Posts Tagged ‘musings’

contradictions return

I wake up this morning and feel overwhelmed; as i did last night after my walk around town. I remember why i wanted to leave the last time i was here, and some of the reasons why i was called to salt lake – not what the city was all about but the elements that drove me there – the quiet tree-lined streets, walking a few blocks to a cafe, it feeling more like a settled place – but i know after being there two months that the air hung heavy and i felt trapped, so little around which i felt connected to – but here, as i step out on the border to the tenderloin and union square, into the narrow busy streets, i see why i wanted to leave this zone – the tourist zone i have written of before and that claims me once i am here. and i ask myself, as i have before, can i leave this zone but still be here; can i press on through, have both the exploration and feeling of life, and a base. is this a place where i can not only plant seeds but actually grow roots? And what is behind the mixed emotions that i feel so deep?

For the exploration starts off with a smile, a glory and connection to all that is around, but then as i did the other day, i keep pressing on, and that liveliness becomes fatigue – and i do not write what i had wished, looking for that place to stop; and then when i do i am exhausted, and fall into a deeper sleep; and then i become at an impasse; wanting to move and feeling too tired to do so, the mind muddy again. And these two days are so reflective of my life as of late; or as of long – as of so long; as i burst forth and then crawl in; and how to maintain a balance, where life flows, and plant some seeds, and tend the few that manage to take root.

And i know that the writing and wandering are part of me, and i feel empty when they disappear or i can conjure them up no more and feel fixed and stuck in place; but there is also something else; the need to create and build something up, to join in the creation of the world. here the area is large, or rather dense, in humanity and life, and i become overwhelmed and do not know where or how to start; take a step i know, and i will today, as the sun shines outside, the last sunny day before a period of rain. But to pause and reflect, let the ambiance soak in. The feet move in different directions, and stumble over one another, or pace as i step out and then retreat, and when they move together they keep moving on; over the familiar and the different, the familiar that is different, and the different that is familiar, but to dance to that song; to integrate the various portions and finally to live my call. To explore and report, but with a base; be it physcial or just inside, to write up the deeper reflections i have had on this place and to somehow help create and contribute as well.

But the contradictions return, as they have every time, and this place is a container of thought forms, emotions and other energies is everywhere else; and as i return here, i revisit not only the physical, but all the other realms that are linked to it. nothing is stable, layers are built up over time, and others erode, and like the fault lines that pass by this place, i feel that something needs to give.

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Just what is the collective mythology of a place, and how does it influence our lives? Just what aspects of the story are called up and influence what we become? What parts are manifested in the three-dimensional realm – and of those, which are maintained, transformed or destroyed? How aware are we of the myths and stories that lay behind that which we see? Often there are many stories, built upon one another, fragmented, disconnected but joined. Which ones are part of us? Just what is the common thread and how do we draw it into our todays, continuing it forth onto the tomorrows? What parts do we hang onto, tell over and over again, although what may be present in the here and now is but a blurry faint remnant of what was? When do we build upon it, and when do we let go? How does it affect us – though the story may be unknown – as we interact with what was created as part of the story itself? How does knowing the story alter our perceptions of what is here now? Is the story we hear the story in and of itself, or rather one of many that took place? How much of the story originated in other places and other myths that have been transported to this place? when does the story become agreed upon, and help form the mythology of a place, or a person for that matter?

Today i went on a walking tour of market street, one of the many given for free by the city guides – a volunteer organization that gives walking tours of many locales in the city. I have been on these before, in previous times here a few years back, and have written a bit about them before. While this tour was not as inspirational as some, and the skies let loose with rain before it was done, the questions above are many that came to mind. Questions that i have pondered here, and in other locales, so many times before. Questions i have asked not only about physical locales, but about myself. In this place both the collective and the personal mythologies intertwine – but really, does that not happen everywhere? But here is a place where the mythology runs deeps – not only on a collective, but on a personal realm.

Now Market street is definitely not one of my favourite places in the city, and if i lived here, i doubt i would often venture here. But as a visitor, staying nearby, it is a place i often find myself. It bisects the city, and is part of its story, and although not part of what drew me here, has somehow become part of mine as well. And with any street or locale, it has had its ups and downs, and what is visible today includes so many slices of the past; and what is here today is the now upon what the future will be built. and in the building facades so much is mixed and intertwined, and so much is dependent on what you look at.

But to the story that was told today. one of the guides talked about places having a different feel and ambiance, and having spent two months in a place that felt so different, i could relate to it; and it was he who talked of the stories that form a place, and how a place begun. San Francisco as a place that was once isolated and small, that exploded into life with the gold rush boom – of immigrants from far and wide, mainly young men who came here, searching riches and their dream – of a rough and tumble beginning, that somehow became this place.

Now the gold rush has fascinated me in many other locales – Victoria for one, where i spent so much time, and studied the history, and how the town became transformed, in my time spent there, and in heritage interpretation and tourism classes. And in Seattle, the Yukon and Alaska – how the rush for gold, that shiny metal, transformed so much of the land around. And the gold rush is one of the stories of many of the places i’ve been and i have wondered how much of that mythology has somehow been a part of my path – not the long journey over arduous terrain, to get to a place that is unknown, but the dream of finding riches of gold buried in the ground, the riches that for most were never found, and for the lucky few, the riches never lasted long. but the dream of finding that piece of gold that would somehow magically transform your life. And while so many lives were transformed, it was the journey, the chances taken, and the hard work that altered the path of their lives. And i wonder, if somehow i have been dreaming of that figurative piece of gold, easy for the taking in a cool stream, if only i knew where to look. But as with many, that is not the way the journey has taken place. Still, the rough and tumble beginnings, of seeming impermanence, laid a ground for this place, and the many myths that grew from it -the young men from around the globe, staking a claim not only on a plot of ground but on a new life of their dreams. and i remember this story played a part of my many decisions to move away from this place, to a land whose mythology was more closely tied to the spirit, but now i find myself back here.

As we went along, other myths and stories were told; the building up of the street – by the businessmen and industrialists and financiers who lived on another dream; the rebuilding of the city after the infamous earthquake and fire of 1906 – saying we will stay and build our future here, of the redevelopment of market street in the 80s after a period of decay (though you walk further down the street and it becomes a different place – still battered down). The financial district and the more industrial times still can be seen, the land that was reclaimed from the sea and that which has been built upon sand, the linking of two areas that were built on completely different grids laid out on different measurements and thus ways of seeing the world. The diversity in the current architecture,the old and the new intertwined, of old building facades remaining, a decision to preserve reminders of what was, transformed inside or fronting new towers that have been built up behind; and it begs the question of what do we keep and what do we tear down, all reflective of the values and visions that we have.

This tour did not cover many of the other stories that form part of what we call the city – the beats along columbus street, the hippies in haight ashbury, the gays and lesbians in the castro, the once thriving chinatown and so many more – those stories that have been told time and time again – that are linked more closely to mine – of those who came here to be themselves as a place they could be free, and it is so related to the myth of go west young (wo)man, to a place where you can be you. And there are so many other stories here both told and untold, of which i am either unaware, or are not at the forefront of my consciousness.

I wonder what myths are currently building up – those of which we are unaware – for it is often only later that the story comes together, the themes are recognized, that the fragments of notes are integrated into a meaningful whole – or more truthfully, another recognizable part of the while. what is being built right now – what story is being written? Not only for the city itself, but for my relation to it. Is it one of happy times, just temporary, like all those others on vacation here. Just what story have i written over these past several years, and how does this story relate to the larger whole – of the one i call myself, and the all of which i am a part? And have i written lines that become part of the larger story of this place we call San Francisco?

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This is a series of entries written over about a period of a month (Aug 4 – Sept 8) when i was at harbin hotsprings – when i remained in a singular place geographically but went to many places within. I post this from outside Yosemite park, at a hostel where i ended up after leaving there the last time as well. There, like here, like the park itself, is located in a valley, and in valleys i tend to turn within. often when i stop for long i do as well.    

I had been hesitant to go there, and just as hesitant to leave. I stayed longer than i planned, in fact longer than the 30 days one is allowed – but managed somehow to be allowed to stay. and while as always i had one foot out the door for there is one side of the place that seems devoted to hedonistic sex that i cannot stand, there is also much that appeals to me and calls me forth, not just the physical things, or the pools or the classes or the land (for the land in and of itself does not speak strongly to me) but many of the people who are so kind, who have a light inside, and i know that i sometimes do or could to. And at times i wanted to stay and apply for residency but then a “no” came up – was it the focus on the body as a temple there – and as i have written before i feel it is misguided, but i also know i wish to learn and get in touch with its wisdom and the wisdom of the energy bodies that we are, but also the soul,was it the “pot culture” that existed on the smoking deck and is endemic to northern california, was it the underside of the place (but is there a place without one) or was it because i was afraid, and truly believed that i would not be welcomed – a fear i have almost every place i wish to join. And i did not know if i could live in community, even a community that seems false – for most do not live on sight – and if i could always be “on” and good, not having a private place to go – to live, play, work, grow in a singular place overwhelms, for although i say i do not wish to hide, i become afraid when i fear there is no place to do so.    

