 

I am in a city with a diversity of lives, ideals and more but also with the concrete blocks the focus on the material, on shopping, on matter. It is a city where many have come throughout time to live out their lives, breaking the boundaries and limitations that held them caged. And i know that there is more than meets the eye, and at times i feel that here has become part of the old, part of the limitations of the material only realm, of staying safe in the world we know. Then i think of the financial district, and the economy, and all they deal with are blips on a screen, the currency of our collective belief, not backed up by anything concrete or tangible. And of communications, of silicon valley nearby, and how we communicate with disembodied others through space and time. 

The lecture took place in the main library with its collection of books and more, a collection of ideas, beliefs, stories, myths, information, data, and knowledge. it is one of the few public places where all may gather, may come to sit and read and explore. it is a place of many voices, written, spoken, muttered, and inside heads – a place where many come in off the street to connect and sit and read. And while there is so much knowledge and wisdom not contained in books, available from the universe at large, i wonder where we would be if people had not pushed through with new knowing, had not pushed through the unknown, had not pushed through through disbelief and doubt, with that which should not be spoken or written, with that which may not be complete or absolute or that which might even be heretical. 

And i think of the woman who spoke today in the auditorium, and the woman yesterday by knocking on doors, and the many who speaks through a sign on the street. They are all speaking of a higher calling, in the manner that is available. Their truths may be incomplete, and contain much which is false, but the speak out and follow their call, a higher call. And for the moment i have spoken my piece, which is partial and changeable and maybe no one will hear, but i have put it out. 

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In the past days i have come upon at least two references to the renaissance man, the one who is interested in and studies a vast array of subjects, exploring the world, multi-faceted, multi-talented. Someone with a broad mind that is alive and curious. I came upon this in a novel i am reading, and in a reference down on cannery row in Monterey, when i was internally bemoaning the superficiality of the place. And then i began to think – how limited i am and how shallow my interests can be. On how in the past few weeks i have explored little, become bored by what is, and in doing so closed myself off.
I wondered if it is because i am returning to places i have once been, and had done all the exploring i wished to do. But there is always so much more. The person who can always find wonder in a back yard, a city block, a small town or a plot of land. And even on my adventures, i have really not been all that adventurous – not curious to see what is around the corner, or what really happens in a place, or who that other person really is.
But back to my recent time, back in the us of a. In Monterey this time i wandered, and did not see out, did not interact with life around, walked and observed without really seeing, putting my impressions onto all. I looked upon that which was around slightly askew and cynical – judging and categorizing though i tried not to. I went to the malls, and rode the bus, and walked along the water, and did try a few samples of the clam chowder on the wharf but i did not really engage – lose myself in the moment.
The previous visit, two years ago i explored more – the first walk along the waterfront, and the second, when it was new and magical, wondering about the plants that grew along the shore, the ones that made me sneeze, watching the harbour seals who balanced upon the rocks and gathered upon the beach.
On the previous visit i took the grapevine bus, up into the carmel valley, thinking i would do some wine tasting, not realizing the snob appeal, and the upper crust, how expensive it would be, and how you would be treated i If you were alone and dressed more poorly, not about to buy an expensive lunch or bottles of wine. And then i became disillusioned, especially waiting for the bus back to town that did not show and hanging around on a corner with the mexican workers for more than an hour until the bus did come.
And i explored the galleries and the shops in Carmel – one with impressive nature photos, but many filled with art for sale, that which would look good on a living room wall. But i wandered by the cute cottages, and tree lined streets and marveled at the white sand on the windy beach . This time i saw the sand that was white, but noticed the wind, and did not look around, feeling that i knew what i would see and thus closed my eyes to possibilities.
And the last time, was the first time i saw the coastline of Big Sur – took the bus down and back, had a coffee – even then did not go for a hike, more concerned about getting back than seeing what was around. But did not do it again – for it was now someplace i had been – the time before was before the drive down all the way a few weeks later with my father, puttering along, so slow on the twisty road, clenching my teeth out of fear and frustration blocking all the cars that went behind – stressed at something that was meant to be enjoyable. And it ws before, further down the coast, being left in a campground, hitchhiking out, after robert left to look at the ocean (in oregon), of walking and sitting looking at the ocean feeling both bliss and pain. And it was before getting a lift from a fellow camper all the way up in the pelting rain, stopping for an overpriced coffee and getting drenched, So if i had gone down there again it would not have been with fresh eyes, but a walk down memory land.
The last time on the way back from Big Sur i stopped at point lobos as the sky was turning, as it did too on Sunday, and walked in the wind, and felt the waves crash upon the shore. I never did make it to the aquarium.
Instead i spent too much time at the hostel, and ended up at Cannery Row just down the block more often that i wished, eating boring chain Subway sandwiches – not curious to find other cheap food.
And i looked at those walking and shopping and talking about when and where to eat, and realized that i was really no different. Where is the curiosity of my mind, body and soul. I looked at those who kayaked upon the water, those who were scuba diving, and those who were engaged. I thought of the flowers i passed and smiled at but whose names i do not know, whose growth patterns and origins and more i do not know, and of the rock formations, the layers jutting up, and i wondered how they were formed but did not inquire, and how little curiosity i have displayed, and how limited my experiences have been though they have taken place in many locales. And how i have been caught up in the me and wondering what i should do, instead of just letting interests guide me with enthusiasm and branching off where they lead me – developing and following a passion.

