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Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

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

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

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

Entering No Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

special place on no name creek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

looking down no name

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

 

looking over no name

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

 
 
looking above and beyond the canyon

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

 
 
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Just as San Francisco as a mythical place represented my dreams, i have come to realize that the Northwest states represent their loss. My sadness here has not only been because of the gloomy grey skies, but it has been a place where i have often come when i have no longer been able to dream – i have come when they have started to slip away or after greater losses, and i have further abandoned them in much of my time here. While the grey plays into that – and i only now truly realize how much it does – i have often also come at personal times that opens myself up to, and makes me vulnerable to, the greys. And my difficulty in writing here is not merely that the greys have clung on again, but also, because so much of the story that comes to my mind is one that i wish to let go. And i am getting tired of the story of me and my passion is draining (or has drained away) once again – and i see that in the energy of the words i write upon the page or screen.

It is true that the first time i came through at the age of 20 i saw and fell in love with the beauty of parts of the Oregon Coast – it was July and sunny, and i experienced the Pacific’s power and magnificence. While i was a place i wanted to see again for i relished its glory, it never represented a dream per se. Still in 2001, when i left “my normal life” i came out here and saw the wonder once again, but also a sense of malaise underneath. And in the past three years, since September 2007, this area has increasingly become a place where i merely hang on and sink myself down. Yet i return, even though each time i say i will not. And i ask myself why – and in the past few years i think the familiarity calls upon me and the fear of the unknown and letting go. I have started several entries on my time on the coast, and in the next day of two i will need to put them out, as unfinished as they may be. For hopefully to put them out will be to help let them go and in doing so will help create that space inside for life to bubble up once again.

I think more now of places as symbolic though they really exist in 3D. But all too often what is imagined or the energy that calls to me when i am away is only a partial perception of the place. And with these callings, how much of it has to do with the place per se, the concrete tangible aspect of it, and how much has to do with what has been created in the mind. It extends beyond the experiences one had as well, and the emotions and feelings associated with them. it is part of the picture, but it is not all. For what is remembered and what does call is only a small portion of what truly is there for in any given moment we perceive only a small fragment of all that is around, and we then further (unconsciously) select what part of that becomes part of ‘the story’. And when we return they is so much more, what has been lodged deep in our minds comes up, and we return in so many ways, and the place too has changed and remains the same. And we remember that the call itself was not pure, and there were rumblings we tried to deny and push from our minds.

And why is it that i have been called to the rains – is it something i needed to process, or did the grey in my mind bring me here and keep me here, the outside reflecting that which is within. For the past several times here, and previously in BC, i would have the call when away, and then upon arrival would have that feeling of being pressed down. And as time went by, and i kept coming back, that feeling would grow even more. So was this place once part of my dreams? Maybe – i am no longer sure.

And i did not head north – to a new area, and thus a place of new possibilities, because i wanted to avoid the grey and the rain – and it has followed me around. Is it because it is something i was so determined to avoid, that i called it forth upon me? Is it a reflection of the act of avoidance in and of itself – of going away rather than moving towards.

And i know that what i am seeing and remembering in this very moment is only part of the story. To put it out, though it is incomplete, for otherwise i could rewrite and write again, each time altering what is “real”. For i know that i have grown here, in moments of despair and of joy – and have learned from nature and the dark nights of the soul.

As i finish the rambling on, i see that is it is the familiarity that i wrote about that at times brings me back here. And the feeling that this is someplace safe – life is calm, people are generally truly nice and kind and there is more of that energy of acceptance and love than exists in so many places around. Especially here in Oregon. And that feeling embraces and also closes in, as i become hesitant and wary of what “exists” elsewhere – a cocoon before i spread my wings.