So i went to san francisco finally leaving harbin, to a place where it is hard to stay – another place part of me loves (and part of me does not know what i would do there or how i would ever manage to stay), and to here, a place i know that i am not meant to stay. And i still do not know if it was a real ‘no’ or if it was a fear for i did not try. i did not feel that i would be acceptable or good enough and it is not a place where today you can just slip in (though apparently it was once). there is a formal application procedure, and a trial, and both of those overwhelm for i feel totally alone, that there is no one to say that i am good, i cannot provide the references required – but they are required everywhere. And that is it – the sadness and pain comes up when i don’t have anyone who will speak out for me (but then again, have i asked). And i think of my history, so long since i have been stable – and wonder if i had applied the first time i went – a year and half ago – but then, there were fewer places where i feel that i messed up – where i could not get along with people. but if they were my people, my energy matrix, could i? i want to believe that i could. But since then i have left indralaya, their sister – Sierra Hotsprings, the eugene whiteaker hostel, all without joy – i did good work – i know – but did not belong – and showed the shadow sides of myself. All because at each place i did not feel stable, did not feel like part of the community, and at sierraville, when i tried to make a stand, i was cast out, alone. or did i leave and run? Still, i remember walking down that road alone, not a goodbye, not a lift to town when they passed me by, and the hurt lingers on, but is it a hurt i brought with me, one that i carry around, from place to place. And i left Harbin alone – and i ask myself why.    

So i never applied, and by the time i left i was glad to leave. felt unwanted and like a burden to the place – so many so kind to me for a while – but did i just take and not give. For i want to give, not of the darkness inside, but of the light. But i felt if i even applied, i would be laughed out, who do you think you are that you would be accepted here? Just what makes you think that you would not be just a dark splotch once again? But i can be light, when i feel secure and wanted – or at least i think for i have never felt accepted and i do not know what community is. What does it feels like to belong? And i know there have been place i have wanted to more and have felt cast out, and where i feel that i do not belong, at least without hiding away and trying to become something i am not, i cast myself out.    

I write this entry from a place i do not feel that i belong, where i do not really wish to, for i do not feel the connection in what i value. And it is time to leave. And i do not wish to wander, i do not wish to hide, but i wish to contribute to the joyous dance of life. And as i reflect, maybe i did not belong, or do i tell myself that? Just what is the truth? For i know i need healing but also to give, and is there a place that i can do both simultaneously? A base from which i can grow?    

What is in the mirror that i do not wish to look at? Just what is it that stares me back that i “cannot” face but i must, for it is in my own face. And just what is it that i fail to see? The veils layered deep. 



And i know there is something here, for in my wandering the lord brought me back to this place. a place that at times i yearned for and craved, and at others sought to avoid, but never just let be. and i know it is not harbin per se, but rather harbin as a symbol for something more deep, a manifestation in 3D of lessons i need to learn. There is something about the spiritual path and “alternative” greener life, the self-indulgence, and the social class makeup of this place that i must acknowledge and deal with straight in the face. They are all paths i have been a part of, and need to integrate, but also that have failed me in my quest so as i grab for them, i push them away – and they too have pushed me away – and all are ‘things’ i try to deny in myself. And it is ways of acting and being that have come together in this center seemingly of bliss, hidden away in a higher valley from the world outside and magnifying that within.    

As i sit on the smoking deck- my social office – i look at the mountain across the way, now with dried up brown land under the green oaks and other patched of trees with darker brown leaves, and it stands almost unreal, or surreal, under the bright blue sky – and looks different than it did before, on cloudy days in a wetter season, when i would watch wispy clouds float through it – but it does seem unreal – like a one way mirror – i do not see out of beyond it though the outside (and what is hidden from me) sees in. And with other places, i wonder if this is all but an illusion of the mind – a shared illusion by those who are also here.    

Last time i was here i wrote much of integration, of not throwing away of who i was, but of owning all, and bringing it together in order to move on and through – that letting go was not the same as throwing away – to let it be, to experience life and to neither cling and grasp for something nor to try to force it away or deny it or run away in fear. and has my journey of the last four months been about that – i believe it has – revisiting places and faces of my persona – some that still live in my and others that have faded away. In that process, how much have i done honestly and thoroughly and how much have i shrunk from what i have felt and seen and how much have i been blinded and numbed to still? And there is so much that is murky in my mind and soul, that i need to let out but do not know how and play games of solitaire in between.    

I know i feel judged here – but i also must acknowledge that i do just as much judging myself and often of those i feel that are judging me – and how can i believe that they do not feel my inner critique of them as much as i feel theirs of me? And just as i avoid the judgement and the judgers, how can i expect the judged not to avoid me? But just what is it at the root that i judge    

I see a hard face on a woman, not really directed at me, but i see it and turn my head away and draw my energy inside. but how often so i wear such a face and am totally unaware of it. i know i smile more often than i did, and not infrequently remind myself to, and i know the world responds differently to me when i smile – what expression do i put on here? Is there a reason why i so notice the frowns?    

When i walk down the trail i try to say hi or give someone a smile. sometimes people reply, but other times they look away, but how many times have i done that and just how does it make others feel? And sometimes i feel someone looking at me a if i am in the way, or failing to see that i am there – but how often have i seen others as impediments myself, in the way, making noise, taking “my’ space, or otherwise interfering with my life – or also in competition with me – as if we cannot all be there. but there is more…    

And i have often condemned others for what i sense as a smug superiority, those who look down on others or do not see those of us who serve them or respect us and acknowledge our full worth and ask not how much are we capable of, but set up limit and barriers in our face. But do i now do the same. at times think i know more because i have seen more of the street, led a less sheltered existence so i proclaim (but even that is false for i have always had a buffer, one person to support me which is more than may have – and something i feel guilty about and still wish to hide away – something that others suspect and judge me on i can feel) or have worked bad and dirty jobs (though there are many i have not) and do i really see the whole person who is there – no, for there is much that i do not see. and do i wish to blame them for the breaks that i was not given, though i was given many that they may not have been. and is the blame an excuse to deny the mess i have made of some. No i see them in terms of myself, the same way that they might see me.    


I am not really all that different from many who surround, for despite the nicer richer veils they wear, they are really people imperfect and often in pain as well, and why have i not truly recognized this before – focused instead on the exterior guise. As a teen and earlier on i would often condemn the rose coloured glasses of suburbia, the place where all was “fine” and another good life was lived – a life whose pain was often hidden away behind the walls people built, not only in 3D but in mentality, hiding it all away – and i think of the mothers of mine and some – alcohol, drugs – though those from the legitimate pushers of the pharmaceutical industry, death, depression and more – the fathers seemed absent, but in my group we knew not all was merry, but we could pretend it was so – keep face – we are not like them – our lives are contained and good – and there were people living their lives fully as well, giving and sharing and creating –    

But somehow the veil descended upon me – and i no longer truly saw through th guise – caught instead in the outside apparitions, the costumes that so many wear. for what helps set this class apart is the denial and the games they play – the all is fine – and the better ability to hide all away – to pretend that we are perfect and to expect others to be. and i somehow forgot that truly the separation is an illusion, and a game we play, a game that is such an integral part to the lives – and a game that i could not play, and was thus part of the reason why i was cast outside.    

or that i could not play with others, though i have played it most of my life by myself, and am too messy, not tight or smooth enough – a contradiction in terms i know.    

And unlike those who live life more in the open – on the streets or in tightly packed neighborhoods, who have not garnered wealth or education or the ability to hide the problems away, we are more greatly able to live in the world of illusion, and in some ways it is that illusion that defines the group, and the ability to play the game. And not to call a spade a spade, but to be so healthy and together all of the time. bounds of acceptability remain, and ways to step outside are just as defined – and do not step too far out. but many do, and then pretend, and it is the game we play.    

i think back to some of the women i have met, on the edge just as me, and we avoid each other and pretend, do not reach out and ask for help or share of ourselves and of our stories and of our lives. For then we will not be acceptable.    

