We are still at our camp in the Organ Mountains National Monument, enjoying it a great deal. Yesterday I went for a pretty vigorous three hour hike by myself on the Aguirre Pine Trail, which goes up into the mountains and then back down on a 4 mile loop. It was a beautiful sunny day and pretty hot (26 degrees?), especially on the first part of the trail before the pine trees provided their shade. I saw no one else on the trail for the first two hours, after which I did encounter a couple of other people hiking as well, friendly and seemingly enjoying themselves.
Climbing up the mountain was a journey in itself... there's something about walking a path like that, by yourself in a ruggedly gorgeous place that takes you places beyond the actual trail. It was remarkably quiet up there, the only sounds a caressing breeze and an occasional gurgling stream. About halfway up I stopped to sit and meditate under the shade of an old, knotted juniper tree and felt the tremendous tranquility of the place. As I looked down into the valley and the plains below I was surprised to feel tears coming to my eyes - I felt deeply moved and overjoyed by the sheer pure wordless and in some ways ancient beauty of the place. And again a little later, by a knowing that I had found what I had been seeking, a feeling that I was supposed to be there... a felt confirmation that I had listened to my heart and it had brought me where I needed to be.
It can take a long time to learn how to actually listen to your heart and soul. We're taught from an early age how to stop attending to those inner voices, and to perform for others instead. We can sometimes end up pretty confused. And yet it is incredibly important, because those parts of you help you find your way, your joy, your meaning in life. I can't think of a time when I really listened to those parts of me and they led me astray. On the other hand I can think of many times when I did not listen and I became lost. There have been times when I thought I was listening, or when I talked myself into believing I was listening, but the voices I was attending to came from somewhere else... I used to regret those times until realizing that this is the way I learned to finally listen. So I've been learning, the hard way for a while, and now the easier way. When your heart speaks it brings with it a certain feeling, and through much trial and error I've learned to trust it - when you follow that feeling it brings good things.
This is why we had to take this trip. We both felt this in our hearts, independently for a long time, and together when we met. I know many people do, but they don't follow the feeling... they push it aside forever, or they tell themselves they will do it "some day", or they tell themselves they are being silly, etc. And the default/mainstream culture reinforces this, it rewards people tuning or numbing out and toiling away for the so-called machine. Anyway...
When I came down from the mountain Carr and I had a happy reunion, and we caught up on everything the other had missed. She had spent some time luxuriating in the hammock, reading and chilling out. There is some sort of ground squirrel living in a burrow close to our tent who is very entertaining!
We're both reading "The Dark Forest - Rememberance of Earth's Past", the second book in "The Three Body Problem" trilogy by Chinese author Liu Cixin, an impressive piece of science fiction recommended by my friend Glenn. I've also been reading "Still the Mind", a book on meditation by Alan Watts and "Is God a Mathematician?", a book by M. Livio my mother gave me. I went on a physics reading spree last summer - classical and quantum physics, astrophysics, etc. - and it's been cool to read the sci-fi with that knowledge in mind.