Slapped with blessings

My friend Peter always says “Whenever I complain, the Universe slaps me with a blessing.”
The same is true for me.

Just a few days ago, I posted a rant called “A day late and a few grands short.” I have since deleted it. It was too out of character. I mean, I do come with a full range of emotions. I’m not always happy, contrarily to what some of you seem to believe. But still, I felt that post didn’t represent the majority of how I feel or how I interact with the world, and most certainly it didn’t reflect my reality. I’ve included the original post below (Click here to skip to it), if nothing else, for the pleasure of having that flippant Bobcat walking away photo somewhere on this blog.

Here is the post where I set the record straight.

“How come I don’t get any financial abundance?” I whined.

Alright. Let’s look at this (in somewhat reverse chronological order). There was the time when …

  1. I had less than $100 to my name, when I met a Viking who offered to front me the cash to travel with him to Cuba. Work was waiting for me when we finally parted ways after adventuring for two months straight, to two countries and across the USA. Thank you Miles, my knight-viking in shining armor (or hiking skirt, depending on the occasion).
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  2. I returned to Sedona from a west coast book tour at 4 am, and with only $80. At 8 am – 4 hours later – I was woken up by a text from Benny of Earth tours saying that he hoped I was in town because he needed help for a special retreat with 4 Russian billionaires. The pay was good. The work was fun. The Russians tipped me $1000 for a day and a half of work.I didn’t need to work for the rest of that year. Thank you blood moon of 2015!
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  3. I left for a west coast book tour with less than $40. It wasn’t even enough to make it past Flagstaff, but I felt called to go anyway. I sold enough books in Flagstaff to get to South Lake Tahoe, sold enough books in South Lake Tahoe to drive to Ashland, sold enough books in Ashland to … and so forth. 6,000 miles later, I returned to Sedona with $80, having traveled to Canada, Burning Man, worked on a farm, kayaked, hiked, climbed, etc. (See the green loop on the roaming map) I never lacked for food or fuel. I even manifested some amazing free yoga pants along the way. Thank you, dozens of angels along the way.
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  4. After a few months in the Sedona desert, I was trying to finish the editing of my book, and was running really really thin on cash. I went to my storage unit to see if I had anything to sell, when a business card fell out of a box I was moving and landed at my feet. It was for Danita Delimont, an agent with whom I worked back when I was a photographer, almost ten years prior. I called on a whim, and she said “Melissa! Where have you been? We’ve had this royalty check here for you for years, but we didn’t know where to send it.” She Paypaled me the money within half an hour. Thanks Danita. Thanks business card for falling out.
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  5. One morning I woke up with $4, an empty fuel tank and an empty food box. I had $14 the night before, but went to a Ryan Montbleau show in Phoenix. It was worth it. I woke up thinking “Mmmh. I’m out again. Today should be interesting.” A few hours later, I met Benny, of Earth Tours, at a coffee shop. He had never successfully worked with an assistant, but he hired me on the spot and paid me a tour in advance. Boom! Money and a job, and a coworker better than any I could have dreamt. Benny has been part of much financial magic in my life since I met him. Thanks Benny! (and Thanks Ryan Montbleau for an awesome show).
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  6. I was in the negative in New Hampshire, worried about the approaching winter, when one of my yoga students introduced me to a rich lady with a 17.5 year old dog. The lady needed to travel to France but couldn’t leave the dog behind. I dog-sat that dog and lived in a small palace overlooking fields and the White Mountains for 7 weeks. She paid me well, and suddenly I had enough to drive back out west. I still stayed for another month in NH to finish my book, in the spare bedroom of an incredibly bright and loving Mother Goddess. She asked for nothing in return. She even gave me a private office to finish writing my book. Thank you Dawa (the dog) and Leah (the Goddess)!
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  7. I had $2.62 left (I took a picture of my statement) in New Hampshire, because I had just quit a job at a gear shop I didn’t resonate with and didn’t make enough from teaching yoga to cover my expenses, when out of nowhere a man I had met briefly at the gear shop but had never actually spent time with offered me $40/hr to help him clean windows of rich people’s homes on Nantucket island. I worked on Nantucket for two weeks, lived with Rich, and was spoiled with fresh seafood and friendship. When I returned to North Conway, I discovered that my tires were delaminating. I was able to buy a very nice set of offroad tires for exactly the amount I had made. It was like the Universe gave me the gift of new tires in a roundabout way. Thanks Rich!
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  8. Looking further back, there was the time when I found $184 in the trash can of a hotel in Big Bear City. Sorry thru-hiker who lost $184 while cleaning your gear. I made good use of it. Passed it on as magic to other hikers for the rest of the day, and only kept a $17 fee for myself. It seemed fair.
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  9. There was the time a hot air balloon landed on my truck in the middle of the desert and offered me a job. Say what? Yep. Thank you!
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  10. There was the time I walked the PCT on a credit card, and upon my return discovered the National Science Foundation had never reclaimed the $10,000 tuition funds deposited directly in my account. I also paid for my trip to India with that money. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
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And that’s not even the beginning of it. This happens to me ALL THE TIME. I mean read the book … sometimes, it’s just ridiculous.

My friend Carrot Quinn said that she feels the Universe is on a matching program. Whatever effort you put in, you will be met with magic of the same amount. I definitely get more than I put in.

So, now the record is straight. I have nothing to whine about. At all! I am, actually, exactly where I need to be. If I had been more successful financially earlier, I’d have missed out on all these juicy last-minute rescues, the dozens of odd jobs, the gifts, miracles and serendipities. I wouldn’t have been flooded with gratitude as I have been. Gifts are always more potent when contrasted to a stark background.

I just got a job offer last night. I’ll be taking off for Colorado in a few weeks. So, my “spot” in the desert is vacant and up for grabs. And my Appalachian Trail walk is funded (with potential surprises and detours along the way). All is well. As always.

XOXO
Roaming Bobcat.

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The original post:

A day late and a few grands short …

by the Roaming Bobcat

Here’s something out of character. I’m going to vent. I want to vent.

