Here I am, on my final day of this magnificient adventure, taking a moment to reflect on my travels. I have traversed so much ground, much of it sacred to the Native People, all of it diverse and wonderful and unique unto itself. From the personality-filled Saguaro deserts in Tucson, to the red rock monoliths of Sedona, the epic Ponderosa Pine forests and snow-capped peaks of Flagstaff, to the ‘reality bites’ depths of Gallup, the incredibly poetic architecture of Santa Fe, the quiet bliss and ancientness of Taos Pueblo [where I first had snow fall], the quirky charm of Madrid, the restoration of Hot Springs [T&C], the majestic architecture of the Golden Gate Bridge, the colours of Chinatown, the spring flowers and the resonant fog horns of the Bay.
So much richness, so much diversity, so much to see, taste, smell, hear, feel and understand. To the reassuring comfort of my rental car, that was my trusty companion for much of this journey. To all the people I met with along the way, providing the universal constancy of human connection, which transcends race, colour, age and life experience. To all the wonderful art and craftsmanship I have been able to see and touch along the way.
Yesterday, I got caught out in La Nina, with a flimsy umbrella that could barely handle the combination of forces of wind and rain. I walked for an hour from the BART station to home, with soaked feet and wet hair, completely given over to the moment. Instead of focusing on the blisters, the cold, the wetness, the ridiculousness of the situation, I began to count my blessings. For this life, my friends, the fact that I was able to walk, to breathe, to experience, to feel. I made the choice to allow this condition I found myself in, completely vulnerable to the elements, to be a positive experience, one that would nourish and enrich my life. On and on, the recognition of gratitude flooded my heart and filled my face with a smile, until at least I realised that no external condition could possibly govern my happiness. It lives within me, prior to all conditions. It was an exhilarating realisation, for it foretold the possibility of perfect freedom from the implications of all that arises in this place we call home.
It is important to walk. It is important to cover new ground. It sharpens your senses, brings you into the present moment. Offers expansion of mind and spirit. Generates renewal. Inspires change, growth, reflection. Walking invigorates the body, enhances its functioning. It changes patterns in the brain. Helps give you space to resolve and problem solve with ease. Changes your body chemistry. Connects you to a common denominator of humankind. Connects you to the ancient past, when we were all nomadic and mobile people. Allows you to feel what it is to have nothing but your body, no attachments, no “things”, no encumbrances. Locating the disposition of unknowing. Finding perfect ease with that. Walk on, into the mystery, take the step before you know where your foot is going to land. Find the perfect freedom of living a life of unknowing. Be happy. Choose happiness. Choose where you will place your attention, and create a life founded on the attention of happiness. Abide in the mystery of existence and let that flow through you. And love all beings, especially the ones who struggle to locate happiness in their lives. Shine brightly on those whose light is dimmed by circumstance. What else is there to do in this crazy place we call home?