Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Long Way

The shuttle ride to the hotel last night wasn't bad, except that for me it was nearly 2:00 AM. Even if it were 2:00 PM, I'd have been in a bad way because I'd taken not one, but two doses of Dramamine to keep from feeling sick on the plane. Still, I made it to the hotel and up to my room, where I lay awake and watched Jimmy Fallon. The buzz of flying and traveling, and arriving in a different time zone, and just the plain fact that I'm doing something like going to Los Angeles, California at the most difficult financial time I've ever been at in my life had my brain zipping too sprightly to feel sleepy..

Using Google Maps, I found a reasonable way to get to Santa Monica via an average of four bus changes. All the routes were essentially the same, but configured in different ways. While looking at the computer screen, it all makes sense, but later, looking only at my scrawling notes, I began to have doubts that I'd end up in Santa Monica in a reasonable amount of time without a number of wrong turns. I stiffened my upper lip and left my room to check out. I asked the hotel clerk how much the buses cost. She  told me if I took the free shuttle (free except for the tip to the driver) to the airport that I could catch the Santa Monica "Big Blue Bus." I followed this advice and was here within a half hour. I couldn't believe how easy it was. I'd have stayed in my room a little longer had I known. Anyway, I got off the bus, found a local grocery, and got food to take down to the beach for a picnic. I sat perched in the sand, feeling the cool, slightly humid ocean breeze and still trying to decide whether all of this is real.

Three years ago today, my ex-girlfriend broke up with me. That was such a significant day for so long. Surely, this first full day in California falling on that day signifies that I am sailing forth in a new direction. Occasionally, fear grips me and I wonder what in the world I'm doing, but under it all is an uncanny feeling that I'm right where I need to be and that I shouldn't worry. This, of course, doesn't mean that undesirable or inconvenient things won't happen, only that if they do, they are part of the unfurling of this next phase I'm stepping into. For so long, I've longed to move on, to start anew, to get a life, forget the past, and go forward. That, my friends, is what's happening as I tread the earth on this side of the continent.  It's a welcome change.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pulling Me Forward

There are those times in life when it seems destiny draws me, shows the way, leads me to a particular door and gives me the desire to want to open it, all the while leading me past a dozen other doors I don't even think about. The age-old questions of free will and predestination bring up certain considerations that in a broader context argue toward a more holistic rather than a linear progression of time. Over the past three to four years, I've been doing a lot of reading about setting intentions and moving toward your goals. Approaches like The Secret are good examples of philosophical ideals that tend toward free will. Things come about because we direct our thoughts a particular way. Another approach, such as Calvinism in Christianity, says that all things are determined ahead of time and follow a particular and unchangeable path. Things come about as they are predetermined and there's nothing we can do to change them, only to accept them.

These ideologies limit themselves to a linear perspective of time. They imply that cause and effect flow from past to present to future. If "this" happens now--you think positively, God predestines something--"that" necessarily follows. The brain has evolved to operate according to such a cosmology, thus it is often, perhaps even typical, that good or bad fortune surprises us, or seems like dumb luck, because in some linear fashion we haven't been able to observe a chronological ordering of causes and effects.

But let's say that we exist past-present-future all at the same time. Because of our evolution, our brains and how they work, we can only experience time linearly, or experience existence according to linear time, while in reality we actually exist in all moments of time simultaneously. As we move through existence, we are only aware of one moment following the next, when in reality, conscious versions of myself both precede and follow me.

Looking at existence this way, it makes sense that we would have premonitions, and experience deja vu. It would also make sense that things that are happening in "the future" are influencing us in the present. What we do now, influences our past selves. Let's say, for example that I chose not to go to Los Angeles right now. A few weeks ago, I was feeling strong premonitions about going to California and receiving signs about it, as I have over the past few days. Those signs and premonitions happened because that's what I'm doing now--going to California. My present actions influenced what is now my past self.