Let me back up, before I start … so, a few nights ago, I went back to the desert a little later than I usually do. It was already dark. When I got to “my spot” there was a van parked there. A man was tending to the fire, a woman was playing with a dog. It happens. Sometimes, I get home and I find someone in my living room. Usually, I don’t mind. Usually, I understand that the views from my living room are exceptional, that it is the only place on the whole hill with 3G, full bar cell-phone reception, and that the fire ring has some wood already stacked. The place just screams “perfect camp. Welcome!” Usually, the campers are weekenders. I turn around right at the spot – sometimes gracefully, sometimes less – and camp somewhere else. The next day, they go home, and I get my home back.

But this time was different. I knew that van. I had seen it in town on and off since last year. It had a big logo on the side: “Where’s my office now”. These were desert dwellers like myself, living out on the land, and they had just found my perfect camp. I turned around in front of their van with a sinking feeling. I parked just down the road a bit, because I wanted to stay close to see what their patterns were. You know, us, big cats, that’s what we do. We don’t pounce right away … we study patterns, and when we have established a fail-proof plan of attack we go for it. I wanted to see when they arrive, when they leave, and such, to be sure I can get there before they do.

Well, that backfired. For the first time in all the years I’ve slept in the truck, a mouse crawled in … I don’t even know through where … and landed between the truck bed liner and the truck bed. I could hear it. Poor thing was panicking. I was not much calmer. The only way I knew out of there was through the hole where the clamp to hold the shell is. I shone my light on the hole and waited. I even set up a small tub of strawberry jam to entice it out. FINALLY, after hours of waiting, I saw its whiskers. It saw me, got scared and turned around, pointing its tail out of the hole. All I had to do was grab its tail and set it free. But, well, it was a mouse. I stared at it. Didn’t move. It went back in. By then it was past midnight. I plugged the clamp hole and tried to sleep. I don’t know how the mouse got back out – presumably through the hole it used to crawl in. Bottom line was, I had an epic night and was exhausted the next day. I left the desert before the van did. No patterns learned.

The next day, I went to the desert by mid-afternoon. I was first in the spot. The van showed up at sunset, and with it another van. Great! Now they were inviting friends.

The next day, I went to the desert even earlier. I wrote the van-dwellers a note I planned on leaving, in case I couldn’t “beat them to it” the next day. The note said “You are welcome to stay here, but please don’t spit toothpaste on the ground, don’t walk on the flowers, don’t …” Once the note was written, I had to be honest with myself. I wasn’t welcoming them at all. It was a passive-aggressive note thinly disguised as a leave-no-trace reminder. They never drove by that night. I thought, “Good, maybe they’ve driven their office elsewhere.”

But as the next day progressed, I noticed an oppressing feeling on my chest. I was actually having anxiety about this. What if I couldn’t camp in my spot? So much for non-attachment! Luckily, that night – last night – I was first there again. The van drove by in the dark. I didn’t move, but I felt that anxiety again. So, I did what I do. I explored the anxiety. Since that’s what was up, I figured I might as well learn from it. What did anxiety feel like in my body? I didn’t try to intellectualize the whys or hows, I just observed it. I fell asleep holding sweet little Anxiety in my arms.

And here my post actually starts.

This morning, a lovely brunette – the woman from the van – came running by my truck. I jumped on the occasion to solve my quandary. If I couldn’t make them go home, I might as well befriend them. Of course, she was genuine, fun, friendly, and had all the qualities you’d expect in a van-dweller. She and her partner have been living in the van since 2013, she told me, embracing a nomadic life. How do they survive? They have thousands of followers on Instagram, and therefore are attracting sponsors. Wait. What? So, you post pictures of you living in your van, and people pay to see the photos of you living in your van? Yep. That’s correct.

WT .. I’ve been living in my truck since 2011 (with time off to walk long trails and travel, a few months indoors when I met Chris, and another few months indoors in winter in New Hampshire). It would have never dawned on me that people would care. I mean, aside from my friends. Would you take pictures of your bedroom and post them? No, well, me neither.

This got me thinking. About 5 months ago, I met another lovely, incredibly badass lady. That lady published a book exactly a month before I published mine. Her book is great, but so is mine. She is making a living from Kindle dividends now, and getting sponsors to hike long trails. Am I? Hell no! Not by a long shot. What’s the difference? She has 5000 followers on her blog. How did she do that? She just posts about her life on the trail, every day. Again, that would have never dawned on me. I just wouldn’t feel like I have anything that interesting to say every day.

“Dude! Just this year, you flew one-way to Cuba, hitchhiked back on a boat to Florida, hitched cross-country on I10, you live in the desert, and you’re about to go hike the AT on no money at all. And you don’t think your life is interesting?” my friend said.
My life is my life. It’s normal to me. I guess.

Instead of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – I’m having FOHMO – Fear of having missed out. What if I had kept a blog back when I walked the PCT? Oh, wait, I did. I lost my audience when I started posting spiritual posts. What if I had actually written about Cuba when I was there? Nah, I was too busy living that adventure. It required all my attention. What if I had Instagrammed my way across the country? What if I had learned about hashtags sooner? What if my book came out 5 months earlier, right when the wave of Cheryl Strayed Wild was still hot? What if …

There are people out there doing exactly what I’m doing, and making a living from it. WTF.

Yes, I could copy them … and I am. I’m Kindling like the badass lady with the blog, and I’m hashtagging like the lovely lady in the van. And I feel like a side character, the #2, not the Captain – almost as good. This is the movie of my own life. Why aren’t I the friggin’ leading lady? With the wild imagination I have been accused of having, couldn’t I be my own creative genius. Couldn’t I hit that secret jackpot that lets me be exactly who I am, and poof! abundance flows in because of it.

Or do I think too highly of myself? Humility – is that what I’m missing? Should I feel gratified to know that the Universe is placing people in my path to show me what is possible. And isn’t it my own blindness that instead sees in them lack by contract?

I know others in that boat. I know incredibly talented individuals who have dedicated months to years to building a social media dream, only to be ignored at best and poopooed at worse. What’s the difference? Intent? Am I going to have to fall back on spirituality for this one? Is this one of those … to every monk there is a path, and for some reason, you have chosen to explore living in misery, but it’s all for the Greater Good. Or worse … did you just see the sentence I wrote? These bad thoughts I’m having are creating the blockages that impede the oncoming flow of abundance that’s waiting right around the corner, and man, when that dam breaks, I will be flooded. Yes, I am rolling my eyes … more body language blockages.

