Hummingbird continues… (this is also the second half of the Way of the Serpent story)
Lost and Found
Somewhere deep in darkness… Can’t see the burning sun… Lost.. The sensation of not knowing where you are… Found… The sensation of realizing where you are…
When we first turned out our flashlights in the middle of the Serpent’s Cave, I didn’t think we were lost in a serious way. We still had the rope. Chris was right. We could always re-trace our steps along the rope and go back to the entrance cave. It would be confusing because Angel wouldn’t be there. But it wasn’t really a big deal. It wasn’t as if we were lost in the middle of a crazy underground labyrinth and might never find the exit alive… That was, however, the thought that started racing through my mind. Oh my god oh my god oh my god, what if we can’t find our way out of here. But no, there was nothing to worry about. We could always follow the rope back…. Where does paranoia come from? What is the source of unexplainable, irrational fear? I don’t know. But the mind sure does play tricks sometimes. Especially if you are sitting with the lights off in the middle of a deep dark cave…
The darkness enveloped my eyeballs. Chris and I did not speak. Silence echoed and darkness was total. My ever expanding pupils searched out for light, they scanned the surroundings and stretched to find it. But there was no light anywhere to be seen. I could hear the sound of my heartbeat and my breathing. I could hear the sound of Chris breathing. I could hear the drip drip of water falling somewhere. I could hear the squeak squeak of rats and bats. Everything had a kind of faint echo or reverberation off the cavern walls. Where is the light? Where is the light? My mind wandered… I had a very vivid flashback.
I was having dinner at the Windows on the World restaurant on the top floor of the World Trade Center in New York City. It was my 25th birthday. There were hundreds of lawyers gathered from the firm’s offices around the world. It was the firm’s annual dinner celebrating another very successful year. As a new “summer associate” and recruit for the firm, I was supposed to stand before the microphone and introduce myself to all the lawyers. Since there were more than fifty of us summer associate/recruits, each individual introduction presentation would necessarily be very brief. The event was hosted by one of the big shot litigation partners at the firm who later became an important person in the “Clinton Regime.” After each presentation by the summer associate, the big shot would welcome them to the firm and ask a question or crack some kind of little joke about the presentation. Indeed, as I listened to the people go before me, it seemed as if the big shot was really quite an asshole. Many of his comments were fairly harmless barbs directed at the quality of the law schools attended but sometimes he was rather nastily sexist and even a bit racist. Apparently, this whole introduction thing was some kind of a test or initiation ritual. He was trying to provoke the young summer associates under pressure. All the associates who went before me responded calmly to his insults and provocative comments. There were no outbursts or displays of anger. Some people fired back with witty repartees that got cheers from the lawyers in the audience. But most of the other associates just smiled obediently and tolerated the insults as a fact of life and demonstrated their strength of character by not letting such harmless banter ruffle their feathers. Or so it seemed.
It was almost my turn. They were going in alphabetical order so I was near the end but they were already at the letter M so I was coming up soon. I could feel the sweat pooling in my armpits. My tie was tight and choking around my neck. My suit jacket was a size too big and my pants were a size too small. It was a bad cut, a weird fit. My heart was beating a bit too fast inside my chest. The delicious looking steak was still sitting untouched on the plate in front of me. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t relax. I would eat after my introduction. I wondered how the big shot partner would provoke me. Two other associates were from my law school so he already used his bit on that. He won’t go there again. I’m not a minority or a woman or gay so he can’t go there. If I talk about my small hometown maybe he will attack me as a country bumpkin. I can’t believe I have to go through with this. How stupid. How demoralizing. How degrading. I heard them call my name. I pushed back from my table, stood up with shaking legs and walked across the dining room to the microphone.Continue reading →
Here is another new “travel story.” Like usual, it is presented as fiction even though it might be more of less true…
The Coyotes Howl
The coyote has now appeared to me three times in recent days. Once, in reality, on a pre-dawn walk in the forest and twice in the cards with my morning coffee. Does that, perhaps, mean that the coyote character or the coyote experience is about to manifest and throw my day to day existence for a loop? I don’t know. I can only ride this roller coaster I can’t direct which way it goes. The first encounter occurred on December 13 at dawn. I was tripping out from food fasting and I went for a wander around the pre-dawn wintry forest without a flashlight. Does that sound crazy? Well, yes, maybe a little, but not really. I should probably explain.