And that is why this group dislikes and judges the lower classes, a mirror of what we try to hide away.    

and the sense of superiority that maintains it all    

3) But is it my own perfectionism that makes me read it in all who are around? Is there a greater acceptance at hand than i can see or am willing to acknowledge? Is it me who feels that i need to be perfect in order to be accepted? and do i expect perfection in others in order to accept them? Can i see the kernel of god in all, the light that exists in everyone. for i say i do but that is a lie, one of the many veils i wear.    

and is that why is see the veils in others and am so quick to jump on them. the “pompous superiority” which is often just pretend, but other times it is based on a belief we hold inside, on how good or enlightened we are. but often we are not. Is that why i was so quick to criticize M. in my mind, a fraud i called him, a pretend visionary, so pumped up and full of himself – and as i was reacting, for the reactions were strong, i knew there was something deep stirring inside, something important in the mirror i did not wish to see. for am i not the same way myself, and also though he is imperfect, is he not trying his best, and helping and enlightening others in a certain way. ans caught in many of the quandries in which i find myself – a hypocrite, but am not i, and are not so many of us.    

do i resent those who have truly broken through – or am i drawn to them and their pure shine.    

here we take off the clothes, the veils which we use to cover ourselves, those veils that exist in 3d. but are there not so many more, the veils of illusion and delusion in the mind.    

with the group i was born into many more veils to hide behind – maybe why i believe those who are raw are more real as there is little to hide behind/    

confession – can i state my case, why do i believe i must do it alone.    

4) today is not a day as planned – a day where i have engaged in very few of the harbin things but also a day where i have engaged more and failed to connect – me pulling back and what does that teach.    

i was hungry so decided to treat myself to a breakfast – but did not end up eating alone – talked and joined with someone more out of compassion or was it pity and broke away too so – opened up to give but he wanted too much. and what does it mean to give to someone that way, and when have i asked others to pity me then asked for more than they can give.    

His name was max – from Arkansas – met him yesterday in the reiki healing class. socially awkward and i felt for him though there was something in his eyes that held me back but i could tell that he wanted to reach out and connect – with someone – and i was the person whom he met.    

5) Many days not written – days of movement within the stillness, and stillness within movement. Processes unfolding, elation and depair, but overall a release and a calm even when all is up and down, a trusting in the process, in life, in opening. and releases and tests and connection and alone – an emptying out making space for what is to come, and feeling true joy at times and new sensations in the body as energy flows within, knots loosening, brainwaves changing and the unknowing of what comes next – yet feeling peaceful overall.    

pure joy found me on sunday afternoon in quantum light breath a smile so wide i could not contain it and then a song and i could hear my voice, unmuffled and loud.    

yoga stretching out places – shoulders, hips, even lower back – an freedom today for just a few minutes – a spaciousness i have not felt before – like the first time the shoulders went floppy for just a minute or two.    

free your spirit breath work – a release deep and intense    

and sleep naps on the couch    

6) I feel sad today and just want to be whole – energy is down and off and i feel alone once again. is it the full moon? processing and delving into the past and imagined future out of the now where i am – wanting to let go but wanting to know what it is that i am letting go of – feeling damaged and broken once again – can i not just let go of having to know, just let it pass out of me, to be free of the blockages – to just let them dissolve – but what comes up?    

i feel depleted – time to move on – like i am sinking rather than soaring here – like i am hiding away from life once again – spending more than my allotted time. I want to be happy and full of light – do i need to pass through this place to remove the darkness – can i not just choose the light? what do i have to gain by being here – or is it just another fancy trick to hide?    

i got up late today – no yoga or intensity – spent much of the day on the smoking deck – lost, outside, not full of joy. i feel so lost – but to explore – as with all – am i truly being restructured or is it a delusion i feed myself – but i do feel different and unsure of how to proceed, like the other day when i said i felt like a baby my body often feeling different to me – unfamiliar sensations – open and closed – not knowing what to feed my body ot what it wants and needs    

too absorbed with the self – to reach out connect to the rest of gods creation and to god.    

7) I must face my fears for i know that in part healing has turned to hiding – hiding from actions i must take not yet clearly defined, but ones that will allow me to build a life instead of just merely wander – yes here can be a place to clear and renew but as long as i stay i can continue to play the avoidance game -and yes, feel safe. but how many times have i said that safety is but an illusion – but can i continue to clear out some of the underlying issues that have paralyzed me for so long?    

a tough day and a half or maybe more with the highs gone and tears and self talk coming in – the paranoia creeping in and then taking over in part and i have watched myself crawl into me and my shoulder seize and me become more lifeless as thought forms of fear and of memories and past and daydreams come into play, when i cam not longer here, not present and hard.    

and it was those feelings – not of memories or places i cannot remember, but the emotions that grip me still that cause that as they arise and take over – emotions and fears that hinder me and block me but are not really me – or are they. of issues i must face not – emotions that lead to paranoia and get me in trouble every time – of aloneness, of having no home, of not belonging, of being unacceptable, of having noone who will speak for me or ssay i am good – so i back away and hide and do not take risks and deepen the ruts even more. and they are feelings i try to push away but do not seem to ba able to push through and i must – can i do so y sheer will or by the grace of god – for i can squirm no longer.    


Why is it that i feel like i am hiding here? the truth is that i am. i come to take a break but then it extends too long – and i feel like it is time to get back out and live in the larger world. to contribute and interact and pursue my call though i do not know what it is. and then the fears come up, those things that take over and pull me back – and how to really move through them for it is those energetic forms that lay a claim on me. and i have written the answers or rather some answers so many times before, but i get caught or back away and am not able to move one through – and then they take over and i do not breathe through them and they become what is real and help create the reality outside reality    


I feel that it is time to leave harbin once again. i almost left today on an adventure to mount shasta but backed down. It felt right saying no to an opportunity that began to feel more like a disaster waiting to happen but it was difficult to do. My body felt looser after i told her no, but now i feel exhausted and depleted once again – biding time, that is what i am doing, biding time, passing it away, letting it pass through, drifting away from my dreams, becoming one of the people just hanging out, just hanging out, like those in the smoking room in seattle or in the back yard in eugene, but here i do not work or work trade, just pass the days away. and is that why those places bothered me so, that my life is really no different, not shining or glowing, but just sitting still, and not sitting in blissful meditation or union with all, but sitting, letting the darkness seep on in.    

And i think some of this has to do with my return here this time, and the reasons why i came, though they were so vaque and unclear to me at the time. or maybe because of that – i did not come here for a reason per se, it was no longer to heal or to let go, but a result of letting go, of letting go of dreams, dreams which have not been replaced by newer, truer ones, but that have died, leaving me empty, and into this empty space pouring not joy and beauty and the word of god, but refilling with imagined (or real?) stories of the past, memories or a story i have written, and with the emptiness the sadness can creep on in. is it too much time on the smoking deck, having familiar conversations, getting into the mundane routine of not living fully, of introspection and staring at my navel so to speak for i never have really examined that. is it the ongoing days of nothingness, the only stability a morning yoga class, and perhaps a soak, rest of the time empty, defined by so little. but how to turn this back into joy, to move beyond and out. for was coming here more than a break but a retreat, not the just stepping back into another zone, but retreating, giving up and hiding away, no longer beginning a process of change but halting one, no longer coming to something but leaving something behind, not listening to my heart or soul or inner knowing, but listening to my fears and voices of despair, the ones that say i am afraid, i can’t, and how often have i made that can’t a reality.    

but today i listened to a “no” – a this step is not right for you, and learned to feel it in my body. how often have i confused the “no this is not right” with the “it is so right, but i am afraid, i am scared” and how often have i said yes to the former and no to the latter. and how has it felt after i have made the decision, how has it felt in my body. can i learn to listen and turn off that chattering in my mind, the chattering that tells me that once i have embarked on a path or said what i am doing, that i must go on, or the one that tells me that i am undeserving of what truly calls, that i cannot make it, cannot do it, so i turn to something else, something that may be second or third or fiftieth choice, but i turn away and then i no longer hear. and sometimes i am not sure, and i let myself be led astray, or stay on something that does not feel right but for the moment gives me the illusion of safety or grandeur.    

And i think or my time out on the road, the way i travel around, camping, walking, hitching, travelling alone, and some tell me i am so daring but i do not feel that way, for what i do there is more within my comfort zone, it is familiar and known, not the all, but the actions, and in some ways i do it because i am afraid, i run, i do not face my fears. but at times i also wonder if some of it is my call, and maybe what i interpret as fears are rather big “no’s” but which is which and what is what for i no longer hear my call. what is it that god wants me to do – can i hear and listen at all, for what are temptations, the devil speaking, and what are true calls, what do i enter into out of avoidance of that negative, gnawing voice, and when am i being drawn towards the light?    

