Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Great Sand Dunes, Colorado - Introductory Thoughts

When you first come to the entrance to the Great Sand Dunes from the parking lot, you see people far and high who appear to be walking aimlessly about on the sand. Why did they walk that far?, you wonder. It looks totally boring.

But the dunes seduce you. Each step brings new angles, new shadows, ripples in the sand, shadows of the grasses on the sand. Each step brings you to a new valley, or bowl, or ridge, that can’t be seen when you are at the base of the hills, or on the flat riverbed. Like a golf course, you can’t see many of the subtleties until you are playing the course, actually right there, active, not observing from a distance.

And such is life. We often see people doing things that look aimless and uninteresting and wonder why they do them. We should hold our judgment or assumptions until we have been on their course, living their reality, and perhaps we will see that their lives are not so aimless after all or that what they were doing could actually be of interest to us too.

Being in New Mexico has been a huge lesson in "never saying never.” I’ll never live there. I don’t get it, why do people live there? I used to say to myself. But I was the people, the beauty and the sheer adventure of being able to be myself. I now see that I can live anywhere at this point in my life, or at the very least, I have a lot more openness to what may not initially attract me strongly. I have gotten my free spirit, “curiosity about everything” vibe back again.

My lifestyle in 2005 has allowed me to live in places that in the past I might not have chosen, and to experience realities about which I previously did not feel intense interest. Through stretching, being in the adventure mode, and honoring who I am, I have rediscovered the part of me that loves the thrill and mystery of the unknown, no matter where it is. My curiosity is strong and my enjoyment of new realities is deep.

Everywhere I go now is a foreign country. Perhaps I will settle there, or perhaps I will move on. The point is to bring in the new experiences, live fully, and appreciate all of reality.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Great Sand Dunes - Inner Reflections

“.... there was another experience that I actually liked the best. I found places in the dunes where it felt like you were in a bowl. With mounds of sand rising high around me, there were no markers to orient me to where I was. I couldn’t see the mountains behind me, I couldn’t see the highest ridge ahead of me, and the sand walls blocked the sun. I was surrounded by and totally in the essence of sand and sky.

I loved this experience. While some people may have found it a bit frightening to not know where they were, being in this space felt safe, mysterious and exotic to me. I felt that I had no obligation to care about what was beyond this essence, that this was enough. While I enjoyed surfacing occasionally and getting my bearings by seeing the mountain from a ridge, I found that I liked most being in that place where my surroundings were totally alien and unfamiliar, and where I had no clue or care for what was on the “outside.” I could totally enjoy the beauty and be 100 percent present. It was a luxurious feeling…

...I realized at one point as I walked, breathed, absorbed, and reflected, that my dunes experience was a great analogy of how I am currently living my life. A great part of me loves being in the unfamiliar. I like having home bases, places to ground me, but I don’t have to be in them very often. I am curious, always wondering what is beyond where I currently am, in thought and in physical reality. I know that there are many realities and perspectives out there that I can’t even imagine, and I take joy in finding ways to discover and experience them. Traveling and mini-adventures like the Sand Dunes experience allow me to embrace new angles, new ways of seeing things, and new ways of being in the world. They are part of the practice of expanding my own personal consciousness, and being fully in the world.

As adventurous as I am, I can also be a bit timid. I get an idea and go after it or bring an experience into my life knowing that it will really stretch and inspire my imagination. But then sometimes I find my mind drawing back, trying to keep me from leaping into the full experience of what I have set up. As when I first saw the dunes and was not instantly attracted, I sometimes have to push myself to take that extra step. I tell myself to try it, that I can always leave, that there was a reason why I chose this experience in the first place. I know that there is many a surprise around the corner.

As usual, I was glad that I “tried” the Sand Dunes. And I wonder how many opportunities and miracles in life that I and others miss because we make assumptions ahead of time and don’t take that extra step to experience something new and unfamiliar…”