Sigh … Hello Frustration. Hello Confusion. Hi Tinge of Anger. Welcome aboard. I shall be your bodily vehicle for the moment. Please be sure to express yourself fully, keep all hands and feet inside at all times, so as to not spill over onto my social media life. I have a reputation to uphold. I am the Roaming Bobcat.  #ilovemylife #asitshouldbe #abundance #iamenough #yadeyaah #whatever.

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Happy One of my Most Special Days to me!

[Below this post are my Dad’s corrections, sent to me via email]

My body took its first breath on September 7th, 1970. Isn’t it funny how that day has been celebrated my whole life as more special than the other 364?
Truth is, after just 45 years of living, I could celebrate each day as a personal holy day.
Like April 17th – when I started walking the PCT, April 9th – when I awoke to my spiritual self in Death Valley, April 5th – when I started writing my first book, April 9th – when I wrote in that book about what happened in Death Valley on April 9th of a few years prior, April 10th – when I came to the US.

On April 10th, 1992, at 2:10 pm, I landed in LAX. It might as well have been another planet.

And I mean “other planet”. Let me put this in perspective …

This is all I knew:

This is where I landed:

Now, if you just had the thought that you’d much prefer the first locale, that’s fine … for you.

I think I had island fever by the time I was 5 years old. I slept in an American flag sleeping bag, had a bumper sticker on my bedroom door that warned visitors “proud to be an American”, and often stared at my reflection in the mirror mouthing nonsensical drawled out sounds, to see what I’d look like when I got older and actually learned to speak English.
My French parents humored my obsession by keeping a supply of beef jerky, lemon pepper seasoning and peanut butter in the house. French kids didn’t eat peanut butter back then. And corn on the cob was downright sacrilegious. “Why are you feeding her pig food?” Was my very-French grandmother’s reaction to corn on the cob.
But, luckily, my parents understood wanderlust. I was born in Los Angeles by the grace of their adventurous spirits, and their common love for America.

My parents lived in Los Angeles for 5 years prior to my birth. My Dad worked as an exotic car mechanic. I don’t know what was exotic about the cars, but I know that he personally handled Katharine Hepburn’s car needs. My mom was a teacher at a Montessori school. She taught French songs to small American kids, just as she would later teach me American songs. They spent their weekends exploring the wilder side of so-cal, especially Death Valley, where I supposedly was conceived. Their life was one big adventure, and they created an amazing set of stories to share with the conventional, settled world they had left in France.

Until, I showed up.
Then, they bumped it up a notch.

Los Angeles was a fine place for two adventurous adults, but not for two illegal adventurous adults with a newborn baby girl – 1970s LA was epically polluted.

As I usually imagine it in my head, they spread out a world map and looked for the remotest island possible. Tahiti had potential, but my aunt already lived there, so that island was occupied. They picked the next farthest one … New Caledonia.

I was 3 months old when my parents landed in New Caledonia. I grew up naked in the sun and the red dirt, took my first steps in a quanza hut – that was our home for a few years – and day dreamed about the US while “trapped” on endless pristine white sand beaches surrounded by impossibly clear and warm ocean water.

I always said I would come back home to the US some day. I said it so often that it became an integral part of my personality. I was an American on an island. Always different. Always special.

Until one day somebody called me out on it. I don’t remember his name. He was a rep for a printing paper company. I worked for a computer dealer, and had a bit of a crush on him. He loved the US as much as I did, and whenever he visited my office, we day dreamed together of wide open deserts, Joshua Trees and coyotes.
“Someday, I’ll move back to the US.” I told him, again.
We were sitting on a sidewalk in downtown Noumea with sandwiches on my lunch break. “Yeah! Good luck getting a green card.”
“I don’t need a green card. I was born in LA. I have an American passport.”
“You do!? So … Huh, why are you still here?”

DING!

That was it. That was the moment. That was the cue. That was the shift.
I didn’t even answer him.
I didn’t even finish my sandwich.
I got up, walked across the plaza, and bought a one-way plane ticket for two weeks later.

That evening, I returned to the studio I shared with my boyfriend of 5 years. I told him I was going to the US, and that I’d marry him if he wanted to come with me and try to get a green card. He didn’t.
Instead, he drank an entire bottle of vodka and collapsed onto our bed. I packed my belongings and left. That was the last time I saw him.

When I got to my parents’ house, everybody was gone. My mom and sister were visiting friends in Touho – a small village a few hours from Houailou, on the jungly eastern side of the island, where I grew up – and my Dad was somewhere out at sea.
Two weeks prior – and Dad can correct me on this, if my memory is faulty – he had decided to motor his fishing boat all the way to the Isle of Pines. A pretty ballsy move for that size boat. But having kids and settling on an island never really took the adventurous edge off either of my folks.
Dad had made it, with dolphins on each side of the boat celebrating his success. But on the way back, he had been caught in a perfect storm. I believe he survived on optimism alone.
I watched him stumble down the driveway on wobbly sea legs. He looked ragged, with a few days beard, a sunburnt nose and several pounds lighter. He casually let himself drop on the sofa. He didn’t ask right away why I was there. We just sat in knowing silence, like two people with such good stories to tell that rushing into them would have been rude.
“So … what’s new with you?” Dad gave me the floor.
“I’m moving to the US. I broke up with David and quit my job. I leave in two weeks.” I said casually.
“Hmm. Great. You’ll like the Americans.” He nodded and smiled approvingly. That was it.

My Mom’s reaction was to buy me a suitcase. That suitcase held my entire life when I landed in LAX – a pair of jeans, a few tee shirts and underwear, my American flag sleeping bag, two unnamed stuffed cats – a tiger and a lion, currently behind me, the driver side of the truck, as I’m typing this – and about 15 comic books from a series called Thorgal, I just couldn’t do without.

My sister also wished me luck, in her own way. She confessed that she hadn’t cared for me much growing up – she was 13 years old by then – but that I had turned out alright in the end, and that she was likely to miss me.

With these blessings and gifts, I left never to return. I became an island girl in America. Always different. Always special.

Someday, I’ll write the story of my first day in LA. But that story would take a whole post, and my stomach is letting me know I’ve been writing well past lunch time.

Eventually, the “island girl” in me faded and integrated, reduced to nothing more than a slight lingering accent I’d have gladly discarded if could have. I like the American version of myself I have become. I feel so at home here, that I hardly remember that I once upon a time lived far away on another planet, and wished so hard to be where I am today.

