Setting sail

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As I descend the stone steps leading away from the nondescript red building with the Tibetan prayer flags flying over the front porch, I notice for the first time that my feet are cold and that my legs are a bit numb.

But I am abundantly aware of the state of my spirit. My inner being is so light it soars above the snow-covered landscape and cuts straight through the airy clouds to the sun. My head is buzzing. I liken it to a runner’s high. This feeling. It stayed with me all day.

How could this be? My internal weather has leaned toward dark and stormy for months. My inner self a heavy thing dragging on the pavement. In one hour the storms, the weight dissipated. Later that evening, I attempt to recreate the experience at home. Again. Amazing energy flow and calm. I am on to something here.

After an on-again, off-again meditation practice that I abandoned right around the time I became a mother of two, and a missed opportunity to visit a Buddhist Temple in China, I finally summoned the courage to attend a service in Detroit.

I went in with no expectations and more than a little bit of anxiety (of the unknown) but my nerves calmed almost immediately after entry into this peaceful environment.

Even though I had no idea how to conduct myself in this setting, I felt welcome and serene. It’s not often that I get an undisturbed hour to myself.

By the time the service was over, I had a strong feeling that I had found a new spiritual home, one in which I could begin my journey toward healing my inner self and giving wings to a new outer life.

High times

On one of our many visits to Colorado we went to a theme park took the roller coaster road from Independence Pass to Aspen. It is considered one of the highest paved roads in North America. We flatlanders had been in the mountains only for a few days so the initial shock of altitude change had worn off, we thought, but I guess it takes much longer to fully acclimate to the environment.

This picture was taken at Highway 82 overlook, a breathtaking stopover at 12,095 feet above sea level. In my travel journal I describe the air as thin and cold. I observe that we are on tundra, above the tree line.  The views are dizzying and exhilirating. I realize the little squiggle below is really the road we took to get here.

The drive to Aspen is nothing but a series of hair-pin turns and switchbacks through the peaks and valleys of the central rockies. It was the equivalent feeling of stepping off the Tilt-A-Whirl at the local carnival — after you’ve unwisely ingested a hot dog with everything.

This picture was taken in 2004. I could have sat on that bench all afternoon, soaking up the sun, feeling the wind whip my hair, and inviting the utter peace and serenity of the landscape to infuse my soul.

It’s a feeling I can only get in places of nature’s extremities. The surf crashing on the rocks at the seaside or on a snow-covered peak in the mountains. I’m not a religious person, but these moments are the closest thing to feeling a God, a higher power, a presence greater than myself.

Why I can’t get that feeling in a Michigan cornfield I don’t know.