I had an imaginary conversation today, one of the many i have in my mind, those that occur when i am not in the here and now, but in another space that becomes much more real, and can in ways manifest itself in 3D. It was about jumping out of a plane, and how one feels fearful the first time (or so i would imagine never having done it myself) but one does it anyways. yes, one may be afraid, and while we all to often feel that we should not be, we are. and that it ok. yes, when we make the leap out into the unknown fear can happen, but to have faith as well, for faith can move you through. But the point was that while jumping out of planes can be a way to help you overcome your fears, it can also be used to avoid them. if you do it instead of say learning to bake the perfect pie that you feel called towards, to avoid that, it can be just that – avoidance – it may broaden your comfort zone, but it you keep on jumping out of planes because it is now familiar, and you are not passionate about doing it, you do it only because it is there and available, then it is avoidance, or it you then take chinese cooking lessons, food writing, fruit growing etc it can be moving you closer to your heart, but it you keep on skirting the area then you still do not get there (this all seemed so much clearer and more elequant in my mind earlier today, and now as i am typing this, something rings false, my joints are becoming condensed once again0    

If one truly hears the heart and the word of god, does fear truly disappear? what would that be like? Can i imagine it? envision it? or just have faith that it is true. i think of my bodily changes, how over the past several months my shoulders have gone floppy a few times, and i never knew they could, i had learned that they could be stuck, or looser or tighter but never floppy, but now the body knows that is possible though it happens rarely, like the hips floppy, or the sacrum, or union with all – not always, or even often, but the awareness that it is possible. and following the call? how i have said no so many times, until now, and now i feel that i am left with nothing.    

I stop to play solitaire, over and over again, and get into that anxious buzzing zone, and realize how it feels and name it and realize ust how addictive and damaging it is.    

Here i retreat, retreat into myself, into that zone in the mind. i become less at peace rather than more as i am drawn to introspection. i focus on the body, but then become divorced, engage in conversations, but little that is deep, spend time in fantasy land, just as when i was settled in eugene and even seaside, but that was at least a board on the internet. on the road i am more present having to deal with the here and now, but past and future overtakes.    


How many times have i said “i can’t”, and how often do i get in the zone of believing it? When do i say “i can’t” meaning “it’s not for me, i don’ t want to or i won’t” – and i have done that so often that i can rarely tell the difference between the two. But how much have i done – and the answer is quite a bit. And i have ended up places and doing things that i put out there.    


I feel a call – to another land – but is my home really here – in this place, on this continent, but still i feel that there is no place to rest my head. and i see how far i have drifted and have lost my call and connection – my connection to the divine and the source of energy that is light, and i call in the light, and the lord. i sat beneath the falls and prayed and sang today, sang a song of angels, sang the voices through, sang the spirit through and i felt lifted and i felt light.    


I tried to leave for several days – but each morning i would feel sick, cry, panic and i knew my body was telling me no. but i heard the comments “are you still here” and turned and cowered and wanted to run. I just want a place where i will be invited in and invited to join, and i wonder if the kindness of some was a way of doing that and i did not see. Still the “are you still here?” hurt for i now realize that i have learned or come to believe over time that the best way i can contribute is to move on – go away, hide away, keep away. And i just want to be asked to join on in, for someone to say, alice, we want you here, here is where you belong, here is where you can shine.    

and being away i have lost that connection to my body and my soul, but i cannot take and not give in return. and i need to believe that someone wants me to give, for i can no longer sit on the edge. And i do not want to descend further into the darkness, that which i see around, and that which lingers within, but i need to bring forth the light and pray that i am capable of doing so. i need to know what it is to love and to be loved in return, for who i am.    

I stayed at harbin through my birthday, and then another day as well, but i left alone, those who knew me did not really even wish me well. had i been a dark splotch upon the place, overstayed my welcome there. but i am gone, and on the road, the road to nowhere it seems.    

Or is it on the road to somewhere – learning expereinces, and joining in – on a road that will lead me to that place where i can shine my light, and give, and not hide awat.

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It feels weird to be typing this in a tent -and i see my battery is not as charged as it was when i turned off this machine the other day.

I slept long last night – with intense dreams – saw a script though i do not remember what it said, a scroll of sorts. my dreams out here and the sleep have been full, a good part of my time it seems in that other world. the sleep was deep, though i still feel i need padding for my hips. Clouds or fog have come in and it seems that all around have slept late.

I heard the ocean last night, it caressed me and became part of me, lulling me to sleep, and i felt like i was in a womb. I crawled into my tent, the clouds above forming a container with the ground beneath – and so many containers, or now that i type this maybe veils – the wind-blown distorted straggling low-lying spruce that form a roof, then my tent beneath, and within my sleeping bag pulled up over my head – and the ocean continues, and it feels like a womb, that i am being lapped in the salty water.

An interesting sunset last night as a low bank of  clouds came in off the ocean, and another, slightly higher, came down from the north, meeting and starting to join just as the sun was falling behind – the yellow ball hidden from sight, but rays of gold streamed through the gap reflecting off the water below, beaming through like in one of those old religious paintings. (tonight it was different, the sun did wobble above the clouds, felt a haze around it, then it appeared to balance on top of the thick grey, and then it sank behind – and i though of the earth turning and of the moons rotation as i looked to the south and saw it in the sky.

Today the sun has gone, or has hidden away, and i come back to a coast i remember so well and i did not want to crawl out of my cocoon. but the day has come, and the roar of the traffic on the 101 joins that of the ocean, and i can spend no more time in that other world.

And i feel a bit weak – my diet i wonder – switching more to that packaged american fare – the stuff we call ‘food’ that comes from a package or a factory or is shipped hundreds or thousands of miles. I bought broccoli last night and it was bad, spit it out and it churns in my stomach. I lay in bed, or in my bag, before the ocean entered in, longing for fresh food, sun, from the garden, harvested then and there, a true farmers stand and seasonal bounty not stuff made in a factory or shipped from away, the seasons irrelevant, where time and place matter no more. i thought of fish and the oceans bounty, and all i have had is tuna from a can. But soon i will eat my organic peanut butter and conventional banana sandwich on whole wheat bread and i drink my coffee from a can. I feel a slight chill from the ocean air but i dare not long for the heat, for a week ago as i sweltered under the blazing sun i longed for the cool, and to appreciate what is here. like the food i crave, to be here now, in this time and space.

Last night i sat behind an outcropping – a barrier from the wind. a woman came over with her cane, said what a good location, and her adult kids brought her over a chair. “these bags i have are full of sand, i make beaches from my grandniece back east – sand and shells and rocks from where i go, her little beaches in a jar. She has never seen a beach, and probably never will.” i say “you never know, the beaches you gave may call her forth one of these years”. “times are tough all over’, she says, “they may never get to travel.”

A family sits not far away, later she says they are from wisconsin, living in their van, all their possessions piled in there, the dad looking for work across the country and now down the coast. I think “they have nothing, and are on the road, a different type of travel you see” and i remember all those i have met living on the road – the home a van, an rv, a car or a tent. an old dog tries to run with the kids, and they cook hotdogs on sticks on a fire of found wood as the sun is setting, laughing, making lemonade from the lemons in life – and part of me says how lucky those kids are.

I talk to the woman – she has been in the state just over a year and tells me some of her life; “when you see me staring up in the sky at planes, you know i have been somewhere too long.” “If i were 40 again i would become a truck driver and see the country that way” – she smiles as she recollects the two years she rode with her son in his truck. I love to travel solo, but the world was not ready for me – different then – a woman travelling on her own. And i rejoice in the stories and a moment shared.
But that was last night and now it is morning.

I walked to Waldport on the beach, and back again – between 3-4 miles each way depending on which map you read. The tide was out and the beach was wide, and with the grey sky the winds of days gone by had mellowed into merely a breeze. As i walked i felt myself on the edge of the continent – wondering why with this immense land mass i cling to the edge – the edge where it descends into the sea, another world not for us humans to live – a different place where i or others will never truly understand. and i thought of the gulf coast and imagined the oil slick and the animals and life that was suffering there and i prayed. Then i turned the corner into the small alesea bay, up towards the town and i realized that the ground or sand i was walking on had been part of that other world, under the water, just a few hours before and it would be again.

when i got to waldport i asked myself why? why had i come? as i know i have done time and time again. The sky was grey and the town felt empty and sad – as it had before from time to time. the resto with the fish and chips had changed hands and it was empty inside and many more places seemed empty or shut on the road that makes up the town. I sat by the bay with a weak coffee, and remembered my thoughts of earlier that day.

Thoughts of the return to the familiar – how i have done it once again, and i thought back to that time in monterey when i first was truly conscious of my tiredness of exploration and how i was doing so little of that anymore. The familiar – need not search out for much. you have an idea of what you will encounter – though it is never truly the same and what you had forgotten comes back and you see the sameness once again. And with the clouds of today the familiarity of the coast came back and Walport, the more blue-collar town – though that world doesn’t really exist out here anymore – with its flea market, and laundromat and wifi not to be found on a sunday with the library closed, made me think of robert and doing laundry on a cold rainy day, and my search for books, and how it seems to be more his type of town – life goes on – such a different vibe than yachats a mere 8 miles down the road, and where i sleep is in between the two, and i feel that way myself. then i went into Rays, the grocery store, more down to earth, with much lower prices, and friendly service all around; they were cooking chicken in the deli, and put aside a piece for me upon my return. and it is the genuine kindness of the place i will remember – though i know it can hold back as well.