I only remember on April 10th.


P.S: On April 12th, 1992, two days later, I drove into Joshua Tree national monument for the first time with my cousin Jeff, from LA. The sun had just set when we reached the entrance. The Joshua Tree’s alien-looking branches were silhouetted against my first desert sunset. And just then, a coyote crossed the road!

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A few days ago, I posted a story about my arrival to the US from a small tropical island in the South Pacific.

Here are my Dad’s corrections, translated for your convenience (original email below).

Hello, my … American daughter,

I carefully read your post by the above title [Happy One of my Most Special Day to me!]. All is well with it and it accurately represents reality . Of course, I will not intervene in your personal story, but I can correct some minor “historic” errors … or my lack of memory … none of which change the value of what you have written.

  • To begin with, with my memory problems, I don’t believe there was, ever, any peanut butter in the house (I hate it! …), but, if you say there was … 
  • I lived for 4 years (1967 – 1971) in LA and Mom a little less than 3 years (July 68 – January 71).
  • Your aunt was a bit young when we left for New Caledonia. She was not yet in Tahiti. It is possible that she had already met Robert [my uncle, who is from Tahiti]. She came, first, to New Caledonia where Robert and her were married (in Noumea), then left for Tahiti around 1975 or 1976. In fact, we felt that Tahiti was too small for our need for wide open spaces. Our one-way plane tickets were from LAX->Sydney, but in the end we stayed in New Caledonia after discovering our beloved east coast.
  • When you came home after deciding to leave for the US, Mom and Goule [our nickname for my sister] were in the Isle of Pines (not Touho). Mom had flown to the island and Goule had sailed with me on the Chouchou [my Dad’s boat], but she refused to get back on the boat for the way back. To be fair, we navigated on the way there smack in the middle of cyclone “Betsy”. I navigated the way back … in one of the worst “western episode” [crazy winds from the west] New Caledonia has ever know!…
  • Your sister was 15 when you left (1977 -> 1992) [Actually, she was 14, so we’re both wrong. She was born on April 13th – which is today in New Caledonia because they are already tomorrow – so she hadn’t turned 15 yet. I still think of her as the “little sister” – it’s hard to keep track :-)]
Here are my few adjustments … just in case you decide to write a book from your memories.
 

Kissesssss

MyDad [Monpapa – one word – is what I call him]
[Featured below, the famous, original Chouchou (not to be confused with Chouchou II) that crossed the ocean in a cyclone and came back in a “coup d’ouest”. Not photoshopped, the water is really that clear.]

 
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Salut ma fille… Américaine,
 
J’ai lu, avec beaucoup d’attention, le texte dont le titre est ci-dessus. L’ensemble est très bien et représente correctement la réalité. Bien sur je n’interviendrai pas sur ce qui t’est personnel mais je peux corriger certaines petites erreurs « historiques » ou… mon manque de mémoire… Ce qui ne change en rien, d’ailleurs, sur le bien fondé de tout ce que tu as écrit.
 
  • Déjà, pour commencer par la mémoire, je ne pensais pas qu’il y eut, un jour, du peanut butter à la maison (j’ai horreur de ça !…), mais si tu le dis
  • J’ai vécu 4 ans (1967 – 1971) à L–A et Maman un peu moins de 3 ans (juillet 68 – janvier 71) .
  • Ta tante était bien jeune lorsque nous partîmes pour la Nouvelle-Calédonie. Elle n’était pas encore à Tahiti. Il est possible qu’elle connaissait déjà Robert. Elle est venue d’abord, avec Robert, en Nouvelle-Calédonie où ils se sont mariés (à Nouméa) puis sont partis pour Papeete en 75 ou 76. En fait, nous trouvions Tahiti bien trop petit pour nos envies de grands espaces. Nos billets d’avion, one-way, indiquaient L-A -> Sydney mais nous sommes restés, finalement, en Nouvelle-Calédonie après avoir découvert notre Côte Est.
  • Quand tu es revenue à la maison après ta décision de partir, Maman et Goule étaient à l’Île-des-Pins (pas à Touho). Maman était venue en avion et ta sœur avec moi sur le Chouchou mais refusait d’y remonter. Il faut dire que nous avions fait la traversée, à l’ aller, en plein dans le cyclone « Betsy » et que j’ai fait, deux semaines plus tard, le retour… dans le pire « coup d’ouest » que la Calédonie ait connu !
  • Ta sœur avait 15 ans à ton départ (1977 -> 1992).
Voilà mes quelques précisions… au cas où tu ferais un livre de tes souvenirs !
 
Bisousssss
 
MonPapa

Crazy Free

Hey, what happened to the Roaming Bobcat? You ask. Why isn’t she writing blog posts anymore?
Well, because all her writing was channeled into one place.
I wrote a book.
It’s a fat book, almost 400 pages.
And you can read the prologue and the back cover on www.crazyfreebook.com
You can order it from there too, for a donation.

I’m feeling a second book coming on, but it’s indistinct so far.
I’ll rest first.
Writing a book was pretty epic!

Love you my readers.
XOXO.

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Tripping Balls

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I have now smoked pot three times in my adult life, and all I’ve gotten were rolled-eyes and shaken-heads when I’ve told the stories.
“You can’t trip this bad on pot.” They say. “It must have been laced.” They say. Yeah, maybe. Or, maybe Bobcat’s brains are just not designed to handle the stuff.

The first time, I was 24 years old. I had driven to San Francisco to see about a boy I liked. It was my first evening in his apartment. I didn’t want to appear a bore and assured him “Of course, I smoke!” A few minutes later, I was precariously perched on the edge of the cliff that appeared in the middle of his living room, holding on for dear life and fighting the urge to plunge into the dark abyss below. Then I was all dressed in the shower with no recollection of how I got there. The boy I liked looked worried.
“Get out of there. We’ll take your clothes off and I’ll put you in bed.” This was bad, very bad. I didn’t have time to complain. I was soaking wet, sitting in his closet. Whoever “he” was. I couldn’t recall. I was scared and crying. Then I was in bed, wearing his clothes. I have no memory of the changing process. I fell asleep convinced I wouldn’t wake up. I died then. And then dated that boy for four years.