I think of it as something like many people walking on a high wire. Each person's actions influences everyone on the wire. When someone up ahead trips, everyone on the wire feels the vibrations. Each person experiences the wire in linear fashion, but actions before and behind send energy to us. This is why, from the standpoint of the brain, it's easy to think of past events affecting us now, and to see signs or premonitions as essentially unreliable. This is why it often feels that we are destined to certain things. The strength of the intentions of our future selves might feel like predetermined happenings. This is why when we meet people special to us that it often seems like destiny:  those feelings flow backward as well as forward.

Regret is such a strong emotion; it has the force of sending messages to past selves. Regret is a kind of reverse hope. Where hope sends energy "forward," regret is a kind of setting intentions for the past we wish would have experienced. That energy might come in the form of dreams to lead us to make a different decision, or to especially impress a different course upon us. Right now, in my past, my past selves are feeling the energy of my breaking free from fears, of my following my heart and my bliss. When I look back at my life, at times like when I chose to go with an ex-girlfriend to California, that it was something I understand now was an important experience. When she broke up with me, it was one of the most difficult experiences I've ever endured, but I see now that it was necessary, and I understand the feelings I had the day she broke up with me to let her go, to let her find her own way because the way I've come since that time has allowed me to have a much richer experience of life.

I don't know how much we can change, but I'm considering a theory that perhaps a "life," the one we incarnate into, requires several "passes" to learn all of the lessons, to work out all of the karma, to conquer all the fears. The first guy on the line perhaps has the greatest shocks and difficulties, but as he feels regrets and sends back energy to make changes, the life improves, and eventually we learn what we need to learn, gain what we need to gain, and balance the karmic demands of that particular existence. Sometimes it's feels like destiny, sometimes it feels as if we choose, but always, we are moving through past, present, and future and finding our way.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Smack in the Middle of a Rainbow

Coming out of Mankato on the way back to the Twin Cities, I came through the most curious weather. Cool and refreshing wind had blown all day as I spent the better part of the afternoon in a state park, thinking about this trip, wondering what it means, wondering what I would do once I got back in the Twin Cities, strangely feeling calm in the midst of all of it. But once I got to Mankato, brooding clouds moved across the sky and brought sporadic bouts of chilly rainfall. I watched one cloud in particular, a columnar white bluff coming across the sky like a snowplow. A fuzzy gray mist hung under it, a sight I knew to be falling rain. By use of my internal geometry, I could see that me and this cloud were bound to meet. And so we did, just as I got out of town and away from places to take cover.

My legs churned and chugged, pushing me, my pack, and the bike up out of the river valley. The chill wind whispered across my sweaty limbs and forehead, shooting a shiver through my timbers. The rain came in large, cold drops that felt strangely refreshing, but I'd spend the whole day trying to get my things dry and I resented this intrusion of sky-borne hydration. The cloud moved upon me, as a wrath following me either to or from the grave. I was just bemoaning my luck of being out of the protective covering of infrastructure when I came to a place in a ravine, under a highway bridge sixty or so feet above the trail.

I stood watching the cloud move across the sky, followed in the west by a dark patch of blue. The setting sun at the western edge of the world cast orange and yellow light askance so that the clouds moved, the rain fell, the sun shone in a dance of vibrancy and color. But it didn't mean much to me at that time. I was aggravated at the inconvenience of getting wet, at the irritation of all of my hard-won dryness being washed away in a single, natural stroke. It was just about that time that it occurred to me that somewhere, it was very likely that someone could see a rainbow. Here I was, smack in the middle of it.

I thought of this and felt humbled--humbled to be so belligerent when in fact the Universe had brought the very symbol of "hope" and "promise" literally right over my head. I'd been wondering all day if what I was doing--turning back from this trek--was right, and here an answer of sorts had come and all I could do was bitch.

As I came out of the ravine through which I was riding, the sky opened out, and the offending cloud, which had passed on a few miles ahead of me, was moving across the prairie to the east. Sure enough, right there was a rainbow, my rainbow, the one under which I 'd stood. I watched it for some time as I rode, until it faded into the twilight surrounding me.