I have never been anywhere more breathtaking than this corner of Alaska where I call Home. Breathtaking in every sense of the word. The frigid air knocks the breath from my lungs with the subtlety of a bulldozer. Promising the immense power of Mother Nature in every captured breath. The lavender wash of early sunset (3:30pm early) splayed across the frosted tips of mountain guardians. The darkness. The ink black darkness. Compelling and coaxing more hours of sleep, more comfort food, and more moments of reflection. The golden orb that hangs suspended in the black velvet sky is larger here, I’m sure of it. Meeting the newest member of my family. Gazing into the portals of the future through the round expressive eyes of countless generations. There is beauty here. Beauty in the land, in the people. Harsh, blinding, bone-chilling, perpetual night, breathtaking beauty.
Two weeks is the perfect length of time to be home. Long enough to reconnect with treasured loved ones and long enough to cherish my time away and on my own. This is where I come from and this is where I leave from. It seems that this trip has been a continual practice of allowing the past to catch up with the present. There is a moment when seeing the face of an old friend after many years when time stops. It takes a beat for the brain to catch up with the vagaries of time, as if each year is a slide in a child’s picture viewer. Your brain clicks through the slides until you arrive in the present and reconcile what once was, with what now is.
The ducks are mostly in order. Except for a few errant details that refuse to be taken care of until after I am out of the county, it seems I have a nice and neat packed away American life. I am amazed at how hard it is to check out of the system. I value the opportunities to step outside of the stream of daily American life and gaze into the inner workings of the American cultural machine. It is such a refreshing and much needed perspective. To see the tapestry of culture, relationships, expectations, contradictions, hypocrisies, achievements, and synapses for what they are. To embody the outsider’s perspective is a valuable place to be. This is where we grow. In the spaces between.
The days remaining are few. The panic that something important will be forgotten, the last remaining to do list almost complete, and the loose ties all satisfactorily tucked away is the indication that change is about to take place. Big change.
I am gulping in the frigid air and honoring the vigil of the mountains with the grace of a black bear in a blueberry patch at the end of summer. Storing memories for the long, sometimes lonely months to come. Thank you Home for cradling my tender heart for this brief time. I may be going forth into the world searching for my own Origins, but Alaska will always be the place I return to in times of sadness and joy. My touchstone. My polestar.
My life in Boulder has been packed away. What can be physically placed in boxes has, what responsibilities there were have been relinquished, and time has been spent with loved ones. What I am most grateful for has been the time spent with those who give me the continual inspiration to follow my heart and believe in my vision. To say that I will miss Boulder would be a lie. I am grateful for the growth that this place has forced me to confront and the challenges that continue to arise. Like a belligerent obnoxious relative, I love Boulder, but at this time I sure as hell don’t have to like it.
I will miss the deep existential conversations with people who share the same vocabulary. I will miss the casual ease of touch with strangers. I will miss the walks in the chill air, the sunshine on the foothills, and the plethora of coffee shops with almond milk and gluten-free pastries. Leaving Boulder is leaving the past behind. For those of you who are panicking that I am leaving for good, no worries, I will be back for my last year. Boulder is not home. It is a lily pad floating amidst the pond of possibility. I am ready to jump to the next lily pad. To leave behind the self that I choose to no longer identity with. The self who was so caught up in non-egoic ways of being that became willing to concede and compromise values. The self that lost sight of what it means to say no.
While I rode away from the mountains and headed down to the flat plains near the airport, I was torn between the desire to shed tears or give Boulder the bird. I did neither and instead said a blessing and turned my back on the past in order to face the present and future. I don’t know what the next lily pad(s) holds, but I am in the midst of the leap and the air above is refreshing.
I had the pleasure to spend an evening listening to the poetry and music of Turkish Sufi mystics. The musician tonight described the path of a mystic as one who recognizes that the Beloved has created beauty in the world. It is the quest of the mystic to travel the world to find the beauty with the intention of sharing it with others. What an inspiring sentiment. A humming started to vibrate in my heart space when I heard this; recognition. I hope that I may be one to share the beauty I experience in this world during the course of my travels. The written word is such a useful way to communicate beauty with the stroke of a brush, pen, or now computer key.
It feels liberating to share words as they dance across a page. Invoking the spirit of the mystics, traveling the world to discover beauty. Also knowing that the ride will not always be beautiful, at least not on the surface. Remembering moments from my last trip to India, I suspect I will throw tantrums over outrageous discrepancies, real and perceived inequalities, and cultural mis-communications. I also know I will fall in Love. With people, with places, with moments of surpassing beauty. I strive to maintain balance. To share moments of rawness. Moments that stand outside the bounds of dualism, outside the concepts of “good” or “bad.” To allow the beautiful moments to feed me and the trying moments to force me to grow.
I am traveling this time as a different person. In obvious realities, as a soloist and not a duet. In more subtle ways, as a changed body, as a changed psyche. I am proud to say that I have grown (at least I hope) since my last trip. There has been struggle and there has been ecstatic communion. I have allowed the vagaries of life to beat me into the dust at times, but I am now choosing Wholeness. I am not pretending to know what this always looks like, but I am dedicated to practicing wholeness in whatever form it takes.
In the quintessence of the Sufi mystics I hope that by striving to search and find the beauty in the world and sharing it with others, I will continue to rediscover my own embodied beingness. The ugly, gritty, colorful, foul, perplexing, astonishing, ___ness.
Eat your heart out loneliness.
The one way ticket has been purchased. The 10 year Indian visa still rests safely in the pages of my passport, and the rush begins to get all of my ducks in a row.
At the top of the list is finalizing research proposals. Although I will be physically out of the country, I will still be enrolled in school for the Spring semester. I am using the richness of this trip to influence my academic research. Both visually and written. Not only will I be documenting my trip through the written language, I will also be toting along a video camera. I am hoping to produce some sort of video diary/ documentary compilation of my adventures and misadventures. I know there will be at least a few.
The list that must be whittled away at before December 28th is long, but the butterflies in my stomach are starting to flutter in their familiar harbinger of the Unknown to come.
Excitement. Lots and lots of excitement.