It was Tuesday afternoon that I finally realized that my attitude had changed. I had relaxed. It had taken me several days to get there, but in one sigh and in an involuntary sinking of my shoulders, it dawned on me, that I was finally really unburdened by nearly everything that I generally carry with me through my days. Leaving far behind the thoughts and worries of what I know still awaits me back home, for the moment, I was simply here.
This place, this lodge built on what many deem as holy ground, a magical place of beauty, grace, and simplicity brings this out in all who come here long enough to settle into its power. “Be here now” is one of my favorite little koans but is in real life, so hard to do. In the day to day of home, work, and life the worries that stretch out in front of us keep us glued and almost addicted to the “what’s next?”, the “why did that happen?”, and “how did I get here and how to do I get off this ride?” that when these nagging thoughts are not given power to be acted upon, they disappear. Poof, they are gone.
In reality I know that my time here is limited. We will leave tomorrow to return to home, and our life, but since Tuesday afternoon when I was able to shrug it all and go with the flow, it has been a superb vacation. The time spent here has been what a vacation is supposed to do, slow time down. Days have become longer, dinners have been lingered over, and the night sky has provided the entertainment instead of a flat screen. Conversations with strangers, and with old and new friends, have been sincere and unguarded. It has been a long time since we spent hours playing new card games or dominoes, and the time spent doing it here just rolled by with no awareness of its passing.
Who knows the source of the power of this old lodge to take the type “A”s of the world who come here seeking its ability to release them from themselves, but it does. Perhaps it’s the massive timbers that hold the structure of this building together, which grew on this land and were cut and shaped to define the spaces for those who pass under their load, that are a source of energy. The stones, too, that make up the chimney, the walk ways, the foundation of the building itself, also have an energy that is palpable and strong.
This lodge, on this site, has a very real life to itself. It is a wise and ancient being, that feels like the best of embraces as soon as you enter the place. If these hallowed walls could speak, ah the stories that they must know but they will never break their code and will not divulge their secrets. This is a sanctuary in the highest form.
And then their are the mountains, the view from this lodge. It is a mesmerizing thing to sit and look out upon their rises and falls from this perch of a bit of heaven. They change like a kaleidoscope as the sun rises from the left and settles to the right. Clouds and passing rain showers give drama that at some times define the shapes of the hills and at others obscure and give mystery.
How is it that being at this place gives me the permission to sit and stare at the beauty before me, to read with no time restraints, to draw, to chat and listen, to build stone cairns in the chilly waters of a nearby stream, to simply, relax? Perhaps the better question might be, why am I not able to live that way when I am not here? Certainly day to day life is filled with all of the things that must be done, and I do know that this time spent here is isolated from all of those responsibilities, but how can I take just a smidgen of the focus on being in the moment home with me so that I can learn to relax fully even for a few stolen minutes each day? How can I drop the feeling of guilt of not doing the most productive thing possible at every moment? Don’t know, but it does make me so painfully aware of how jacked up life is and maybe, it really doesn’t have to be like that all of the time.
Mark has spent the week teaching a group of wonderful folks, who met by coincidence last year and who took his class. They returned this year all as dear old friends and again, eager students, most of whom admitted that they had forgotten most of what they had learned last year. They have already rebooked a return for next year’s workshop and most have gone back to their homes with new photos they are excited about having taken here, and an excitement for taking more.
I have read, sketched, walked up and down steep hills and feel reenergized, eaten three fabulous meals each day, and enjoyed the wine. I have spent time chatting, playing games, and watching the changing scenery. We built cairns in the stream only to have a passing rain knock them down with the rising water it dropped, and will rebuild them perhaps this afternoon. I spent an afternoon photographing a swarm of swallowtail butterflies flitted about and drank together in the moist sands by a beautiful stream.
It has been good. It has been great. It has been a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday week. I have relaxed into a state that, I must remember revisiting more often.
For a few more hours, I am here, now.