I walk through the town one last time before heading back to camp – i feel sad, nothing here for me, as i go through this small town. I walk on back, the tide’s coming in, so i walk down the highway a bit, a half a mile to where i can cut down to the open beach again. The miles seem longer going this way, the return to my place a more arduous journey. The day had warmed up and i am hot and feel sweat before i remove a layer, and i am carrying a few extra pounds of food. My legs feel heavy and i am hungry for i did not eat in town – i can wait i say until i get back to camp. I walk houses in view, but the small headland is not the one i thought – still one more to go, and i want to sit and rest on one of the few logs. a group is when i left them, playing croquet or something similar, a few hours before, seeming the same and i think all that has passed through me in the few hours since i came the other way. I am almost there – my feet are hot – and i take off my boots and walk barefoot in the sand – and how much freer i feel and a patch of blue grows in the sky. I walk across the parking lot, the uneven concrete felt upon my bare feet.

At times i dream of cities or larger small towns – but what am i to do and how am i to survive there? I think of the kids i saw by the bench where i smoked on my way out of waldport – young with huge sleeping bags and ragtag gear making their way on down the coast. And how it is a kinder, gentler life out here. And i remember that roadtrip with robert, after we left this place for i just had to get out, hiding away in a motel room feeling like i was shrinking everyday – a trip to the inner lands – the valleys of california, arizona, new mexico and beyond, with some such hard-scrabble trailer small towns – beaten down with a harsher glare – that we passed though, and at times it seemed not quick enough – and now as i type i remember there was kindness there too, at least in many places. and in waldport too are the posters “meth kills” and the vibe of the kids who hang out behind the store. But here the strange health food/pet food store has expanded and moved across the street – not better times but cheaper rent so i was told as the storefront where it once was sits vacant – just up a bit from the drive through espresso stand.

I come back to camp and talk to a new arrival – a guy on a bike riding north against the winds; a circle around the country he hopes, started in Florida a year ago – the winter spent in colorado. he goes off to scavage free firewood. The kids who were here yesterday have also stayed and have a tinny radio with hard rock on low volume that sounds like it comes from headphones that bleed. i get agitated, and then i say to myself, this is all our place too and moments later go on over and talk to them. she has gone off, but i ask him where their journey goes – on foot as well and i am curious – started in Astoria a few days ago – packs too heavy – his almost 100 pounds, and walk and hitch as well – hope to make it to Maine, may take a couple of years with the winter down south – texas or so where family is – day four of the trip now and hopes are high. I think of my old dreams of crisscrossing the country that way – dreams that sometimes come to mind until i put on my pack and stand on the road and then long for a place to stay. Sun comes out and i take a nap as showers are being cleaned – and i forget the radio and when i get up it is off as it is for rest of the day.

It is another day and the sky is grey once again after the brief respite of yesterday’s late afternoon sun. And this is familiar – too familiar as the greyness seeps into me. The robins still sing so why not i?

But coming back to familiarity, that comfort we crave, the knowing of where one may stop, find a bathroom or a bite to eat. but there is the other side too, both the joys and the sorrows that come back in – and all is simultaneously as one remembers and so different too – not just the fact that a store has moved, or the sunset is different each day, but of that landscape inside, brought back in time, yet incorporating, however buried, all that has happened in between – but it takes time for that in between to arise again, because for a moment, be it a short or long one, one is thrust back into time, into the place that one was.

The feeling of loneliness arises again today – a feeling that has been gnawing at me out here on this coast – or maybe everywhere i go.
The wind blows down and the highway – the 101 – runs north to south, nestled between the waters and this narrow strip of land – movement – up, down, passing through. I think there is a reason why this land is so sparsely populated and it feels lonely here – and maybe that is what i have felt before. Yes the calm and the beauty draw me in, but then that loneliness seeps in – and maybe that is why people reach out. Or become hunkered down under the skies when they cry endlessly, bracing against the winds.

And once again i feel the need to rejoin the rest of humanity – the slowness enters in and i want to reach out and dance with others – to step out of this cocoon i have wrapped myself in. To engage in life, but what does that mean? and just how to connect – for here i meet others with stories, those which i feel inside. And i wonder what is the me – the i – who is she – already i forget that person who existed but a week ago in eugene and i wonder why she thought as she did – but veils have already been draped, and events and peoples and memories have been revisited so many times, the story line altering a bit each time, and i wonder what was, what was merely part of the script i wrote, and what is now just part of the story i write. but as i reflect back, to then and so many other times since i have last been here, i remember the people, the teachers in life, and all i had to learn and give – and i did not always see the lessons, and my face in the mirror, and did not see what i gave or failed to give in return as well. and i thank those teachers – the people passing through – for though nature and solitude have taught me well, and given a quiet to incorporate lessons from more hectic times, it is from one another we learn and grow.

Roads lead inland, over the mountains to another valley more unknown to me, and over more mountains to a world beyond. and what is it that holds me back – has my life become stuck upon the groove, to take one of them, or is it fear or the knowing that i cannot run away from the lessons i have to learn. It is cool and damp and i must soon pack up my tent and venture on up the road – when will i turn to join the dance of life once again.

The sun came out as i packed up camp and i remembered the joys off this place. earlier i remembered a time a few years back taking down a soggy tent with one glove on and wondering where the second had gone. i was late – almost noon as i prepared to leave, and the south tempted me once again – and i remember the last time here – the man walking with his cat and how the sky turned to blue and i decided to walk down that way. And the temptation arose but it was late in the day – and it made me wonder (again) if i came out to florence this time hoping for a miracle, a rescue of sorts, as i had been “rescued” last time – the solo journey south aborted there, and i stood on the road not wanting to go to Eugene. He appeared and the story has unfolded and i am back here alone, coming out from eugene as i had on my first camping trip to this coast.

but as i stepped on the lonely road to wait for the bus, i felt lonely again. and the sun is out and the wind is up and i send this from the library in waldport – on monday and there is wifi. and i head up to newport for a day or two and another chapter to be written.

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I am back on the oregon coast and i wonder what i have done – eugene seems a million years and miles ago, and the wandering life of the past has come and shone or slapped me in the face. I sit in a cafe in Florence, beneath the bridge where i was a mere three days ago but it feels like a life has passed by.

 And i ask myself what the hell am i doing here. Yes i have had some deep nights sleep in fresh air and quiet – 12 hours or more, but i have felt the hardness of the ground beneath my bones, my hips press hard into the dirt, and my body begins to feel hard and worn once again. I looked in the mirror in this cafe when i first got out here and realize how i was looking younger once again – but now i feel like i have aged again, forgot how hard this life can be, and when i got here how a month of stability wiped many of the years from my face. Though with this camping trip i stay clean, the free hot showers in oregon state parks.

But the walk into town today – three miles up the highway seemed long and lonely, though easier than yesterday when i was carrying my pack – feeling like my back was about to give, but both times feeling more disconnected from society at large. regaining the looks of a drifter, even when the big back is left behind, a look i never truly lost, but one that seemed more subtle for a while. And the novelty of walks on the road, the adventure is gone, is it because i have been here before, or is it that feelings return. I grocery shop with my backpack thrown into and filling the cart, and people look on. though people here are kind – oregon is overall a kind friendly state – the workers in the parks, the bus drivers, the old man who talked to me when i got off the bus, the few i have talked to when drinking coffee – but i feel tired. And another zone entered.

i spend my first two nights up the road – at carl g. washburn state park – on a lonely stretch of road – a huge fairly empty hiker-biker camp in the trees – hear the ocean and the wind blow through the trees – sleep and sleep – walk a bit the day i spent – eat portable picnic food – bagels, peanut butter, string cheese, apples, carrots, odwalla bars – the diet of old. I appreciate the beauty, the calm, the earth and trees and sea and sky and air mingling, but as with previous times out on the coast, and camping in general, i ask what am i doing. yes, i need it as a break, but as a life?, and what is next?. what did i leave behind, what did i not see or appreciate and am i doing the same thing again. but that gnawing has come at me before.

I hitched up from the end of town, a lift from a guy who drove an extra few miles for me. once there, what am i doing, where to next, i don’t want to travel, why the coast again – yachats and newport came to mind, or really a city a town in which to live, to join in, missing working, a routine, a purpose, feeling confident and belonging again, not really to the place, for it was the feeling of being unwanted, the contempt and disdain that once treated me with that led me to flee, that feeling that has always put me out on the road.

