When you travel, how do you come to decisions about where to go, the route you will take, or things to do along the way? Do you have a goal that you’re moving towards, a destination with a time frame? Have you ever stood at the side of the road with no particular destination, waiting to see where Spirit moves you? There are so many levels between “scripted and planned” and “open to anything.” How can we navigate this spectrum with as much magic and from as deep a place in our spirit as possible?
On this trip I know that I have a place to be, a direction which Spirit called me to go in, and a loose time frame. I hope that I can find a groove that will allow me to let go of figuring and planning and find a flow that will allow the magic to carry me to wherever and whatever Spirit has called me. I start slow, with a night camped along the Colorado headwaters on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The elk wander through the camp and give my car a blessing by licking the tires. Strange, but I’ll take it that way. Headed west the next day inspired by the beauty of the upper Colorado, listening to kirtan, I flow along the river and over the mountain passes. I turn north into Wyoming, where the afternoon thunderstorms raise the scent of fresh sage from the vast empty plains. As evening comes on I’m more aware of the heat of the day, the need for a place to clean off and lay down for the night. After a long hot day in the desert it’s harder to listen to the little voices, to trust yourself to try something that feels expansive. Always there are choices. This night, after buying a map, I choose a place on a lake, so I can wash off the heat of the day, rather than heading further up the mountain where it will be cooler.
How do I listen to my heart? How do I find that flow that takes me to a magical place? When do I use the maps and plan ahead? Somewhere there’s a balance which mixes both to create the magic. Along the way there are lessons and insights, which I try to notice and apply.
Several days later while riding up a long flat valley in eastern Idaho, it comes to me that even though I’m practicing listening to my heart, making choices from the feeling of my body, who is setting the options? Well… the map, the mind—there is still a ways to go. I wonder what it’s like to let the possibilities arise from the heart and soul as well. Does the compass of the heart need options before it indicates the next direction, or can you simply feel into yourself and find the next step, and the next?
Some days are loose and free to work this way, to play with a new way of being. One morning in the Bitteroots, leaving a beautiful campsite among tall cedars next to the rushing waters of the upper Clearwater, I feel seriously uncomfortable, as if I’ve left something important behind. I turn around and go back to the camp. Following a level of pure intuition I stand in front of a tree stump “alter” lit by the climbing sun. Facing back to the east I feel into the gateway formed by the two trees that guarded my tent the night before just in time for the sun to clear the smaller trees behind them and shine through to bathe me and my chakras in a morning blessing. I stand and give each chakra some attention, letting go of any tensions and opening to life and love. It’s a wonderful ritual that I never planned, but flowed from listening to the feelings of my being. There’s an effortless flow from being present and paying attention. When I head back on the road the uneasy feeling is gone.
It’s great to practice the little things, letting your attention wander over the details of a scene in front of you—play which leads to a magic of its own.
Even after a magical start this was another long hot day from the Bitteroots to the Cascades, across the low rolling desert of western Washington, in sweltering summer heat. Turning onto the interstate to chew the miles and conserve the hours, a part of me needed to scream. At the end of the day, I was back in the mountains, the first campsite of the first campground. A sentry tree and a stream, so it’s not bad, but I’m feeling tired and “off path.” The choice now is to focus on the expense of this place, the mosquitoes following me around, my abandonment of my heart or to notice all this, wash in the stream, find the local map showing other camps, decide to take one night instead of two and roll into bed.
In the morning I wake early, thanking my tree, piling everything in the car and decamping to another campground that the local map has shown me. This one looks across a lake at snow-capped mountains in the wilderness of the central Cascades. I get there as some folks are leaving, which opens up various sites. Going along the shore I’m looking for water access and large trees. I see one place that looks great, but as I stop, a woman comes up the bank. She’s moving her tent here from another spot. So I keep looking, finding a nice site with some big trees. The tent space is a little small and not quite flat, but overall pretty nice. As I’m starting to set up I notice that the people next door are now packing up, which I confirm. They had the best site in the whole camp, lots of space, big trees, a great front on the lake and a stunning view of the mountains. It has all worked out for me to have this amazing location, one I could not have had the night before, or an hour earlier, or an hour later. I reflect on how being able to be present with the times I felt “off path” have actually set up my being in this magical place.
It’s not really about being on path, or off path. It’s about being present, or not. Being present even when you feel off, you can find the magic again, or let it find you. In the end there’s not a single right path. When you’re present and connected you are on a path, perhaps different from yesterday, but one that will unfold in spirit going forward. Unless you get caught up in worrying about being off path, into resistance and looking for the right path again, in which case it may take a while to find. Especially since the one you strayed off of is gone now. I’m being shown that your state of being is much more important than your location, or exact circumstances. With a heart connected to Self and Spirit you’re open to guidance and magic. A good path is always at your feet.
Image: Woman travelling via Shutterstock