And with the growth, that was internal, and the way all closes in, from the dense forests to the grey of the skies, maybe that is what this place has been to me – a cocoon. And maybe one that has outlived its time for more and more i have been feeling the need to spread my wings and fly. when does a cocoon nurture and when does it become a trap? A caterpillar must spend time there to become a butterfly, but must also break out to complete the process – or otherwise rot and die. Did i come back because in the past i tried to break free too soon, or in other ways did not complete the transformational process that would allow me to fly? That i cling onto the comfort of what is known, for i really do not know what is means to be a butterfly and fear making a break from what is known? But i cannot go back to being a caterpillar, life does not work that way. A caterpillar does not know what the outcome will be, but continues with the process anyhow – shedding what is no longer needed and restructuring from the inside out. It cannot say, oh let me proceed, but i’m not ready to lose my skin or my feet, or these wings don’t feel quite right, can i tuck them back in.

So i think the northwest maybe is my cocoon, and like many of the old wooden buildings for me it has begun to rot.

I think about how i did not let go of this place – i left it behind, but still let it call. in my journey through central america it called in several places, and rather than be where i was, i remember the idealism of here. it called in Costa Rica, when i was in beautiful nature, yet still felt a bit dissatisfied – in manual antonio and along the hot coast when i remember the coolness of the coast in the north, and again in monteverde when i was not as amazed by the cloud forest as i could have been, or when i first imagined it, for i had been to so many lush rainforests here.

I am avoiding writing about that time where i let this place – the usa west – come onto me and as such i stopped the growth and transformational process – or at least put the brakes on it. When i was about to break through at las pirimides and became afraid and felt like i was about to die – not knowing if it was in this physical body or in the ego that held me in, but after all the energy transforming and visions and releases i had, i truly felt as though i would soon be dead. I cried and cried that fateful night, and said, if this is so then let it be. but then i added, i don’t want to die here, let me see the large trees and the pacific northwest once more, before i go. and then put the brakes on it and soon started the cycle of revisiting. I asked for this, and am i fated now to rot inside or can i push on through – for how many times have i not let go when i felt afraid and alone and this stagnation is the consequence. At times in the past month as i have walked along, i have felt like a ghost and wondered if that is what i really am – a spirit who has died to the physical world, but just does not know and cannot let go. And at times i wait for someone to shake me and tell me that is so, and then i will be ready to go to my true home for i know that i cannot stay in this cocoon, but it is a place to which i crawl.

And that has been so much of my sadness and emptiness of late – knowing that i turned back and ran away from the journey that i was on. Have i hindered my transformation – was i given but one last chance. Have i come here to die, instead of a quick process, a slow painful death? Can i still spread my wings or have they been forever clipped? Or has all that has slipped away been a final letting go and i will somehow emerge from this cocoon?

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The fort has been transformed long ago and it helped transform the spirit inside me. I arrived at Fort Mason, the home of Fisherman’s Wharf hostel and much more, and immediately felt at ease after the bustling of the city i had come through. It is an oasis, one of several, in this city of San Francisco by the bay. It sits on a small headland between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina District, but is a place onto itself. Up top the hostel sits, along with several buildings and here i make my temporary home. The landscape is green, and i feel at peace, away from the city but so close.

I had come into the city the night before and stayed downtown near Union Square. The canyons of concrete and steel and the rush of traffic replaced the mountain valley and the sounds of the creek where i had been. I went to the downtown hostel, a place i had been several years before, and had avoided until now – it had been renovated i had heard and I decided to give it a chance. The building buzzed from the sound outside, the chaotic centre with traffic, car alarms, music playing and people passing by – it was a hum, no even more, a buzz, i felt the vibrations of the sound and the energy that was around. I could not sleep, despite the now comfortable bed and the thick curtain that was meant to block the glare of the parking garage across the street.

Despite the buzz, the place felt sad, maybe a remnant of days gone by. The paint was dark, an olive green in the lobby and the narrow halls, and a deep grey in my room, the white trim now dirty, the baseboards chipped. The carpets were dark and the ceilings low. The kitchen had been completed, but it was not a place to sit – a depressing feel clung to the place. Outside, the old “hotel virginia” signs hung from the shabby facade, the blinds not quite fitting the windows, and only at the door, was the HI sign more visible. And what was this hotel in the days before, was it possible to transform it from inside? How much of the energy clung here, the gloom and the buzz.