The second time, I was 39 years old. I took one puff on my boyfriend’s pipe. It was my idea. I was stressed with school and wanted the kind of relief I saw in his eyes when he smoked. But, within a few minutes, there was no relief in his eyes, but flames. In fact, he was the devil, and the wall behind him was a roaring fire. I crawled backwards onto the bed into the corner, scared out of my gourd. I reappeared next to his bicycle. I was turning the pedal with my hand. He was still the devil. I was going to die. I reappeared in his bed, on my knees, hands in a prayer motion. “Please God, make it stop, make it stop.”. The boyfriend was yelling at me “What the fuck is wrong with you? Do you have some sort of brain problem you’ve never told me about?” Then my roommate came. I didn’t know who she was either, but she sure seemed more trustworthy than he did. She held my hand until 2 in the morning.
“I’m gonna die.”
“No, you’re fine. You’re not gonna die.” I already forgot we had the conversation, and immediately started over. She was a good friend. 

The third time, was a few nights ago. I was camped in some ancient ruins in a cave overlooking a grandiose vista of a starry night, with a friend I will call B. I’ve met B only a few weeks ago. He is a calm and collected man. He seemed like someone who could handle me if shit hit the fan. Curiosity got the cat to the bowl.
Again, I took just one puff, and before he even had put the pipe away, I was tripping balls. The world beyond the ruins disappeared into a black hole. I walked back against the wall of the cave for support. B told me “Just ride it out.”

That’s about all I remember clearly or consistently.
But, I did get my journal, at some point.
So, here we go. This is the account as it happened, for entertainment purposes only.

“I don’t know what will come out of this. But I’m going to try anyway.
Too many words.
I smoked pot and I’m “tripping balls” as B would say. I wrote this because I think tomorrow it will amuse me to read balls.
My body is writing this, but my consciousness is shifting realities. It is “going” to the physical location of any thought I have, any event I talk about, and other places in full awareness. Meanwhile, my body is by the fire, having a conversation with B of which I recall none of the words because I was elsewhere. I have visited past, parallel present and future realities. These are actually impressions in a timeless singularity. There is currently no past or future. Now I am here, wondering if I’m full of shit. Still, my experience remains.

I am conscious of turning the page.
B is smoking a cigarette by the fire. I sense that this reality should feel normal, but it is too shifty to feel real. It will be dismantled before I can document. It is already dismantled.
I have no recollection of writing the paragraph since I turned the page. B shifted by the fire. I remember what reality I am in – still a little fuzzy on the time period. I just saw myself create the next sentence. I was in the future when it happened, then returned here to write it. Fast forward and back. I went to tomorrow to read it. The morning sun was shining. Memories are sticking around a little longer now. Each moment is like a slide in an eternal slide show. And a cricket just appeared to bring me back. B is reading now. I wasn’t here when he got his book. I just returned from a few minutes in the future. We will be talking then. I know what will be said. I am only in each “time zone” for a second, maybe not even that long. B said – just returned from there – B said that if I eat something it will pass quicker. But, I put one plantain chip in my mouth – back from my desk in my room in New Hampshire. Ryan was talking to me – plantain – forgot what I was writing about, but I remember it was important. Just returned from when I got my journal, whenever ago in the past that was. I’m glad I got it. If I’m gonna trip balls, at least – just returned from – where was I anyway. I already forgot. Right! Balls! Now my body is laughing because I said balls. Now it is laughing because I wrote balls. Now I am laughing out loud at this set of sentences.
Man, this is intense!
I remember! Yes, I was gonna talk about – just came back from that moment – plantain – OMG! Brain, stay put for a sec! I put the plantain in my mouth and suddenly the flavor was too intense to bear – Was in Tahiti just now with Vatea on the docks. They didn’t have plantain there. Not only was the taste crazy, but it felt like the whole chip swelled up – Hold on, I just got an important insight into reality. Now it’s gone. What was I even talking about?I asked B for some water in a voice I didn’t recognize as mine. I was just in Paris, at a place I don’t know. It was raining. I’ve never been there. There is a writer somewhere I visited just now. In a white shirt with suspenders. A white house. A plantation maybe. Florida? Back to B reading his book. I think I was done talking about plantains.
Oh! I remember … I am traveling to alternate realities that are further on the — B laughed. I lost my thought. I wish they’d stick around longer. I wonder if this will seem like utter nonsense tomorrow. I was there though. And I just returned from the edge of a canal. Where? I don’t know.
Fuck. Ok. I’m gonna ride it out for a bit. I’ll be back.

[some time (whatever that means) later]

So, who’s doing the conversing with B and the writing in this journal while I am gone? I mean, I can hear myself, and I sound totally present – except I don’t know what just happened or what I just said because I was elsewhere. What animates my body when consciousness is traveling away from my body? Or is there no body while I’m not here? Like if I were skipping slides in the slide show of reality.

[I have a sketch of this]
O XXXXX O X=missing slides. O=points of entry.

This looks ridiculous. But that’s what’s happening.
Yeah.  I don’t know.
I am not writing this anywhere else. I just checked. There is no parallel reality in which I am recording this.
This is so weird. I can’t conceive of skipping slides. If slides are skipped then who thinks the thoughts that are created to write this text here that I am writing?
I just read “there is no word”
I don’t know where. Maybe in this journal. Maybe elsewhere.
I am grateful to B for being exactly who he is right now. I just returned from a reality where someone was trying to hold and comfort me. This caused a lot of stress. At least here, I don’t have to worry about what’s going on with my body. I need no awareness for conversation or functioning.
I just forgot who B was. A presence across the fire. But he seems familiar. I seem fond of him even when I don’t know who he is. When I go, I go alone, except for parallel realities that are linked to this fire. When I go to reality with this fire, then B comes too, but not in the physical form of the reality in which I am writing this. I was just in a castle in ?
B said there is an owl – maybe a little owl wisdom would be nice. Seriously! How do people do drugs any harder than this? So unsettling. Am I unsettled?
Well, at least I’m not fearful, so that’s good.
I don’t feel in danger, and I have a good sense that eventually I’ll be here longer.
I just looked at my shoes twice.
I don’t remember what happened in between.
Owl hoots. I see my shoes. Maybe it is helping me to come back. Yes. Owl hoots calling me home. I welcome it if it is so. I’ll be happy to be in my body full time again. Or not skipping slides. Whatever.

