Sitting at Rapidan Dam a week and a half ago, contemplating whether I should continue to go forward or head back to the Twin Cities, I was unaware of my path forward from that point. It was like standing in a dense fog and simply walking forward. The road out to Mankato and back was lonely, especially as I contemplated traversing literally thousands of miles of rural highway through the heartland of our country. There were times that I felt that loneliness keenly, accepting it, knowing that at times in life it is actually better to be alone and naked against the world, that sometimes--perhaps often--the road forward requires it.
Looking back over the landscape of my life, I remember the intense loneliness I felt at times. As a child, hiding my true nature to avoid the cruel scrutiny of those who would ridicule what they couldn't understand. The parched lands of religion, where judges and teachers are a dime a dozen, but friends rank among the nonexistence. The dark days in Ethiopia when I feared facing the truth that religion was not what I thought it should be, and there were no others to admit it. A lifeless, sexless marriage. The desperation of loving someone too much, perhaps for good reasons, but not knowing the necessity of detachment. It was when I realized that loneliness is not the worst fate to befall us, but to abandon oneself to end loneliness is perhaps the worst crime we can commit.
Immediately after arriving at the hostel, I began to make friends, people I doubted existed in the world, people looking to live full, rich lives with courage and vision, trusting their instincts and turning a deaf ear to naysayers. This is a tribe of people who have come to know themselves and use that knowledge to live the life they know they should.
One of the things I learned during the dark days of grief was that we tend to attract people who validate our view of the world. However we conceive relationships, others, and their affects upon us, people will come into our lives that make such conclusions and assumptions irrefutable within the context of our experiences. The encouraging thing is that perhaps the cool people emerging in my life are the result of my own acquiring of a different set of beliefs.
One day after the next, I have met one person after another who shares a passion for life, for living it to the fullest, for standing against fear and embracing the destiny that is unfurling before them. At times when it seems the way has gotten dark and threatening, someone comes along who says, "You're doing the right thing. Hang in there. Hold on. Believe." My new friend Tracy told me today, "You belong in LA. You need to stay here. You can do it. God will give you what you need."
I'm here to stay. I've found my place. I'm finding my tribe. I'm finding my destiny.