Is it that i lack curiosity or that fear holds me back – afraid to go out and explore as i do not know what i will find. And so i find myself in the same old places.

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I head back
and i feel the vision that has been haunting my return
it had not spoken much while i was away
but it now comes back full force
and fills me with fear
and i though i was going somewhere safe

it is the vision of homelessness
that has been with me for so long
for that is what i am
and have been
and i feel the streets calling
and i remember the darkness of those places
and i remember the empty souls that stagger along
and i do not want to go
though the image comes to my mind
has off and on for years
and i cannot let it go
it comes calling strongest
when i am to return
like the time i came back
first from Mexico
then from Europe
i want a place to rest my head
i want to go home
i feel like i have been moving for too long
and once i return i cannot stop
for without a home
you cannot stay
cannot linger
or even sit on a bench
and i do not want to be dark
i want to be light
but i am tired
and i feel the stress return
the back seize up once again
no place to stay
move along, move along,
lord i want a place to be
where my soul can be free.

I edit this now,

i said i would no longer resist
if it is my place i will accept it
embrace it

I see the poor here
frayed shoes carrying babies
selling trinkets in the square
the old man sitting on the street
hands out

And maybe it is not just my return that haunts me
but a visitation to a land with the disposseses
a richer country
other places were truly poor
but there was not the gap
those who seem to be alone
looking on to the festivities
there but not there
and here i watch my money
so low
and do not sit on the square
and i feel it so.

But i have felt my call
to work with those who do not belong
and maybe it is time to answer the call

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Antigua is becoming like another fishbowl, a small lovely town of cobblestone streets, restos and cafes, of churches and ruins – and it is comfortable and feels secure. I wander around, at times though feeling that i am in a cage, pacing. But it has the comforts and to an extent the familiarities i have desired – part of me wanted to go home, and this is as close to it as it has come. But, like with many places i feel that something is missing – i sleep in a comfortable bed – spending more than i should 13 for a private room – i eat well, i have time to write, and i eat different foods. It is like the much needed but very long sleeps i have had, i lay in bed in that in between zone in the morning, comfortable in my dream world, not wanting to awake, to crawl out – and here the days start later – i sleep until 8 or 9 – the cooler mornings here are chilly, and the heat of the day not as intense – so there is less of a need to get out early. And as i pace the streets here, i also do not want to leave, to venture forward, captured in the comfort zone.