[some time (whatever that means) later]

I ate something and I think the effects are lessening a little. I am not as “real” in those other places as I am here.
I vaguely remember being scared when it began, probably from bad past experiences. Now that I’ve gotten used to it, being just here feels a little “flat”. I can’t find a better word yet. Here. “Here” feels small by itself, maybe like a comfortable childhood home after a round the world journey.
There is this rock here in particular that looks very familiar. I just saw myself tomorrow, giggle at how nonsensical that last sentence will seem.

[some time (whatever that means) later]

So, I am only partially right. I don’t recall where I’ve been as crisply anymore, but I am definitively not “back” yet. The owl stopped hooting. I have reached a state of trust. I don’t know what my body is doing while I’m gone, but I trust it to continue to appear normal. I just set up camp – precise movements I know by heart. Next thing I know I’m writing in my journal from my sleeping bag. I was not involved in the setup process. Oh … I can almost see where I just was. There must be boundaries between realities. Maybe one-way valves that don’t let memories back through. I return with impressions here, then create images in my mind to match these impressions. But, that’s because the original images can’t make it through.
Oh, I have questions! Maybe best I ask them tomorrow.
One question I won’t be able to answer tomorrow because I won’t remember how I feel right now is Why can’t memories of parallel journeys be brought back? Because of how this feels. I think that’s what insanity would feel like. Shifting realities and not remembering which one is “ground”. I count this one, in which I am writing this, as ground because when I’m here – and I seem to return here more consistently – the others are fainter. Though, I suppose this one could feel faint when I am elsewhere. I don’t know. It doesn’t feel important.
Why was I so scared the other two times I smoked pot? I guess I feared losing my mind permanently because I didn’t remember going elsewhere. I was just missing large chunks of my own story with no explanation – like finding myself fully dressed in the shower or by the bicycle. Maybe I was scared because I didn’t trust my body left “unattended”.
I guess this is one major difference. I feel good here, being me, and I trust B. I feel safe in the ruins.
I vaguely remember telling him “I’ve known you for a while” or something like that early on. It’s just a flash of a memory. I wasn’t here very consistently then. I flipped through realities quickly with him for a bit, all had to do with the fire. It was the anchor for the duplication of this one reality with B. I saw him by the fire across lifetimes and time periods, in different forms. I didn’t look at his face, but his feet and bottom of pants/shorts changed rapidly. We were in the steps of Mongolia. He had black feet in the Serengeti. On a sand dune by an oasis. Others. More. We were family, partners, lovers, then back to friends, right here. It feels weird to write this now. And I’m (this body) here will think it’s utter bullshit tomorrow.
Hey, I don’t know. Maybe it’s all in my brain. Altered chemicals with weird side effects. But then, isn’t perception of reality always in the “brain”, a receptor/decoder for consciousness. “I” didn’t move, but I was conscious elsewhere. Maybe all realities are in my head – stories to experience impressions.
Yes, of course they are. I just can’t conceive that they are.
I was here for a long moment just now, and I liked it.
I’m just going to sleep it off now.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll just be here.

Bobcat – or whoever I am – out.”

Home (“here”, “ground”), the next morning: caveruins

Freedom, according to the Bobcat

Freedom

Freedom just is
It doesn’t ponder, wonder or agonize over its own existence
It doesn’t care if you believe in it or not
It has no preference about what color you paint it, what attire you make it wear, or what box you cram it in
Freedom just is

But, if you choose to adopt it
Then it becomes your responsibility
To protect it with all your might
From rampant fears
Entrapment, stagnation and mundanity
To feed it clean air, fresh water and wide open spaces
To write songs, stories and poetry
To incite others
To adopt it as well

And so forth
Until the world is taken over

from Lake of Dreams

Namaste

One of my favorite parts of teaching yoga happens right after Savasana.
Students are just coming out of complete release, complete dissolution of mind and body, and slowly getting ready to reintegrate the rest of the day and of their life – hopefully changed.
This is the part where whatever gift they have acquired as a result of their practice in my class can be pocketed for later use, or to be regifted – even better.
My task, as teacher, is to help them fit it in their pocket, and I have a little litany to help with that. I have observed my little litany evolve over the past ten months of its own accord.
I am very fond of its current version, so I will share it with you here.

Bring your hands together in front of your heart
Deep breath in
and out slowly

Inhale, place your hands on your brow, your third eye area
We give gratitude for clarity of sight
knowing what our path is
And walking it confidently
Even, if it is just one step at a time. 

Exhale, place your hands to your throat area
We give gratitude for clarity of expression
Knowing our authentic self
And being that person in the world
Recognized, and celebrated as such

Inhale, place your hands back to your heart
Find your own, individual gratitude,
Whatever YOU have to be so amazingly grateful for
Bring an image into your mind if it helps

Exhale, slowly let go of the image
but keep the feeling in your heart

I am grateful for you today
Thank you for coming to class
Namaste

That’s it. Though, sometimes, instead, I recite the first several paragraphs of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”, and I feel that my students leave with even more wisdom in their pocket.

XO – I am grateful for you, thank you for reading. Namaste.

A dream: Out of body inceptions

Around 6 am this morning, Minou – the cat of the house – came back from his hunt to finish the night with me. He jumped on the bed, stepped across my body and curled up in the space between my arm and my ribs. He then started kneeding me, with claws. I meant to move my arm to either get myself out of arm’s way or to make the cat go away, but realized I could not move my physical body at all. “I’m having Rigor Mortis – I actually meant Sleep Paralysis – that’s the first step in out of body experiences. I wonder if I’ll hear the buzzing too.” Sure enough, buzzing in my ears, almost immediately.

Then I was in an hotel room, laying on the bed in the same position except the cat was my friend Alan sitting at the foot of the bed. I sat up and we moved to the kitchen. His body was very old, but his spirit inside was still the 37 year old I know. I petted his head as though he were the cat. His skull was covered in aging spots and his hair was falling off in patches. I was still very fond of him. And I was also still very tired. I curled up on his knee and fell asleep, and he began petting my head. I was aware in my sleep (level 2) that something was not quite right, so I tried to wake myself out of it by modifying my breathing – I do that sometimes when I want to wake up; it usually works – but I couldn’t wake up and I still couldn’t move. I was paralyzed in level 2 as well.

