We walked ten miles yesterday down not a quite desolate road in Wyoming, the three of us with our backpacks and a camera that was way too fancy around here parts. We got stopped by a police officer, saw a dead cat, and several barking guard dogs of various shades and colors. But we also saw horses that approached us from many meters away (sorry, no apples), dogs that wanted to play more than guard, and the sweet sunset light basking the mountain valley in which we walked.
Mountains are everywhere.
In the ridges and peaks and valleys of tree bark
The slanted angle of a fence
The pebbles of a stream
This is Wyoming country, and it is where I’ve been staying for the past few days. I knew that this journey would be important for me, but I’m trying to wrap my head around the significance of it all. To say that Wyoming is life-changing would not do the experience justice, to say that it is life-shifting may come closer. Even before the moment in which I landed, the Grand Tetons greeted me with their indifferent yet majestic peaks–the entire 32-seater airplane in which we flew awakening with sudden gasps of delight at the extreme elevation on the right window side. A nice red-headed girl took some pictures for me on my phone; this started a chain reaction where the left sided passengers were suddenly asking the right sided passengers to help them capture a memory that they admittedly did not witness for themselves.
And then there was the landing; the elk antler statue, the look of the mountains through the windows of an otherwise barren airport that did not feel the need for frills. The only added touch of modernity may have very well been the Uber/Lyft ride signs at the two lane pickup in front of the airport, which reminded me more of the pickup lanes at my elementary school than anything for jet passengers. There was Sam, too, in all her smiling love–and the silence in which we embraced each other, like old friends. Very, very old friends.
As we went through the mountain pass, my black pen exploded all over my journal; leading to a split second of dismay but also a flash of insight that I had not thought of before. That ink blot which tarnished my otherwise pristine travel journal (though already filled with some scratched out poems in the ride to Dulles) caused something else to spill in my brain. So suddenly I was bubbling with creativity; suddenly the black smear became the snow on the mountains; my pen now more like a paintbrush in which I could see the world. Jiggling my pen this way and that, I drew the mountains that I had already come to love.
I belong with the mountains.
There was Christian too. We embraced like old friends though we had only met each other in that moment; silence was the rule for the first day of the retreat and so we had only our eyes to accept each other. I thought back to my childhood and when I couldn’t understand the words being spoken, and all of a sudden I was yet a small child in a strange but familiar world.
I walked through the snow that day, in bare feet. To say it was cold and frightening would be an understatement.
We ate. Broke bread, except not bread, because we were supposed to be eating differently at our time here. So it was spaghetti squash, made with a certain amount of uncertainty and love. I debated (silently?) in my head whether I wanted to give Christian a gift–a sketch of him, meditating with agitation, after his healing session with Sam out in the woods.
I decided to wait.
At some point Sam gestured to me that the top room was mine, or maybe it was in a note, I cannot remember. I did remember the note that fell out of the book she had left on the passenger side of the seat. A gift that I didn’t know was a gift at the time. And a note written on it rules that I probably could have considered a decade earlier in my life:
No alarm clocks
Sleep when I get tired
Leave when I want to leave
Say stuff when I want to say it or stay silent if I want that
Technology only at a designated time, preferably before dark
A rough paraphrase but good enough; certainly different from the lifestyle that I have led for a long time. Not understanding breaks and self-care is something that everyone talks about and I am no exception to the rule that things can get out of control if I don’t pay attention to my body.
I don’t remember much of day two, except the most aesthetically pleasing whiskey and salad dressing store I’ve ever seen in my entire life (because it is probably the only whiskey store I’ve seen in my entire life).
Animal glass figurines decidedly more vibrant than the taxidermy animals in the same shop.
And a butcher shop that I wished was across the street from me back home.
I’ve been introduced to epsom bath salts, coconut oil with cupping, dry brushing, and simply a good ol’ bodywork stuff. Nothing far off but still unfamiliar to me in a world that rewards grinding, both of your bones and muscles and joints but also your mind.
I’ve been letting Sam get her hands on me a lot more; working out the various energies in my body that I can’t quite comprehend. It’s like my body understands itself better than I can understand it, even though I’m living within the body.
Somewhere along the line something opened up inside of me, though I’m not sure I like what I found inside. Perhaps I’m not giving myself enough credit like I always tend to do (and ironically, I am doing right now with these words). It’s surprising and gratifying to know that there are hidden gifts inside of me (and inside of everyone?!?) that I did not know before.
Like when the bartender (transported from Maine) said “holy s**t” when I gave him a sketch of the bar that we sat and had wings at.
Like when the horses decided that I was friendly.
Like when I recognized a special moment that Christian was having, sketched it, so now he has that image for life.
Like when I found out purple, my favorite color, stood for intuition.
Like when I faced an invasion of privacy from that police officer and did not crumble with fear.
Like when I admitted I was f**king scared.
There have been so many wonderful moments. Small moments that I cannot comprehend, like only seeing a small piece of a constellation in the sky. I am ready to do more growing and loving in the few days ahead, and I am excited to see what is to come.