2015 Road Trip: Getting the Message

June 23, 2015

To do my writing today I go to the highest place at Cape Perpetua, with a grand view of the world around me. From here I can see it all, ready to receive some wisdom, some insight, some flash of truth, turn it into elegantly simple language, and upload it for everyone to read.

I’m ready to go!

Three hours later I’m feeling totally defeated. Nothing happened. Nada. Not a word. A wasted morning it seemed.

I decide to walk a humbler path, toward the sea. I give up, I say, let’s just take a walk.

I look down and notice something at my feet, only two inches high.

Only then do I see you, looking out at me from everywhere.
You’ve been here the whole time.

Ready to melt my heart.

Ready to greet me with a thousand faces.

2015 Road Trip: I Don’t Mind What Happens

June 19, 2015

J. Krishnamurti, the great Indian philosopher and spiritual teacher, toward the end of his life shared the secret of his life and teaching.

“This is my secret,” he said. “I don’t mind what happens.”

From an essay by Eckhart Tolle posted on Awakin.org

Discussing this passage at the Jun 10 Silicon Valley Awakin Circle, we reflected on the many challenges and paradoxes of following this simple wisdom.

The following week, on the third day of my road trip, I woke up with a start. As I lay in the sleeping bag in my tent at Castle Crags State Park near Mount Shasta, the light told me it was almost dawn. My skin felt strange, like there were crawling insects. Not possible, I told myself. This is a tight new tent, and everything is zipped up. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t, and the feeling kept getting stronger.

Then I turned on the flashlight. Ants! Everywhere! Hundreds of them! Thousands of them! All over the tent, in the sleeping bag, all over me! What do I do now?

For a brief moment, I just sat there, watching it all. Then I recalled Krishnamurti’s words: “I don’t mind what happens.”

All of a sudden I burst out laughing. “Hey, don’t mind me!” I said in a loud voice. “I’m cool! Just come in and do your thing!”

But as I started swatting the ants off my arms and legs, face and scalp, and watched in fascination as more and more of them swarmed into the tent, I was still left with the question, what do I do now?

I thought back to the Awakin Circle and remembered something that Ted, the guy sitting next to me, said. “Accepting a situation doesn’t mean just being passive. I think it also means accepting that I do what is appropriate.”

Fifteen minutes later I had managed to remove myself and all my stuff from the tent. People at the next camp site later told me that they saw me wildly jumping up and down, hands full of paper towels, swatting at the tent and scattering ants in all directions, yelling at the top of my lungs: “This is my tent, My Tent, MY TENT!!!”

They seemed a little concerned about me.

I just looked at them. “What would YOU do?” I said.

2015 Road Trip: Wild Grass

June 18, 2015
Selma, Oregon

“If present trends continue, this century may well witness … an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us…

“We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature…

“Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes…”

From Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Si”
June 18, 2015

Meanwhile, heeding an
old call, wild grass is pushing
past stones toward the sun.

2015 Road Trip: Starting Out

Sunday, June 14
10:45 AM

Finally on my way to Shasta! I start about an hour and 15 minutes late, but not doing bad all things considered. There’s still time to get to the campsite, set up the tent, relax a little, and have dinner while it’s still daylight.

I’m on the road less than five minutes when I see a little convenience store that I hadn’t noticed before, on the side of Highway 1. I need ice, so I pull up the car and go in.

The guy behind the counter, in his 30s, black hair, brown skin, short, slender, smiles at me pleasantly and shows me where the ice is. I grab a bag, bring it to the register, and he rings it up.

“That’s pretty expensive,” I say.

“What do you mean?”

“Four dollars for a bag of ice? Last year it was $2!”

“Well, I don’t know. This is what we’ve been charging for a while.” He shrugs and smiles. “Everything’s getting more expensive, you know? But the pay for people like me stays the same.”

I nod my head. “Yeah,” I say, “I get it.”

“I’ve been working almost 15 years. When I started, you know what I was making?”

I shake my head, no.

“$20 an hour. That was good money man! I could get married, have a couple of kids, find a good place to live, raise a family. You know what I make now?”

Again I shake my head, no.

“$20 an hour. Same thing man! Everything keeps getting more expensive, more expensive, but they keep paying me the same. And I can’t find any jobs that pay more. My family, we can’t live the way we used to.”

The strange thing is, he’s still smiling as he tells me this. This is tough! I think. What’s he smiling about?

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I’m sorry about what you and your family are going through. This country has become very messed up.”

He shrugs and shakes his head. “It’s crazy, isn’t it?” Looking into his smile, I can see that he has no bitterness. Has he managed to detach himself from life’s vicissitudes and observe the world with serenity? Is he a hidden holy man?

“What’s your name?” I say.

“Angel,” he says.

I look at him a moment. “Mine’s Aryae,” I say, reaching out my hand. “It means Lion of God in Hebrew.”

We shake hands, and talk for another 20 minutes.