Then I was in the same hotel room, except everything was very white and bright. The walls, ceiling and all the furniture in the room were white. Alan and I were dressed in white. But, still I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right – in fact, it was very wrong and my intuition told me I needed to get out of there, now! I once again modified my breathing to wake up out of level 3, and I almost succeeded. I was aware in level 3 of the hotel room in level 2, where Alan was still petting my head, but I couldn’t break back through all the way.

“Looks like we’re stuck here for a while, but we need to get out of this room.” I told Alan in the white room. I said “Come on” and ran to the door, then through the door.

Alan and I were standing in the corridor and I was shocked. “I’m not physical! I can walk through matter here!!” I looked at my hands. “Look!” I swiped my hand through the wall and the door, and felt nothing. I turned to look around. The corridor was about a hundred feet long, ten feet wide and thirty feet high, completely white as well. White doors lined one side all the way to the end, where a white door closed off the corridor. The other side was all large glass windows. I figured we must have been pretty high up because all I could see was blue sky out of the window. There were massive elaborate chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, like mobiles made from thousands of suspended pieces of mirror about a square inch each. But, still, I felt something very wrong was going on. I was in danger. This was not a hotel, it was an institution and I was there against my will.

Then something moved behind the door at the end of the corridor, and I made a run for it to save myself. I ran straight at the window, but as I got closer time slowed down. I was running in slow motion and I could see Alan was as well. I jumped up into and across one of the chandeliers. Time slowed so much that I had time to think “I wonder if the windows are especially designed to contain non-physical entities? I wonder if I’ll crash against the window or simply pass through it? And if I pass through it, I wonder how high up I’ll be? And will I be able to fly? And what is below?” My shoulder finally reached the glass, which shattered in a million fragments. The action stopped. I was suspended in the blue sky surrounded by a million pieces of broken glass mixed in with the mirrors from the chandelier, all glittering in the sunlight. I had no thought, no sensation, no breath.

Then the action reengaged to full normal speed and I landed on my feet in a garden. The garden was at the foot of a massive square white building with two shattered windows far, far up. I knew Alan had made it to the garden, but I couldn’t see him yet.

The garden was a large field. In a rough oval shape were tiny plots of fenced land – about 6 by 3 feet in size – every ten feet of so. To each garden was a guardian. The guardians were slaves, tied to each plot and forced to grow food for the inmates of the hotel/institution. They could never leave. They slept in tiny shacks on the back side of each plot, too small to actually fit a human body at rest. Their cheeks were sunken; their clothes were tattered. Some were raising chickens, but most were responsible for a single crop of vegetables. I decided to visit each one in turn to see if I could figure out where I was and what was going on.

I knew I didn’t need to walk because I was not physical, so I could think myself in a different location and instantly be there. But, because I didn’t want to be caught, I thought myself a chicken in a different location, then I was a chicken in that location. The only problem was that I still had my PCT cape on, and I couldn’t think myself without it, so I appeared by each plot as a chicken with a cape – which was just as conspicuous as if I were to walk around as myself.

The main attendant was coming and suddenly all the gardeners had a flurry of activity. He walked over to the chicken plot for an inspection, so I thought myself in a place where I would be out of his sight, but could see him. I knew him. He was one of my former bosses, and not an easy one to work for. I could also see that Alan was walking straight towards him. Bad news.

I thought myself across the field, grabbed Alan’s hand and thought us both by the door of the building, then immediately in the reception hall, in front of the concierge’s desk. “Hi, we’d like a room please?” The concierge turned to grab one of the keys on the wall behind him. He seemed haughty and European. The entire hall had that feel, with big leather sofas under draped burgundy throws, a thick hunter green carpet and lingering smell of expensive cigars. I had no desire to stay there. I felt it was urgent and imperative that we hide in our room. I thought ourselves in the stairs of the hotel, and we were instantly there – a high floor.

Then it dawned on me that this is how I had gotten there in the first place. This was the beginning of the dream in level 2 I was living. I just had started out of sequence. But I knew we’d get into that hotel room, and I’d pet his head, and I’d fall asleep on his lap, and then the loop would start again. Unless I could get out. Right then, Minou, the cat in level 1 decided to leave my arm, walk across my leg and land on my foot. I tried to move to either make room for him or kick him off the bed – because I felt he might have been facilitating what was going on -, but still I couldn’t move. This time, I didn’t fight it, I went back in, and all was dark, and I was asleep.

white-corridor

————–

That’s what happened.
Maybe I’ll write down the one from the night before when I have a chance. Much shorter, just as loopy!
No, I don’t do drugs.

Interlude: A very brief love story

helium balloon

This morning at the Be Kind festival, a smiley face helium balloon – one of at least a hundred tied to various posts, plants and tables – detached itself from its string to come fly straight in my face.

I grabbed it with both hands and looked it straight in the eyes. With several witnesses’ concurrence, I decreed that balloon mine, or rather, since it had chosen me out of all the people under the tent, maybe I was its. The lady in charge of the festival happened to walk by with scissors right then – don’t worry, this isn’t a morbid love story. When she heard of our serendipitous encounter, she promptly cut part of a string from another balloon so that we might tie a knot to keep us together.

Oh, we had such a joyous time, for a short while. We socialized, took walks in the park, smiled in the face of dark clouds and rainy weather. I still don’t really know why my new friend left me. It surreptitiously cut its string as I reentered the tent, and flew away. By the time I realized it was gone, it was already high over the city and heading straight towards the mountains. I watched it get smaller and smaller. It seems happy there, or at least it was still smiling. I was sad to see it go, but also, I understood.

“Yep, that was your balloon alright.” were the only words of comfort my friend could offer.

balloon in the sky

 

 

If the world was more like the playa.

If the world was more like the Playa

A list of 10 suggestions for world improvement

by the Roaming Bobcat a.k.a. Maya of the Playa
(I have many names)

  • 1. Welcome home

If the world was more like the playa, airports would be welcome centers rather than threat screening gantlets. In this world, there is no need for passports. Language-proficient agents in welcome booths greet visitors in whichever manner is the custom of the country. A guide of the history and customs of the country, along with basic guidelines and a map is provided. For American citizens entering the US, for example, the custom would be a sincere “welcome home. I hope you had a nice trip. We’re glad you’re back” and a big bear hug.