Maybe it was the location on the border between union square/powell circle and the tenderloin, the place where tourists pass through with maps and shopping bags, and that where the down and out live, and here the two meet, and the hustle is deep. I hear the partying, the buzz of the night, The unsettledness of the locale resonates with that which lay deep inside and i know i must leave. I cancel my second night and head down to the hostel at fort mason where i still remain.

The bus i must take cuts through chinatown late on a saturday morning. I walk to the stop, with my pack and more, past union square where the tourist bus huskers hand out leaflets. The stop is crowded, a full bus passes by, and then another with people going to chinatown for their saturday shopping – a return to the centre they have left. I look around and know that cannot climb on with all my stuff. I walk a few blocks under the bridge to a stop where i know many people will get off. I am almost at the stop and the bus pulls in and i ride through chinatown, down columbus street, and through the upper wharf, until we stop outside the gates. I walk the path, the pack on my back, but feel lightened already.

I dump my bags and register, to early for a full check-in. fatigue overcomes and i go outside, sit on the picnic table near the eucalyptus trees. I breathe in rich fragrance of the trees and the moisture of ocean air and become revitalized. The sound of birds has replaced that of cars, and a dog plays on the lawn. The place feels good, the buzz falls away.

I walk out to the main path that connects fishermans wharf to the marina, and look down at the buildings below, the warehouses on the piers, concrete but not as dark, full not of goods but of life, cultural organizations, events and more. I admire the bridge crossing the bay to the hills to the north. Tourists cycle or walk their bikes up the hill, the blazing saddles map to guide their trip over the bridge. Joggers pass by, and a few stand or sit admiring the view.

I walk down the steep narrow stairs to lower fort mason. I want a coffee. I stroll through the parking lot and to the library book store with a full bin of dollar books outside. So much choice, i browse the titles and pick up one, i go inside, pay for it, and spot yet another bin, and find myself picking up another. Music wafts out of a building across the way, i sit on a bench by the water, seagulls staring me in the face. A child watches the seal who swims around, and a man tells her a tale. I open my book and am transported to another place, but still remain where i am. I grab a coffee and return, rested, peaceful and read for a while on a saturday afternoon. When it is time to leave, i walk by one of the buildings, people dressed up high, a wedding reception with a playroom for tots.

I exit the zone, to the grocery store, and return to the green and read some more. The joggers and cyclists are on the path, and groups, pairs and singles sit, eat, play, nap and read on the grass. A wrinkled asian woman sorts through a garbage can wearing plastic gloves, collecting the recyclable bottles and cans. A cool breeze comes in and slowly i make my way up the stairs, and under the eucalyptus trees.

The place is tranquil but is full of life. It is a place that was transformed from the inside. An old army base is now part of the golden gate national park area, the lower section a place for the arts, with theatre, art, schools and more and the barracks a hostel for travellers from around the globe. A place renewed, with many lives, a place with a centre in the heart.

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Energy rushes through and jitters around. I feel it flowing, in spurts, unevenly, through my veins and joints. I feel something off kilter in the air or in the ground, and i know i have felt it before, on my previous visits here – but never so intensely. The energy feels chaotic, and messy. Much more alive than when i was in monterey just down the coast – too alive, kinetic and frenetic.

The vibrations are disorganized as my thoughts are becoming – disorganized like the lives of so many here that you see on the sidewalk and on the buses and walking around and i have come into that and feel different, sicker every day. Or am i feeling better, clearing out processes and thoughts, all rushing through. In any case the energy is alive and strong and strange. And i feel off balance as i sense the earth shifting below my feet, the world becoming less dense for a moment or two.  Or is this an opening, for i have felt the energy flowing through, the loosening of joints and emotions pouring out and within. Is this liberation, a clearing out of what has been held inside for too long. Is this the energetic restructuring that so many new agers write about? I Felt the spurts in the kitchen my first night here, and wondered if it were the fridge gone amok, but it was outside. And at night i slept and slept, 10 plus hours and wanting more. And it was not just the change in the weather.