But i see the hills and volcanoes that surround the city, the green expanses that claim me – but i cannot walk up there alone – it is not safe – too many armed robberies. And while i have been in several colonial towns where you can climb the volcanoes i have not wanted to – or do i just resist. All walks here involve a tour with a guide and a police escort for security. And there are so many tour agencies in town offering not only transport, but guided climbs, tours to coffee and macademia nut farms, but i crave the green ad become overwhelmed by the choices, too many to choose from, just take a pick i know, but do i really want to climb up there.

And i do not know why i resist the necessity of a guide and a police escort for throughout my life i have wanted a guide, someone to hold my hand and show me the way as i venture out of my comfort zone into new and unfamiliar territory, someone to guide me and help me along the way, and yes to protect me from the dangers that might be lurking out there, not to walk blindly, not really knowing what i am doing, but pretending to be sure and more confident than i am, feeling that i am supposed to know what i do not. Feeling lost and alone much of the time. Where the pressure is to stay safe, a return shuttle offered, but not a guide along the way. Do i resist because i am just too accustomed to doing it all on my own, of having no other choice. But do i really want to climb the volcano, to hike up there, al long climb that is more the feeling that i should than a want of my own – or maybe not – it is what you are supposed to do in these places. How to venture out to other places? I look at the one cross up i a park just off the edge of town, but you cannot go there alone – no guided tours from what i see. Or do i just head out to the lake that has claimed my imagination, where i have wanted to go for a long time – book one of the many shuttles there – and how to chose, more decisions to make, yet, i yearn to see it.

And so many tour agencies, some legit, some less so, and to make a choice is so hard – i become overwhelmed, my mind begins to swim. And the language schools here – so many over 50 i believe, of all ranges of quality – do i want to study here of elsewhere- do i want to spend my days learning spanish – yes, i want to learn and study but history and geography and spirituality and change – to join with others in that pursuit, but i do not know how. And how to negotiate my way through the maze of choices, of schools, of destinations i do not know how.

But have learned to do it on my own, taught that i must do it on my own, and here is a place that i cannot walk out on my own – travel the country yes, and meet and join with others. I will go back out, check out the market and more, come back to write and decide on what is next.

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As i travelled through Nicaragua, and then passed through a poor corner of Honduras and then El Salvador i began to understand the ¨tica mentality¨a bit more – i know i generalize here, but the feeling that i had in Costa Rica was different, a country that prides itself on being middle class and peaceful and in many ways it is. When i was there i sensed an underlying conservatism, not in the sense of right wing at all, but in the sense of playing it safe. And it does that in my mind. But the people there seem to be aware of how good they have it compared to their neighbours, and are grateful for what they have, something that i think we have often lost in North America, for we know no different than the life we have had. There a focus on the dailyness, yes the family which we lack, and on simple consumption, but knowing that they are much better off than the neighbours to the north and south, acutely aware of it ‘ though poverty exists – ive read about 20% or so of the population ‘- about the same as in ¨the north¨ they do not focus on it – perhaps a blind eye, for it is not as bad as elsewhere, and they have education, healthcare etc – things that are not blindly taken for granted. And there is peace – and has been for a while – not the wars and conflicts and dictatorships that have plaqued its neighbors, and an awareness of it. In North America we have know life without war on our lands for so long we take it for granted. There is an appreciation for what they have.

And much of the land is preserved, not deforested or stripped away, much sold to tourism, but i guess thats the price to pay.

But there is also the feeling of being under seige – of crime and gangs in the cities where most people life, of no-go zones, (like in some places in the usa) and an economy in trouble, where ends are harder to meet, work hard and long, but can you make do, can you hang on. And much of the land is now for sale, not a bubble, for the world is global and a crisis in one land hits another, as the gringos try to sell the homes they can not longer afford, and neither can the locals.

But while there is a clinging and a consumer mentality, there seems to be an appreciation for what has been achieved. An appreciation us northerners do not always know.

