Opened Heart, Divided Land
journeying up and around the Continental Divide
READ TIME: 6 MIN, 5 SECS
The final days of 2018…
ended for me, in a big completion, with a laser-like precision.
The final wrap- up, the end of a potent relationship, something that had filled the wild terrain of my heart for several Winters.
This. “They.” Would now, officially, “go away.”
An opportunity, to put into practice a Truth, I’ve always known…
True Love is never-ending.
It simply changes form.
The ending of one year, would launch me into an entirely unknown, and totally different, beginning.
In the disorienting haze that can arise after such experiences…
"Move," was all I could hear my Spirit said.
The severance feeling so severe, the only offering I could make to my heart, was to listen, and simply, get up, and go.
I decided to break out from my mountain home, bolt over the Continental Divide and get out under the big open skies toward the Colorado front range. This would be a symbolic gesture toward forward momentum, swiftly getting out, on expansive open roads.
In moments of abrupt change, it can be hard to see the horizon.
But standing at the crossroads, two things were crystal clear:
I was insistent, I would keep my heart, wide open.
That would be the easiest part of this process.
The important and urgent task would be about reclamation – restoring my own intimacy with nature and sky and land – disentangling it from how it opened, deepened, and tightly intertwined, with, and through, the Other.
The Rocky Mountains.
My beloved Colorado Plateau.
Another not-to-be-named mountain range.
Some of the most profound experiences of my life, have happened on, or in association with these vast spaces - and many of them were experienced in connection with, the Other.
It always seemed like the mountains, the deserts, the elements and the ancestors were aligning with the stars, collaborating together for this fated connection to occur.
And now, with that One being gone,
a hurting part of me, just wanted to flip the finger to the mountains, and the deserts and the elements and the ancestors - because clearly, this was some sick conspiracy. Apparently, they were just fucking around.
But my bigger awareness knew, the loss of Him, must not cut off my own connection to these sacred lands –
all the places and spaces that have been my rock and foundation - grounding me, holding me and expanding my vision.
Somehow, and I didn’t know how, I needed to reclaim my connection to Nature.
Somehow, it seemed, and seems, part of my larger Mission.
Blurry eyed, I packed quickly, haphazardly - readying for the long and icy winter trek, up, over, and down the Continental Divide.
I chose my companion for the journey. A book I’ve wanted to read for some time.
The audio of Terry Tempest William's book,
When Women Were Birds: 54 Variations on Voice.
Driving over the Rockies, and in this very raw moment, listening to Terry’s soothing narration of her memoir, could not have been more perfect…
I needed to hear a feminine voice about nature.
This made me realize, there are so few.
I needed to hear a woman, who has liberated her voice, outside of culture, society, gender.
This would help me to reconnect to my own, free from the constraint of another.
And, most importantly…
Terry Tempest Williams, holds a powerful connection to, and weaves in stories about, all the land I love.
Listening to this book brought me the medicine to help me remember quickly…
Yes. My love of these places, my intimacy with nature, are all mine. And no one, will ever take them from me.
I arrived at my destination.
I waived a final farewell (with a little bit of fuck you) to 2018.
I rang in a very New Year in connection and comfort of very old friends.
In the very first sunrises of 2019,
I’ve slept hours beyond my normal rhythm of waking at first light.
It’s okay. I have been emotionally exhausted.
But each day, I’ve awoken determined – remembering how back in September, I decided a collective theme for 2019 would be to Rise in Love.
My mind drifts backward, I gently steer my thoughts, back into present.
Even though, right now, the present feels rather vacant and empty.
I work to rewire my brain toward new topics, different conversations.
Where, ironically, the conversations of division loom large.
The government is in shutdown.
A friend calls to check in on me.
He’s walking along the National Mall. Every thing is closed.
My mind meanders to the open road.
Though I am far from any National Park, their closure is resulting overflowing sanitation and thrashed land.
I think of all the families who traveled in the first week of the year to spend time in our public sanctuaries of land, or park or museum.
I think of all the furloughed employees who make these places tick.
I think of a looming potential - a all dividing an entire continent. And my heart aches to think of the wildlife that will be severed from migration paths, patterns that have been utilized long before there were invisible borders delineating and dividing, one country, and culture, from the next.
Spaces, parks and places,
preserved and reserved
by the people, for The People.
All. Locked. Down.
My return home, back to the mountains, still found me listening to Terry, her book, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks. An illuminating but not an easy read or listen.
Terry pointing out, how delving into the awe and wonder of our “somewhat-protected” sanctuary spaces, you cannot avoid being delved into the shadows of what the preservation of these lands has conjured…battles over land for oil and gas, the extrication and relocation of the Native Americans, and the mass elimination of the more-predatory animals.
The first hour into my drive, Terry is reading of Big Bend National Park, bordering the Rio Grande River, the flowing boundary between the United States and Mexico. She explains how there is a place that is so shallow, that the Mexican and American kids can playfully skip stones to one another.
I begin to cry. So I pull over.
I don’t know if it’s for my own sorrow.
Or for kids who don’t know why we build walls.
Or for a river that could have a wall blocking it’s expansive view.
Or if I’m crying for State of the Union… intimate, or political.
I hit the road again, wondering, how many relationships end, because someone is retreating from fear, instead taking a deep breath, and leaning toward love…
At a time where I am in deep inquiry, about what it means to keep the beauty of my own heart open and flexible, yet protected from unnecessary harm, I am simultaneously witnessing accelerated division and devaluation in the larger collective.
Barriers and walls are different from boundaries and borders.
One is rigid, the other can be flexible.
A barrier is an instinctual and primal response, created from a place of fear.
A boundary can hold the space for an opportunity, to evolve toward something higher.
One is erected from a state of survival, of fight or flight.
The other can be a space for nourishment, creation, growth and the potential place to reach toward higher love.
Today, we are all living, what seems, to be the Hour of the Land, indeed.
A final hour, where each of us, are having to assess our own boundaries within and without…
Are we building barriers from a place of protection?
Or are we creating safe sanctuaries, where ultimately all barriers can dissolve?
Are we evolving toward a space of love?
Or we devolving, into an all too familiar place of fear?
And this is the challenge that we currently face.
For the larger societal divisiveness, is simply a side-effect, a mirror of an internal severing that happened long ago…
when man began disconnecting himself, walling himself inside, distancing himself as separate and superior.
Forgetting that he was but one thread, in the larger web of Nature.
No better, no less.
But as the only two-footed creature with free will, the bearer of a sacred responsibility, to live as a guardian, and protector, of the rest.
with love and honor for Terry Tempest Williams, who fights hard for so much, and much of what I love.
MORE FIELD NOTES FOR THE JANUARY JOURNEY.
FOLLOW ALONG IN MY PROCESS OF HEALING ON THE OPEN ROAD