Is it the bay, the land, the people, or maybe just the position of the stars? though i have felt this way here before. Is it my activities though they were different this time. I feel a rushing, and a lightness and the earth becoming less dense like it is slipping away for just a moment. And i remember that feeling from the first time i was here, thought it was hunger, but there was also soon to be a small quake. And the energy seems unstable, as it did so many places in Central America – the land of earthquakes, volcanoes, and turmoil, a land that is unstable. But the quality here feels different, its vibration may be at the same speed, but the tone is not. However, it reminds me of what i felt on lake atitlan, and there i felt something processing through, something powerful and of whose quality i was unsure.

And i wonder – is it the energy of the people around – thought forms floating through space, thought forms that i pick up on and feed upon? (but now that i finish this in San Francisco, in the tenderloin, where so many are so far gone, i know that it is not just that for i am not effected the same way here). It could be partially, the chaotic thoughts of many, intensified, but it is more. There is something about this place that draws people in and chews some of them up.

The energy here calls you in, takes you over – if you are open – and possibly churns you up and pushes you away, and transforms you. It twinkles brightly, and then shoots out in spurts. Santa Cruz is a place of eccentrics. Are they/we drawn here by the energy, or does the energy which is here make people more eccentric, pushing too many over the edge. A diffuse energy that opens one up to a sense of the new but that bounces around in a way that some cannot handle. It is a place where so many are different, that it is ok to let go. But is it a letting go, or a push. And can i let go? Am i meant to? What is it in the air?

 Does it take from all who feel it, or have we just not learned to work with it, to be freed by it. Would it be more liberating if we just let go. That there are so many competing chaotic thought forms here that it makes it all ok to let loose. And is it not letting it reach out and push through, an incomplete transformation that leaves to many – well partial? Or is there a clinging of other darker energy that prevents it from taking hold? Or is it just a craziness?

For some of the vibrations are harsh, on the street signs i wrote about, with all the nos and in some of the young street punks, who look so hard, and so strung out. The young punks with dark clothes and multiple piercings and tough looks on the faces. Scowling and every second word seems to be a fuck, rejecting all – how badly were they rejected themselves. and yes the disorganized vibe of drugs but it is more. And i feel like i am loosing it. Or am i?

And the energy is loose and tight at the same time – for while many seem open and glowing, others are scattered and others seem so tightly drawn, protecting themselves,  or hoarding the light they have received.  And that energy that is loose and moving intensifies, bouncing back upon itself, bouncing off the invisible walls. Is it felt in the bounce of the ocean against the land? the mountains behind that keep the vibrations here, that block the flow inland? Is it those who cannot feel it, or in those who can but do not wish to and thus try to shut it down, encouraging all not to break the bounds. but some have, and some succeed, and in others there is the appearance, the words, but the fear of truly letting go – because then what – what if we all did really let go. Would we fall down onto the street, or could we all be uplifted.

And is the darkness within the light, within that which flows and spins, an integral part of it, or has it just been caught, caught in the spin. I feel like i am crazy on the outside, defective but there are so many like me here. And i begin to fear, what if i do really lose it. Is this a breakdown or a breakthrough? Why do i fear letting go? Why are we told to hang on – afraid to think out of the bounds.

I leave, run away from the place, could have just wandered up or down a bit, to the sea or the forest, but instead i go to the city. Process it slowly – can i , do i make a leap. And i begin to wonder if everyone was right – if i should just admit that i am crazy, lay down and admit it, and let myself cross that bridge. Cross over – is the next dimension really there?

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