Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hit the Trail

Of the three trees in my back yard behind the house I grew up in, the maple was the one I climbed most often. Its foliage was lush and its branches sturdy. I found a perch there, nailed a board to hold a book, a drink, or a sandwich, and I'd climb up there to just be in my boy-space. In the middle of summer, the cornstalks in the field behind our house had grown to eight feet, but my place in the maple allowed me to see over the sea of yellow tassels to the blue hills north of town. These moments stand out to me because a feeling came that I could not understand at the time and that I'm still grappling with. Those moments were portentous somehow, pointing to some part of my destiny that only now is beginning to take shape in my mind.

In my most recent draft of Wayward Son, I included a recounting of this episode because it in some ways related to the general malaise I came to while living in Ethiopia. For most of my life, I never considered those moments as a boy in a tree to be spiritual, but as look back over the arc of my life, I see more clearly the spectrum of light that came through at that time and how it resonated with the times of wonder I experienced in quiet moments while in Ethiopia. In the most recent draft of WS, I took it more metaphorically that the yearnings I felt thirty-five years ago were a kind of search for God, or god, or the Universe, or the self, or whatever. More recently, I'm wondering if it is a literal yearning, a desire to walk a long trail across some portion of the planet under the sun, sky, and stars and find myself in a more primordial context.

If I did such a thing, what would I find? For so long, I've searched for answers outside of myself, hoping someone, something, somegod, somesavior, would point the way. I see now, as I've faced some of my greatest fears here in Japan, that I must find the core of who I am, outside of fears, shame, guilt, obligation, shoulds, oughts, and whatever. It's time to get to the bottom. I'm considering taking a long walk and if I can figure out a way to do it and pay the bills at the same time, I will. This is the choice before me as I move into the new year.