  • 2. Artful urbanization

If the world was more like the playa, art would be fully integrated into urban settings. In this world, there is no advertisement, billboards, or no suggestion that anybody should consume more or act differently. Instead, art is on display as a gift to the community. Larger art pieces are accessible and interactive. Artist are respected as craftspeople and appreciated for their contribution. Urban dwellings are diverse and highly personalized but generally aesthetically pleasing and non-intrusive. Cityscapes, from a distance, seem like colorful beautiful chaos.

2013-09-10-ScreenShot20130910at3.54.36PM

  • 3. Radical inclusion

If the world was more like the playa, individuality and self-expression would be prized above all else. In this world, anything goes, and it goes well. Anyone can live naked or fully dressed, and any state in between as appeal to them, with no concern of offending others and no risk of negative judgment. Crowds are colorful cacophonies of tall boots, revealing underwear, tutus, bunny ears, leather, hats, and plain old jeans and tee-shirts. Straights and gays and polygamists and people quite content with being single have equal rights and respect. Non-conformity is encouraged, but conformity is just as well. For those who prefer expressing themselves through group association, themed parades and gatherings are available. No one is ever judged for participating, or not participating.

  • 4. Places of worship

If the world was more like the playa, temples and other places of worship would be designed for introspection and inner-exploration. In such places, all emotions are celebrated. Grief and joy are equally expressed freely and openly. Anyone can design his or her own rite of passage and ceremonies and perform them in public view and with public support. In this world, temples are haven of silence with dirt floors for earth grounding and skylights for easier cosmic connections. Hugs are available on demand; alone space is provided otherwise. Occasionally, a person with an exceptional voice gives the gift of a song in soft tones. The message is always uplifting, personal and intentional.

  • 5. Community support

If the world was more like the playa, no one would ever feel lonely, unless they actively chose to feel so for the value of the experience. In this world, love is a free-flowing commodity. Promiscuity is valued as long as boundaries are respected. Boundaries are never judged negatively. Innocuous gestures of appreciation, such as random hugs, acts of kindness and compliments, are common place. No one is ever considered a stranger, and the community supports each individual’s growth with care and compassion. The individual, in exchange, takes responsibility for their own growth and only depends on the community as is appropriate. Kissing and hugs booths are provided for entertainment only, affection is a normal mode of operation.

  • 6. Footprint awareness

If the world was more like the playa, bicycles and vehicles of mass transportation would prevail. In this world, each person is highly conscious of his or her own carbon footprint. Leave-no-trace is so ingrained that it is second nature. Streets are clean. Trash is minimal. Resources are conserved and recycled. Vehicles, motorized or not, are well decorated and an integral part of the urban art scene. Art cars, as vehicles of mass transportation are called, are free to ride, but their destination is usually unpredictable and time-tables are non-existent. This works well because no one has an agenda or destination beyond the experience of riding on the art car, meeting new people and exploring new grounds.

truth-andbeauty-with-marcos-art-car-2013

  • 7. Free and voluntary education

If the world was more like the playa, education would be free, voluntary and widely available. In this world, children are encouraged to discover and pursue their natural talents. Learning is achieved through world exploration and self-discovery, rather than codified lessons. Everybody is a teacher according to their area of expertise. Learning is a lifestyle, not a side activity, and can happen anywhere simply by asking. There are also learning centers, with bright airy dome-shaped rooms. There, students sit in a circle with the master for the lesson. All classrooms have an open-door policy, so students can join or leave as they see fit. There is no stigma on any topic. One dome might specialize in practical craftsmanship such as welding, wood working, etc, another might offer workshops in tantric sex, understanding the sacred masculine and feminine energies or offer practice in applied manifestation techniques.

  • 8. Gift-based economy

If the world was more like the playa, the economy would be based on gifts and self-sufficiency. In this world, there is no currency, no Federal Reserve, no taxes or fees of any kind. Because each person is engaged in activities he or she enjoys, nobody feels they have to work, and nobody is ever forced to share. People of this world, however, love to share their crafts and talents with the community. Everybody is completely self-reliant. Either as individuals or within smaller communities – called village -, food, water, shelter is the responsibility of each. In this world, I think that would even be true of coffee – so that is one up on the playa, where you can, actually, buy coffee and ice. Unappealing tasks are few through the application of leave-no-trace by everyone. Communal toilets are the responsibility of all, and cleaning them is a highly respected and praised service to the community (another one this world has on the playa).

  • 9. Natural integration

If the world was more like the playa, people would live in harmony with the natural world. In this world, the weather and terrain are integral part of each person’life. The planet’s natural rhythms are part of each person’s basic education. With this knowledge, the community aligns itself to the changing environment and flows within the natural cycles. Sand storms, might, for example, be appreciated for their exfoliating properties, for the opportunity to wear eccentric protection goggles and for the surreal dimension they add to large art pieces. Heat waves, might, for example, be taken as opportunities to slow down, find a hammock and practice the essential life-skill of “being” rather than “doing”.

  • 10. Purposeful ephemeral

If the world was more like the playa, structures and effigies would be burnt to prevent nascent idolatries. In this world, people value experiences above all material possessions. The ephemeral is celebrated, and each one is encouraged to modify his or her dwelling, outfits and other means of self-expression to reflect continuous growth. These burns are the great celebrations that punctuate life and give a semblance of organization to the natural chaos. Some burns are designed for the release of pent-up energies. These are wild occasions where everyone can push their self-expression to whichever degrees they chose, whether it be public copulation, naked dancing, or guttural howling – anyway by which to release strong emotions before they can fester and become malevolence. Other burns are designed to release what no longer serves, whether grief, fear, old loved ones, lost loved ones, detrimental self-images, etc. These are solemn, respectful events, during which the community finds its Oneness. And yet, other burns are just for the pleasure of burning stuff and stare into the flames for a while.

temple-2013-curious-josh

———–
You may say I’m a dreamer … but there are at least 70,000 others out there
I hope someday you’ll join us.

XOX.

believe

womanpic

The Bobcat – A statement of purpose.

The Bobcat

– A statement of purpose –

To follow my heart blindly in all decisions, and in all aspects of my life
impervious to judgments, internal or external

To approach all experiences with faith, trust and levity
and always remember that I am here to play

To hold a vision of the life and world pulling me forward with anticipatory gratitude
and keep that vision as my compass for the next steps

bigtree