Basking in the Shadows

On February 13, 2013, I began my drive south, destined for more lessons on Rites of Passage and Vision Quest work. I was seeking a burst of sunshine after the last few months of cold and rain…isn’t it interesting how closely related our internal and external environment mirror each other so intricately? I left at 5am to pick up a rideshare on the side of Oak Street in Vancouver- an 18-year-old German girl, named Isabel. After getting to know each other for 20 minutes, we arrived at the U.S. border. The border guard asked a few questions and promptly told us to proceed to “ interrogation room.” For two hours we were asked questions about why we were coming onto “their” land without sufficient plans, baffled by the idea that a woman my age could have no official house or job, no real ties to bring me back to Canada…no concrete proof that I am normal human being. Eventually they were generous enough to allow into their “land of freedom…”

I was supposed to be in Seattle by 7:30am to pick up another rideshare. Through a mad storm of traffic, I got there at 10:30am, just in time for the rideshare to discover she had the stomach flu and would not be able to join us. So, we continued on to San Francisco, knowing we would be arriving very late. My car broke down at 3:30pm in Eugene, Oregon. A very kind Sheriff pulled over and that let me use his phone for roadside assistance.The super friendly tow-truck driver was pretty certain it was the timing belt (“not good!” is what my Dad texts me). The extremely empathetic mechanics at Firestone looked weary that the cost to fix it would be less than half of what I paid for my vehicle…

My new adventure buddy Isabel and I spent the night in a cheap-motel in Springfield, praying that my car would be fixed the next day. The next day, the sun came out and we got to visit the place the “Simpson’s” town was named after (mildly exciting), before picking up my car. The mechanic picked us up by mid afternoon to tell me the good news: the vehicle cost about half the amount to fix than had been expected. Who knew I’d be relieved to spend THAT much on auto repair?! I dropped Isabel off near San Fransisco, late that night, then continued East toward the High Sierras until I could no longer keep my eyes open. The mountains are calling…

I spent the weekend in Yosemite, climbing on exciting granite, viewing gorgeous mountains, breathing in clean air, and interacting with amazing people! At last, I have escaped the constant grey and bustle and am surrounded by Californian sun and peace! In the encompassing shade, I shiver as my skin stands on edge…in the open sun, the heat turns my skin red. I appreciate both these temperature equally, especially when neither is in the extreme.

I am learning to play with my shadow. One night I danced with it under the stars, as a bright light from the door of a house cast a long rectangle of light, in which our shadows reached out towards the darkness. At the Devil’s Bathtub, we took photos of our shadows, cast against a waterfall cliff. We went deep into a cave, where no light could reach, and watched candle flames flicker in rich blackness. As I began to emerged from the cave, with no light source, just the tiniest glimpse of light felt like…serenity? I came to an alcove just below the cave’s opening, where the sunlight gently cast itself along the edges. I basked in the shadows for just a bit longer…

I am remembering that rainbows and vibrant green grass require rain. Space is nothing without perimeters;  balancing on the fences is the way to achieve security and freedom at once. Pleasure cannot exist without pain, joy without sadness. In order to climb high, we must start low; mountains give us adventure, the ground gives us safety and sustenance.  In both day and night, warmth and cold, light and dark…there is both discomfort and comfort, misery and hope, profane and sacred… and within everything there is love. I emerge from the cave, prepared for whatever misadventure and adventure the universe blesses me with on this journey we call life. Tomorrow morning I head deep into the desert, deep into the heart, to bask in the sunshine (and shadows)…

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us” -Samuel Smiles

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us”
-Samuel Smiles

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