And i think back to the time in eugene, did i play it out well – no i did not but yes i did – still i left feeling alone and sad, though i know i did a good job – and the cords still bind – could i have pushed on for more – then i think of the band coming in, the noise outside my door, the looking for cute young things to work for him knowing i could be given the kick at any time, the disregard for me – and while i gave my best, how much did the negativity that arose in me feed the cycle, i kept it to myself, but thought forms went out – as i felt them come in. and just as i felt used and not seen as a whole person, how many people who passed through did i not really see, did not really acknowledge. and as i felt judged, did i judge others, and as i began to have that feeling of place and confidence and a role return, did i become to big inside – and forget that i had nothing else. and when he was away, and the heaviness of my nice but martyrish roommate left, i began to feel lighter, and i hated the instability that was there, never knowing when shift would change, when i would get a new person in my room, but all i have now is greater instability. but to learn and not to cling. But i wonder how i could have ended up back here – and once again i feel like i fucked up though i know i gave.

and now…. the wind blows strong along the coast – and the mountains cut it off from the inside. i appreciate what is here, but i long for a life, a life i need to create, at the same time i feel more cut off. the wind blows from the north, i left washburn, was going to hitch up north, knowing yes a return to where i have been before, the towns came to mind as a stop gap and bus service exists up there, was about 15 minutes on the road, hating standing there, decided not to fight the winds, so i crossed the road and came south again. a 70something year old woman picked me up and told me about her life – so sweet – not always who you will expect to stop.

Time at safeway, drinking coffee, buying food, then a 3.5 mile walk south – no longer up for this. a nice hiker-biker area – treed, spacious, the only woman once again, one other “hiker” – both by foot and thumb, talked from the carolina’s, talk of newport, of travel, and nice to bond. So here i am – feel a blur of the past 4 months since i have been back – the San Francisco, Seattle, other places were forgotten about, returned to me – this voyage seems like a big blur. and now i am lost, on a stop gap action, appreciate the days, the blue skies, the sun on the trees in the evening, the sound of the wind in the trees, the clean air, the kindness of people, but again, as so many times before i feel the call for a town, not one where the highways runs through and is the town as with so many places on the coast, but one where i may build, and i feel like i had maybe been given a chance but i did not see, and i know i cannot go back there – and was not a place to stay for the winter (as i have learned i cannot handle the gloomy northwest winter skies), but as i felt when out in the country, i want to connect and join in the dance.

and the wind blows and the fog begins to roll in and this is where i am and the time is now. and the sun still shines. And to join in where i am and not yearn for what is not, step towards the light and create a life. i believe i will leave the coast soon and it is time to stop the wandering, but to be with what is and to decide how to move beyond yet as the saying goes “be here now” and be grateful for what is.

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I watched the river yesterday – a different one than the Willamette that runs through town. It was the McKenzie, and i was in the forest, in the foothills of the cascades, where it is still wilder and untamed. in some areas it flowed along, and in others the rapids were swift, churning the water into what appeared from the banks to be interesting shapes – forming and dissipating in a flash of the eye. And while i watched i remembered recently reading how water does not have shape, its form determined by the container – in this case the river banks and the rocks and soil beneath the surface. and with a river, how the shape is so temporary as it flows on – and unlike the ocean which i have experienced much more recently with the tides coming in and out, it visibly flows in one direction, heading out to sea. The small streams merging and joining and heading towards the largest bodies of all.

And it made me think about ourselves, how much are we shaped by the containers we live in – the containers of our bodies and environments and of our minds. what is our essence – the soul inside – does it have form of its own. I saw water on the way up there in the form of light drizzle, misting in the air, and on the wet concrete and in puddles from where it recently rained. And i remembered how years before when i had been in there in the fall, snow was visible on a few of the mountain tops and how snow is just another form of what flows in the river. And so is ice and the steam that comes from my kettle in the morning. What form are we really or are we form at all?

And each form of water has such a different feeling, determined in part by how it is contained. Yet it is all the same – it transforms – the frozen ice crystals, the stagnant pool, the vapour of evaporation are all its different masks. And how do you define a drop – just how do you hold water in your hands, for even as ice a solid form it begins to melt away. I watch the water and explore the world – what is and how do we define it as such. We swim in it, it is in us, and soft rafts floated down the river.

How do we care for it and what does it contain – the salt of the sea, calcium or iron or the chlorine we add – or the waste and contaminants that spill into it – changing, mixing, altering is essence – or not.

And like ourselves, there are so many different energies from the same body – a river – but where, and each river is different but also the same; a lake or a puddle, and ocean shore or bay- and i think of the destruction we have recently caused in the gulf as oil spews out and contaminates all. And water flows through us and in the ground below, and here where i am comes down from the sky (with all too much frequency) and shows how all is one despite the different forms, and how all may change and transform as well.

This is some of what i experienced as i stared at and listened to the river – not touching or engaging, not floating down upon it or swimming, but experiencing from the forested banks. now i sit inside and it seems so far away – as does the river that flows through town, and as i think of a title for this entry, i realize that the McKenzie of my mind is yet another river with a different energy so much further to the north, in another country, another zone, but all is connected at some of the drops that were there have probably also been here, for the rivers flow into the oceans and atmospheres that unite us all.

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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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The pond is a world of its own. Birds flutter about with narrow pointed wings. an eagle soars and dives into the water, snatching something behind one of the hundreds of lilipads with bright yellow flowers that dot the surface. the pond is circled by densely packed trees in a second growth forest, mainly douglas firs, but a few across the way with bright shiny leaves. I cannot see beyond the perimeters of the pond, and thus it becomes contained unto itself. One cannot see beyond, and if one were born here, could one imagine that something lay outside. Today clouds form a layer above adding to the containment. Only the sound of planes above remind me that this is not all there is.

The pond is just a few minutes walk through forest paths from the hostel where i stay. But sitting here, or there, there is no indication that the other exists just a few hundred metres away. The hostel grounds with a huge lawn with teepees and camping spots are surrounded by a thick stand of douglas firs that you cannot see through, fronted by scotch broom in bloom. The trees form a barrier that encloses and marks the boundaries of the lawn containing what is within. If i had not once been told about the path that leads out, or seen the vaguely placed sign, would i have known the pond was there at all? Would i have walked the perimeter of the lawn, ventured around the edge, and found the path through the thick forest that leads to the world of the pond and beyond?

As i sat on a bench looking out on the lawn, before i ventured into the forest, i felt the trees closing in on me and realized that i have felt this way before. In many ways they form a fence or a wall, and all you are aware of is what is contained within. And they can seem to oppress and hold you in. There are no vistas to stretch the imagination, a visible place beyond where you may go or not. For this seems to be all there is. I feel less expansive here, closing in onto myself. At the same time I feel an urge to press on through but lack the vision of how and where, unable to see beyond. Nothing catches my eye or calls me forth. i see a barrier in front of me and i feel trapped.

When i came out here to the northwest i initially loved the denseness of the forests and many of the island channels and narrow valleys for they nurtured me and contained. I felt nurtured walking through the dense forest with is floor so lush and trees so grand. I wanted to crawl into narrow valleys, bays, sounds and fjords to receive the hug that they called forth. And in these locales i felt embraced, but then would feel the need to press beyond as the walls began to close in.

And the trees are forming one dense wall. I know there is a world beyond – after all i found the pond. But i do not see the paths, and there is nothing that calls. Do i need to crawl inside before i venture on out once again? I wished a place to rest and reflect, and i have done that to a certain extent. But i feel cut off and isolated and that barrier reminds me of that which sometimes exists between myself and the rest of the world. I know that all is interconnected, even that which is not visible at the time, and there is a way through.  but sometimes it is so hard to visualize when i cannot see the other side.

The hostel itself seems like the remnants of a dream, i can see the glory of what once was and imagine the days when it was full of life with all the teepees and wagons and dorm beds full. The hostel is still here and cared for with only a few guests, but the passion is gone . The place hangs on though the dream has died, and is that what i feel inside. Has the wall closed in on others too. But it is a wall of life, and one that can be passed through. And it can teach that the vision must come from inside – after all the pond is full of life.

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This entry is so difficult to write, but i need to finish it and put it out there, move beyond the zone that this is about. Port Townsend felt to me like a fort, and i feel guilty writing what i wish to say, that i am not being fair or right, that i dare not feel this way. And i don’t know what is “the truth” if there can ever be just one, and what is my perception and the lens i saw all through. For the lens has come to me before in Port Townsend and other such locales, so how much of it is the place that brings this lens out in me, and how much of it is the lens itself that helps continue to create such a place so as to keep the lens on.

