Baja Blue

Baja Blue
Bluetrue sky of the Korokoro Hills

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Muskoka's Bluetrue Dream

We started our great travel adventure on sacred territory: with family in our beloved Muskoka.

We first traveled to Muskoka seventeen years ago, when a tornado whipped through our campsite in Algonquin and the town of Huntsville -- taking power lines, roof tops and treetops with it, wherever it went; chastened by that experience, we stayed away for ten years.  Then we were called back to the woods, and decided to "stake a claim" on a little 1/10th ownership in a family owned cottage and small family resort on Lake of Bays: we have not looked back since.

For even ten years later, Muskoka is the place where white pine, willow, balsam fir, red maple and tamarack grow with abandon -- feeding the dreams of would-be Group of Seven artists and regular cottagers alike.  It is the place where you can spend whole days paddling its beautiful lakes, and feel the wind in your face.   And it is the place where, running with my sis round Lake of Bays in July, we were able to feel as through we two were alone in the woods -- with just green trees, blue sky and the occasional bird to keep us company.

Muskoka is the kind of place that must have inspired the e.e. cummings poem which inspires the title of this blog: "I thank you God for most this amazing/day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees/and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything/which is natural which is infinite which is yes/ (i who have died am alive again today,/and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth/day of life and of love and wings; and of the gay/great happening illimitably earth)/how should tasting touching hearing seeing/breathing any-lifted for the no/of all nothing-human merely being/doubt unimaginable You?/(now the ears of my ears awake and/now the eyes of my eyes are opened).

This is for the leaping, greenly, spirits of trees, all over this big, beautiful world; and for us, that we might find them, and protect them, and appreciate them for the sacred gifts they are.

Friday, 8 August 2014

The Hero's Journey

I am aware that this trip we are embarking upon is really two journeys, one outward and one inward; all of the books that are coming my way are reinforcing this duality.

I had the opportunity to witness Oprah's interview with the remarkable Jean Houston, author of "The Wizard of Us: Transformational Lessons From Oz", and decided it would be the first book to accompany me on the journey. 

Houston suggests that the increased inter-connectivity of the world means we are living in a unique time, that calls on us to draw on the best of ourselves, and posits that the "Hero's Journey" in The Wizard of Oz can contribute to our thinking about this possibility.  By reflecting on our own "Hero's Journey", we can find new reserves of inner strength and passion for the possible: "What you see in The Wizard of Oz is not only myth but also a powerful initiatory drama of the Hero's Journey...Dorothy goes home to Kansas, but not before she grows up in Oz.  Not before she discovers her own world of sufficiency and abundance....Oz...teaches her about discovering the riches and uses of one's full intelligence, friendship and compassion.   She....learns about the genius of working in partnership with others and how the committed community can do almost anything.  Finally, she learns about the magic, the wizardry, the sacred potency that lies within each one of us...

We are all on a Hero's Journey.  We have all experienced a Call to Adventure.  We have all lived through a Belly of the Whale experience. You don't have to be Hercules or Achilles, Odysseus or Perseus to be a hero. Consider the power you exercise right here, right now.  You have the capacity to do some good in the world, to do brilliant, beautiful things. However, you may not know this, or you may forget what you are capable of during the stress of the everyday world...The Wizard of Oz provides a template that allows us to open ourselves to the hidden capacities we had forgotten we had; the creative potentials we didn't know how to use; and the deeper knowing that transcends past, present and future....."

To realize our own, full potential, and tap in to the creative potential of our "Hero's Journey", we have to reflect on what we want to let go of from our outmoded past or present, and what we would like to draw to us, and/or reflect, in a world of infinite possibilities.  

So here's to doing so: to both letting go, and letting in, to embarking on our own Hero's Journey; to finding and claiming the best that lies within, and bringing back the best of ourselves, the most important things we have and are able to contribute, to Kansas, or wherever calls us home....

Monday, 4 August 2014

Wherever You Go

A friend who radiates with a special kind of beauty both inside and out gave me a book on mindfulness ("Wherever You Go There You Are", by Jon Kabat-Zinn).

As someone who inhales sharply at the first glimpse of blue mountains over the rise of the hill, or ribbons of pink in the evening sky, I pride myself on being mindful.  But like everyone I know, I find the idea of "non doing", even when I have the opportunity to indulge, an alien and anxiety-inducing concept.  And I am "mindful" of the times my anxious  mind has prevented me from sleeping, even a wink; a year ago, after a sunny morning flight to Halifax, I awoke to find myself on a gurney en route to the hospital after a seizure in the airport, my mind, at least momentarily, having seemingly exploded.  So, perhaps there might be something for me in this book.

At first, my restless mind flits about -- lighting on, celebrating and then rejecting several key passages, all at once.   Then certain segments float to the surface, asserting themselves.

I am reminded that Henry David Thoreau's Walden experience was, above all else, a personal exercise in mindfulness.

I pause at the quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, which once again seems to signal the benefits of "going inside": "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."  And I am struck by the serendipity of reading this just as I have been reflecting on the nature of home; it would seem, from this passage, that home is here, wherever we are, in each moment.

I reject the idea of non-attachment, and feel what could only be described as pride at my passionate attachments: to the people I love, to values I hold dear, to the work I love, to this big, beautiful world, to life itself.   But the idea of finding a few moments of stillness in each day, of observing, of being both fully aware and intentional, resonates deeply.

This exhortation, by author Jon Kabat Zinn is most resonant of all:  "Can we be in touch with our own life unfolding?  Can we rise to the occasion of our own humanity?  Can we take on the challenges we meet, even seeking them out to test ourselves, to grow, to act in a principled way, to be true to ourselves, to find our own way and ultimately not only have it, but, more importantly, live it?.....The beauty of meditative work is that it keeps us on the path, even in the darkest of moments.....It is a guide to human development, a roadmap to our radiant selves...."

So this is my ode to mindfulness:  Here's to rising to the occasion of our own humanity, to taking on the challenges we face, as best we can, and really living; to being fully aware of the beauty of each passing moment, of our radiant selves, and of the friends who send books our way, just as we need to read them.