Friday, July 22, 2011

The Tao of Wander

What I love about the Tao, or the Way, is that it is always with me. No matter where I start or end, there I am (pretty sure I'm quoting Winnie the Pooh).  Heading into the unknown, especially when it's a dark, foreboding sky, can seem exactly that. Dark and foreboding. Yet, the sun is still shining where I am.

Fear is a powerful drug. Diving into the Ocean is terrifying. Driving into a black sky is ominous. Yet, when you cruise through to the Other Side, inevitably, a rainbow is awaiting...or maybe it's more black sky, or sharks, but we all have our struggles. The more we can stay present and see what is right in front of us, the more we can stay with fear, be the fear, taste the fear, and finally, let go.

After having traveled for five weeks straight, my perspective has shifted. The Road frees us. It can also shackle us, but moving helps. Whether we choose to accept it or not, the Tao moves with or without us. Within us and without us.

"lover of truth
follow no path

all paths lead where
truth is here"
~ e.e. cummings

The dog had been gently scratching at the car door after five hours of our sixteen-hour drive back home. We stopped at Liberty Lane somewhere in eastern Oregon off of Highway ninety-seven. Being cooped up in a small jalopy can be a strain on anyone, including a canine. Or especially a canine who is the size of a small horse, and loves to run. And so he ran free, as the dark clouds came closer, still illuminating our spot in the Present. We all need to stretch our legs, ourselves when we feel stuck.

I came into this world unstuck. I was born a traveler. I'm sure of it. My parents tell me I was "made in Palau." I've only got 10 stamps in my passport, and about 13 States I've been to, and like George Harrison summed it up for me, "the farther one travels, the less one really knows..." I, like so many countless others are in the Seeking business. Do we find ourselves by collecting the most toys?

Is the Path about suffering and pain, and then finding light and happiness, or vice versa? The rhetoric is always there to taunt us. I like to think that if we can always keep our minds just a little bit open, just like a door slightly ajar, we can maintain a certain level of levity, to help endure the storms, the insurmountable pain that we are forced to endure through Divorce, Death, or even Self-Destruction.

A church for sale seems ironic. Especially in a nowhere town. When a town is literally defined by having a bar and a church, and you find the church is for sale, it makes you wonder what happened to all the parishioners. They must've given up. Switched to Allah. Or maybe started reading the Tao Te Ching. Who knows? But I love life's little ironies.

We passed through a lot of small towns to get all the way to Pullman, Washington, where my husband's aunt lives. It is an incredibly beautiful drive through eastern California, Oregon and Washington. I'm all too familiar with the western side of the Pacific Northwest, but the eastern side really brings such contrast, that it's hard not to fall in love with it's scrolling beauty.

If we didn't understand contrast, like as a printer of black and white photography, we would never know about getting back to center. I had to learn that you always needed a true black, and a true white. And then it's a matter of bringing in the middle tones. Isn't that what this is all about? Find the balance. It's not all black and white.

Color exists, and so do shades of gray. So I pick my crayons, and tubes of paint, and choose to color a new world, or repaint the one I have, and hop on the Train to keep moving and enjoying the ride.

I saw a lot of folks who were very happy on their river in Egypt. And that's fine. I guess when you are Awake, and understand that there is always a Way Out of our stuckness, it makes the path a little more light. I'm not saying that it is easy to pull the needle out of the broken record (shit, that dates me!), as it takes a tremendous amount of Work to get to our marrow, the fibers that weave the warp and weft of who we are. A million self-help books to solve our relationships: to our parents, to our siblings, to our lovers, to our spouses, to our divorces, to our money, to our dogs, to our homes, to our spirits...and pretty soon, that scrolling landscape has passed us by.

I lived in France after high school for a year, and my first host family mother was adamant that I get as much French culture shoved down my throat as possible. At the beginning of my year with them, we took a drive to the south of France, where they had their summer home (and where they retired to) in Montauban, outside of Toulouse, and she would get us to stop at every cathedral, and historic landmark along the way. I remember her jostling me out of sleep to get me to see one more church. I could've cared less. I told her I was tired and just wanted to keep sleeping. She told me, "tu peux dormir quand tu rentres aux Etas-Unis." (you can sleep when you get back to the States.) And that has always stayed with me. I continue to awaken, and greet the day in a place of gratitude. Because I know that a new set of images will be unfurled from their scroll, and I get to interpret them in a new way.

Wanderlust has always (and continues to) feed my soul. Even if it's in my own backyard picking a basket of fresh strawberries from plants that the owners planted a few years back. All I do is water and fertilize them, and they nourish every fiber of my being. I will continue to Seek and Find myself right here.