I felt drawn to one particular rocky outcropping and climbed toward it. Once at the top I sat on the edge of the cliff and just took in the scenery, struck once again by how vast and utterly beautiful the earth is, and letting that beauty in as far as I could let it. Tears came to my eyes again - I had to let them come, and I noticed that part of me resisted doing so. Why? I think because as much as we want them, really feeling the full impact of things like beauty and love can feel very vulnerable. And, this is why so many of us stop ourselves from feeling fully, unwittingly robbing ourselves of beauty and life and complaining later of feeling empty or bored because of it. You cheat yourself out of life in exchange for an illusion of emotional protection.
So I let it in, and I did a little ritual I've been doing since we left - I reached out to the goodness and with the same hand I touched my heart. Just a small gesture to accentuate the intention: I see the soulful beauty in you, I am grateful for it, and I'm letting/taking it in.
The primary thing in being an artist isn't making art - it's having the artist's soul. It means recognizing the many beauties in the world and letting them flow through you and back out again.
Before we left on this trip, several people asked me what my purpose was in traveling. Among many other reasons, I often told them that I wanted to fully recharge my soul. A great life back home - a well paying job as a clinical psychologist, a nice house in a good neighborhood, a great group of true and fun friends, much of my core family and, after a long search for the right person, the love of my life in an awesome enriching relationship. And yet, after years of living in a city (especially one like Ottawa with its heavily left-brained mentality), working long hours in a meaningful but highly demanding job (mostly doing trauma/PTSD therapy) and just as a general consequence of living in this soul-deadening modern world, I felt tired. A weariness deep down inside me, probably imperceptible to most people. A feeling of disenchantment with the status quo, and one which came from a different place than when I was younger. And, on the other end of the spectrum, a deep desire to go explore and adventure in this beautiful world while I am still full of vitality and it hasn't gone full-ugly.
These feelings had been building for some time, but it was really since meeting Carr (who echoed many of the same feelings in her own heart) that they were catalyzed and consolidated into a plan and action. When I met her I felt something I had never felt before, and had not fully realized was missing: I felt like I was finally home. And when your heart finally finds its home, everything else starts to look different. You become someone else - someone better, happier, more authentic. And things which meant a lot before suddenly mean a lot less, perhaps because previously they were only a means to another end - an end you have already achieved.
All this to say: listen to your heart, listen to your soul. Learn how to, and then have the guts to follow what you hear. It's good for you.
Do I feel recharged? Yes!
Those were my reflections on the hike. A crow perched about 15 feet away from me on the cliff and we eyed each other for a while, in silence. After about 10 minutes he simply dropped off the cliff and in a moment was riding the wind fast and away. I watched him as he glided effortlessly toward the horizon, until he became so small I could not perceive him anymore. Everything I just said in this post would be obvious to that crow - he would not even understand the conflict I described, the conflicts we humans get into with our oversized brains. For him, there is not discrepancy, for him the time is always now and the place is always here.
One last thing - permit me some righteous indignation against the bozos who left an empty Nestle plastic water bottle and two beer cans on the cliff. What kind of moron comes out to nature to pollute and decimate it? I brought the bottles back with me, but that's not the point. Leave no trace, idiots!