Port Townsend is such a wonderful place, the ideal, i hear people say. And in many ways it is true, but i feel something amiss and sad inside. The town has so much that i value and thought i wanted, and maybe still do. Independent bookstores, cafes, galleries and shops selling herbs and ecological clothes dot the downtown. While a safeway and McDonalds are out by the park and ride, a large food coop is closer to downtown, and a farmer’s market happens every Saturday. Organic farms with CSA box programs dot the area. Festivals happen throughout the year, arts and culture schools and classes abound, and it is a place that seems to have a sense of community, of connection and voluntarism and people who make things happen. i know that i once wrote that this place was a beacon of light, but now it feels more like a fort, like the place where i stay. Another woman looking for a place to land, to call home, told me this a few days ago so i know the feeling is not just me. And i have heard before, that for some it can be a tough town to break into. While nice to visit, it is tough to stay, and the community that seems so nice as you look on from afar, has boundaries and walls thicker than you saw at first glance. And i feel locked outside its gates. And i also ask myself do i really want in – and is my reason for saying no that it truly isn’t me, or that i reject what i feel has rejected me. And honestly it is a bit of both.

And i have to admit, the town felt a bit staid and closed, that despite a lingering progressive granola air and the arts culture, i felt a lot like i could have been in New England. there is a reserve, and a feeling of it being a very established place, where the energy flow has been set, and a bubble created that blocks much new energy from entering in.. For though i had come to visit, it was a place that appealed as a potential home, but somehow i felt that i would not be welcome there. I have been drawn here before and left it with the same feeling, but something draws me back, the idealness of it all. It represent the community that i say i want with the homes with gardens and sidewalks on many of the streets, a real downtown where people go, and active community groups. It is the type of place i imagined i wanted to live, but something pushes me away. Maybe i just do not fit in, a single childless broke middle aged woman in a community that seems to have more families and retires, though statistically i am about the median age. But i think it is more than that. For though i have been drawn to these types of places in many locales, there seems to be something that pushes me aside.

While i was there a heavy dark energy clung to me, one that i could not shake off for very long, but that disappeared when i left town. Though the weekend turned sunny, a dark cloud hung over me. I felt like i was suffocating as a dense energy crawled inside. I walked on the beach under the cliffs to and from town hoping to shake it off, but often i did not see what was around. I tried to stretch a bit on my last day there, a Sunday when i walked around the bunkers at fort worden, for all felt so condensed inside. It came and went and came back again. And i feel guilty for saying this, that it is i who is wrong, for it is not a place to feel bad or criticize, how can you dare say that about here, And it is precisely that belief that i must hold all inside, that made me feel like i was to suffocate. Or was it the belief that i was shut out that

I am not exactly certain what brought this on, for i know it was not the first time i felt those emotions and heaviness there. I stayed out at the hostel at Fort Worden and the whole town seemed to me a bit like a fort – guarded and hesitant as to what it would let in. Was it the town per se, my activities or lack of them there, the hostel in the fort itself, or something in the air? Or was it that i was trying to return to what fits no more, and though part of me still yearns for it, i cannot be let in no more? Or was it that this type of place was really never quite me, or that i was reminded of being shut out in previous locales. Or is it because it represents something i want so badly but have not been able to achieve?

For beneath the politeness of the place, there is a reserve, and a wariness of the people they greet. the vibe here reminds me a bit of victoria and seems a bit canadian, When i came through in 2001 or another time, i felt what i called a city vibe here, people not as friendly, more reserved and i noticed after being in other small towns they do not say hello on the street, though cars stop for pedestrians. it is polite, that it the word. And proper in an alternative type way, no one would call someone a name, it would be the cold shoulder, or snubbery or exclusion instead, a certain judgment that exists beneath the stated openness. And i felt the established older boomers in comfortable clothes looking at me, a wariness on their faces, and the old energy around, yes, there are many grey ponytails and creative types, and a tolerance towards some, but still a feeling that i do not belong. And that feeling that i am not welcome changed my energy, and i became someone who would not be welcomed with the dark cloud that hung around. And does this place remind me of others where i was not allowed in. And it still brings out the edge in me. For that feeling of rejection cuts me deep, and i tune into it, though there are other more open people around – and i did chat with some in the cute stores or on the streets.

And maybe some of it has to do with the hostile – oops Olympic Hostel at Fort Worden where i stayed. I felt my energy shift as i sat out on the bench, waiting for opening time. a young woman with smooth shoulder length blond hair and a hard look on her face got out of her car, walked determinedly right by me and i felt her eyes glare. She went up the stairs and into the residence – an employee i asked myself, but the realized that she was the managers daughter or friend. But something there got my defenses up, a generalized vibe, buried memories or a brief interaction at the visitors centre when i went to pick up my bag and the second woman was not nearly as welcoming as the first.

I went around the corner to where the office was. A guy in his mid forties was opening up – he looked at me blocking the entry and asked what is it you want in not the most hospitable tone. I do not remember his exact words, but i remember the tone and felt like i was being checked out as he looked at my backpack and my attire. I said i had a reservation, and he paused and let me through. When i went to pay, he asked if it were for all five nights, and he asked me twice, i went to say yes, but then something in his tone set off some alarms so i said no just two for now. We talked a bit and he opened up and became friendly but as i walked away the manager came in and questioned my paying for only two nights in a slightly accusing way. I had known the woman who had worked there before, and had a similar feeling from her off and on during the times i stayed there and it was a vibe i detected in many people in town.

I went down to the dorm, which had been moved, and there was one bed taken but the belongings piled around and on top made me believe it was someone who had been there for a while and that i was invading her space. There were two huge suitcases, the biggest you can buy, and bags and boxes and more that extended into the areas of 2 of the other 5 beds. It struck that cord in me saying you are pushing into someone elses space and made me wonder how welcome i would be down there. I went upstairs to ask about her, and was told that she was leaving the next day, had been here over three weeks and may have found a place, and it was time for her to move on. instead of sympathizing with her plight, i felt defensive in wanting my space too.

I asked about the wifi, and he said it was by donation, and showed the can with suggested donation $3-$5 clearly marked. I balked at that, saying at all hostels i’ve been at it has been free. His response was that it was expensive $1200 a year (which by my calculations works out to just over $3 a day for the entire hostel including business use, or about 10 cents per bed – yes most stood empty but) and that it was in the spirit of hosteling like donations for coffee or breakfast, which on my reservation was included in the price. I became defensive, and he said in a clippy dismissive tone, think about it and said there is wifi out at the commons building in the park (which was closed and i could not connect there). i did not check it that night, and the manager was hostile to me, i did give a donation of a dollar for the wifi and started off on a bad foot. I felt like i was being nicked and dimed and wondered where those “donations” went, and did not feel welcomed in the least and he reminded me of those judgemental closed liberals who i have encountered too many times before. And hearing that clippy dismissive tone, i got into that old pattern of mine, and searching for problems and problems i did find. And i think that help colour my view of the town, for where you stay effects your impressions of a place. But i also felt that he was representative of one element in the place.

And i think that was it, the hostel was not meant to be too welcoming, with the all day lockout and more. And i felt bad for not thinking it was all wonderful – one other said something about the lack of heat in the room where one night i needed three blankets just to keep warm (it was in the low 40s at night). But i feel bad writing this, as if i am the one who is wrong, for there is much good about the place, but the (un)welcome i received brought out the negative side of me.

i feel that it is wrong for me to write this about the place that it was i who was bad, and thus proved it, deserved that kind of reaction. but i know it was an energy at play, feeding each other, i dismissed and judged and feeling that closedness reacted in a way that “proved” the person right, for when one is looked down upon or seen as lesser, it is easy to slip into reactive behaviour and become the judge myself. And i think now of the power of love, and the energy it has, not romantic love but that of people and others in general, and when it is shut down, or when there is distrust, it brings forth a new energy entirely of its own.

The woman with the bags came in and we talked, and it was such a relief – she was trying to relocate and had problems finding a place to stay, saying these places are illusionary, not as open or friendly as at first glance, and while she had found something very temporary, she did not know if she could find a longer term place, for as doors opened up they shut firm just as hard, and the town seemed closed to people like her – a wandering woman spent years in alaska, childless, single, and with a roaming path, and she had tried other communities, cute and liberal too, and found that there was little place for her. i could relate, and it felt we shared, but then i went down and to bed.