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I started this entry a week and a half ago. I have changed countries and the unease continues – i limit myself, stick to the centre and the tourist places, limit myself and my journeys. I stick out, solo gringa, for all  to see – and while i am a poor gringa i am a rich nica, and i see eyes of resentment upon me. I fear, and that limits me and consumes me, i create a shell around myself, a small world, and am hesitant in all. This is what i wrote in Costa Rica and i have experienced it since, in a sleepless night in Montuzuma, in walking a few empty streets in Liberia with all my stuff, and here in Granada, as i leave the tourist zone and i dont like feeling this way – for i limit my boundaries, and do not reach out. Try to plan a trip so i do not need to cross Managua at all, for all one hears about is crime, and maybe even taxis are not to be trusted. People are friendly, and it is not healthy to approach others with distrust, it eats away at the soul. I do not venture out, sit in courtyards, in restos in the interior safe spaces. There was a brief break from this feeling in the national parks in costa rica, especially in Monteverde, where i got over this fear when on the trails alone, and could commune with something larger. And i long for the places where i used to camp alone, walk down the two lane highway, beaches, or trails by myself, and explore the corners of the towns. The places where i would feel sure and confident – even though that would be an illusion and others would sometimes ask are you not afraid. And the answer was generally, not really, maybe a bit but it feels fine. Here i fear, and how much is real and how much is me – like in Alaska where i did not hike much because of my fear of the bears, and looked behind my back.

When fear increased in the US after 911 i used to poo-poo it, and much of that fear that was put forth was a scare tactic – and how much of what i hear here is, and how much is real caution. But what is real is the way it eats at you, and changes you. It is not a definite fear, it gnaws at you slowly not one large bite, away of your surroundings. If nothing else i understand this feeling that others have had, i feel it. But i do not know how to move beyond it. And yes, i have this feeling in other areas of my life – the anxiety about belonging, trying new things, being accepted, and maybe some of that that i had slowly moved beyond, i thought, has come back in another way, to remind me. Yes, i have moved beyond my comfort zone – can i make this it, or do i run back to the zone that is familiar and comfortable. will it ever be here?

Well here is the entry that i wrote

I tossed and turned last night, unable to sleep, thinking about this place and moving on – about travel and safety. About safety and security and fear. And here i feel unsure, i watch myself, my belongings, i do not walk after dark. I have felt this fear in myself and in others and i do not like it. Where i am now is safe, or safer, a tourist enclave, but still signs everywhere not to leave your belongings unattended.
Yesterday i met a guy who had been mugged his third day in quepos, the owner of the hostel where i stayed in san jose – a native tican (though blatantly gay) had been mugged the night before i got there – and the muggings were not just give me your money – but violent – the first had 7 stitches in his foot, and the latter had bruised ribs. Both were alone at night coming home from bars but still. I miss the safety of my native lands, of being free to come and go as i please, to poo-poo the fear that others have, to camp alone and walk alone and hike alone.
And here the road to the beach twists and turns, narrow with no shoulder, and is unsafe to walk, not out of human danger during the day, but with cars, i walked on monday when the park was closed and the traffic light, but it is crazy. Not like the roads in orosi, also narrow, but with less traffic and mainly local and accustomed to locals walking on the side of the road.
And here places are not barred and gated. Yet it seems like a bit of an illusion. Maybe it was my first arrival in the country coming into Alujeala after 10pm, when all was shut, metal sliding grates like in New york cover all the shops, bars on windows and compounds. It was quiet, too quiet.
And there is talk of crime everywhere – some of it country vs city folk, in orosi and environs, actually everywhere, talk of crime in the capital, the tican on the bus warning about crime in Jaco – the drugs, prostitutes, and gangs, the beach in quepos apparently filled with crackheads – much like in america, but so often i have felt safe, now i feel the unease.
And costa rica has been a safe country, not the history of wars in places that surround, and maybe that is what it is, building compounds and walls, abolished the army in 48, no wars. the water is safe to drink.
but this fear, is this what it is like so many places, i move beyond it, it is random. but i have rarely felt it before.
and is that why people grasp for safety.

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