She came in about five to ten, just as i was ready to turn off the light on my bed and go to sleep and said i hope you are not going to sleep quite yet, i need to pack, and that set me off – for i saw her bags and stuff strewn around, and i was exhausted and 10pm was quite time. so i spoke up, and then we got in a fight and instead of making a friend i made an enemy. Did i see in her situation, the frustration of my own? It was not like she was packing a single suitcase, and she’s been back at the hostel for a few hours and waited until then to walk back and forth, stacking bag after bag in the aisle that was right by my bed. I should have been more generous, and was made to feel that i was wrong, spoke to the manager about the posted quiet times who just said curtly and unsympathically well she needs to pack. And i just felt more defensive like i should hide away and all my boundaries are wrong. And i am the bad one and maybe that is what i became. I asked the manager about cancellations the next day, they had a 48 hour policy and he said don’t worry about it, and now that i think about it i should have left. But the town i still imagined as ideal, a place i desperately thought i might want to stay, after all it is why i had come all this way. I’m not sure to the extent that my lens were clouded or to what extent i saw the underside clear, but after that the town felt more like a fort to me.

I feel guilty writing this – oh, it is such a wonderful place, how dare you write anything that is not entirely good – and maybe that is why i have felt like i am suffocating. Though it is by the sea, tides roll in and out, but it feels like a place where you don’t dare make waves or rock the boat, and there are so many boats being built and sitting in the harbour, how does a person like me, an outsider, not rock any one. And maybe that is why i am locked outside, not only from this place but from so many around.

I don’t know why i should feel this way, for there is so much nice here, and maybe that is it, nice is the word. And bland, and i think that is it. But all feels so bland and conventional and proper in a left coast type of way. And my writing has become bland as well, as i feel my energy sucked out of me, I feel passionless here, and i pick up on that although i know many must have passion to create all that is around. And so many do live their passions in their daily lives. It feels a bit like a place of “do-gooders” with whom i never really fit, even when i lived this lifestyle, too rough around the edge. Those who were nice, but never really let me in. In some ways it reminds me of N who i dated a long time ago, so perfect on paper, a sensitive progressive artsy guy, but something was missing, something that i could not put my finger onto, though when he turned my aside i was still crushed. But i do feel a staidness to this place..

I felt it was not a place where i could see someone dancing or singing with life, no great outbursts of emotion of any kind. I can’t see drunk debauchery or even anyone driving to fast. And while this constraint bothers me, i wonder if it is just a mirror – for i know i get upset when people talk or play music too loud or step out of my bounds, and i avoid the drunken scene, So why does it bother me, and what does it say. And the town is so full of expression in many ways – the artists and writers and so many more, but what i perceive is a safety zone that i could never quite fit in, Though there is debate in the paper about different issues, i feel like you cannot step to far from the albeit progressive norm. I felt like this is a place of the good, and though i seek out the pure, the good often feels oppressive to me. i feel that what i am writing is wrong. Or it is merely that i could not sing here? Or is it that i have not pursued my passions, and thus really am not welcome here, And is it seeing my own failure to sing and dance that brings out the darkness in me, the darkness that no body wants here.

And is it that i feel that i am not allowed in, and others also say it is a hard place to break into. For i have too much of an edge, and being here it comes back more. But many are not too traditional and was redone by some hippies and this town in its first incarnation had a rougher edge. but i feel faces checking me out in a not too friendly way, look at my worn pants and my ripped shoes and while polite, turn away. But even on my visit here in 2001 when all was new, i still felt that way. I feel the judgment around typical of a certain progressive crowd. Judge not and ye not be judged, but i still feel a protective cautious atmosphere. And yes, the judge in me comes out.

It is established and settled and emits that vibe. And while it has gone through various transformations, uptown feels like it has often been that way with the old victorian homes and mainstream churches, i know that downtown was once rougher with bars along the docks.

it feels like a fortress, protecting what is and in that way is so much of america post 9/11. While a crunchy liberal vibe, rebuilt in part by hippies who rediscovered this town many years ago, it feels like the walls have been put up to keep the evil elements out. And it feel like more and more towns are this way, the ideals of starting over, and building anew, no longer possible in these places. Is this a cycle places go through, or is it part of the transformation america is going through – not longer a place of exploration or of any frontier, but of protection of all that is. and so the hoards wander more, knocking at the few doors, and we are turned away. Though here there aren’t the “no” signs you see to the south, or the watchful police, and kids still busk on the street and you see a few who seem to be known with backpacks or bicycles and more.

And in some ways who can blame the people here, it is ideal in so many ways, in an area where much has been stripped away, poor communities, a few nice island enclaves, some rougher places and those dying out, and other places like this but without the community spirit. And community has boundaries, those who are in and those who are out, and the welcome on mainstreet seems but superficial. And i feel like i don’t fit in, and it is not only here but in the port townsends in so many places.

And are there any new places of dreams – there must be somewhere i hope. I guess i dreamed of this place as an ideal, and say little that would allow me to stay. And in the dream not only of there, but of many places like that, i turned to despair. And though i saw almost nothing for rent, maybe i could have stayed, but it most likely would have been on the edge. And what i want to be is in the included middle, a dream that i think was never for me, for all too often i have placed myself outside, and now in my life that is where i live, so far from the centre and i feel so cut off. And maybe to learn that it is ok to be on the outside, for in these types of places you will not be hunted if you are there, But the feel is that i would be tolerated, in the type of place that i so badly wanted to be accepted. Or did i?

As i read this i realize that this is the type of place that i have been taught to believe “is good”, the middle class, the artists, the community and more, the type of place that i was supposed to want. And yes it can be “good” but at the same time i also was taught (by who i am not sure) that other places and people were not so “good” and often in my life i have learned that is not at all true. For I know i have often felt more welcomed in rougher or simpler places that do not pride themselves on “being good” and maybe it is that disparity i see, and the beliefs that i still hold inside, beliefs that i thought i had let go of. For i have been to many of these places, the ideal liberal crunchy towns, believing that is where i am meant to be, and have left time and time again, feeling something off – that this is not the place for me, but still have clung to this ideal and that image of who i am and what i should be. I guess now is the time to lay it behind, keep the parts that i value, but stop clinging to this misplaced ideal.

I have left now, and it is time to put this out, for i have let this dark energy hang onto me too long. Part of me wonders if i should publish it, but if not i think i will hold it in.

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My seat faces backwards and i look at where i’ve been, the road and place where i am coming from. I do not look forward, see the horizon, the place i am travelling to. It seems it is like how much of what my week has been spent in recollection and i ask myself how much of my life has been that way. Looking backwards.

I am on the way out of San Francisco, riding the Amtrak train. Actually, that is not entirely true for trains do not run into the city itself. i had left the city taking the Amtrak bus across the bay to Emeryville where the tracks run through.

I boarded the train, one of the last into the car, and had to wait awhile to put my baggage up on the rack downstairs, and as a result i was the last one up to the top where the seating was. As always, i wanted a window, so i could watch the landscape pass by. Now half the seats in the train faced forward, and half the seats faced back. All the forward looking window seats were taken, the only ones available were in the places for four with the two seats facing one another, and being a person alone i did not take one for myself, knowing that more people would soon get on. So i got a full window in one of the seats, and stared backwards as the train rolled along.

I watched the suburbs, empty lots and water as we headed in along the bay en route to Martinez. While the water and hills pleased the eyes, i could not but help feeling that something was wrong. I was looking backwards to where i had come from and could not see what lay ahead, did not see what we were coming up to. Looking backwards is like constantly goodbye and not hello, and looking to the past. In along the bay and more so in the valley you could look back a very long way. Still the landscape shifted, and things would drop out of view. In Martinez, the train turned away from the bay and left the water behind. But even in the flat lands of valley, with it’s industrial agriculture, the horizon slowly slipped out of view.

I became uncomfortable, i was facing the wrong way, our eyes are not on the back of our heads. I should be in the now, i thought, so i tried to turn my head aside, to just look at the moment and landscape as i passed through. Once in a while i would turn my head as far to the right as it would go to see what lay up ahead but i could barely get a view and from the little i saw it merely seemed to be more of the same. My neck felt best when it faced forwards which meant backwards on this train. I shut my eyes, fell asleep, and did not see anything for while.

I woke up a little while later, unsure of where i was. We passed a new housing development and the orchards had replaced the plots of dirt or low lying plants somewhere on the line. And i saw that we had moved forward and along, though at times my eyes were shut. i stared out the window, looking backwards for rest of the journey.

And i thought that maybe looking backwards wasn’t all that bad and was part of the journey itself. After all half the seats faced in that direction. I was on the train, moving along the tracks. The tracks that were laid out upon the ground and that led me to where i was going. I knew my intended destination, and trusted someone to take me there. For though i looked back, i did not cling or hang onto what was there, and kept rolling forwards to where i had to go.

I got to Merced and stepped on off the train, now in a new locale. I still had another transfer to get to Midpines. I waited outside for a little while, standing in the sun, then got on a bus, to my next destination. It turned some corners, then drove straight, then the road began to twist and turn as we climbed from the flay valley to the foothills and began the mountain climb. The seats faced forwards and i looked to that what lay ahead.

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