It all started with my annual cleansing ritual. My cleanse… that’s what I call it. I have followed the same routine every year for over twenty years. At the end of my work season in early November, I quit all four of my favorite indulgences; no more weed, no more caffeine, no more alcohol and no more more sugar. I give them all up for about six weeks up until the moment of the winter solstice. There is no specific religious or spiritual motive behind my cleanse as I first began the cleanse to help me with severe winter depression. But I have continued the ritual for over twenty years now so it sort of does feel like a spiritual or meditative process. I rather enjoy the re-boot to my system and I think it is very good for my overall well-being.
Some years back, in 2007, I added a three day food fast to the middle of the cleanse. Again, the fast does not have a religious or spiritual motive. I just met this impressive older world traveler human at a cafe in Chiapas, Mexico and in the midst of regaling me with his tales of travels far and wide he detoured into a rather detailed and interesting dissertation on the benefits of fasting. I was fascinated by his story so I decided to try a three day fast a few days later when I was camped out in the jungle near the Guatemalan border. My experience was amazing and I believe very beneficial for my physical and mental health. As such, I have added it to my annual routine.
This year, I started my fast on the 10th of December. I ate my last meal for dinner on the 9th and would not eat again until sunrise on the 13th. Nothing but water with a little cheater squeezed lemon juice flavor for four nights and three days. It’s probably a weird thing to say but I rather enjoy fasting and I can understand how a person could become addicted to it. But I only do it once a year. It’s been ten years now… every year some time in early December. I go for 80 something hours… Sunset to sunrise with three full days in between. The fasting guru at the cafe in Chiapas told me you have to go a minimum of 70 hours to transform your body and kick on the cell rejuvenator. I’ve never researched it further and I’m not exactly sure what a cell rejuvenator is but I can say from my experience that something remarkable does indeed happen to the body on or about the 70 hour point. The sensation of hunger disappears, the body feels weak and the brain starts to wander in ethereal realms. The hours that follow are like some kind of spirit ride… Continue reading →
I’m still working out the details for my plan to add audio stories to this site or somewhere else. In the mean time, here is a new written story… not exactly a travel story but it does have a tenuous connection to my world wandering. As usual, I present it as fiction… but it just might be a little bit true.
The Coyote Strikes…
I don’t really believe in my medicine cards… But, I sort of do. Actually, I feel pretty much the same about all “spiritual games.” A long time ago, when I was but a young aspiring writer, I learned how to read tarot cards because a character in one of my novels was a tarot card reader and I wanted to understand the conceptual framework so that I could properly write the character. I even made my own deck and began doing readings for people at parties and social events. It was fun. Kind of like juggling metaphors and using your “client” as the main character in a spontaneous story. After a while though, things got kind of strange. My spontaneous stories were eerily accurate. My “clients” started to take my readings way too seriously. On several occasions, “clients,” burst into sobbing tears and unloaded deep dark personal family secrets on me. Totally bizarre situations. I was reading the cards for fun. It was a free service. I never charged any money because I really enjoy story-telling for a captive audience. But then, I started to feel like a psycho-therapist. I was practicing without a license and was way unqualified. When I came to understand this strange power I had over my “enthusiastic clients,” it sort of freaked me out. So I just stopped doing readings for other people.
Nowadays, I still read the cards on occasion, but only for myself personally or people I know and trust to be light-hearted about such stuff. I also like to read Nordic Runes and toss the sticks for I Ching combos. Astrology is fun in every culture. And once you understand the game… the principles of dynamic opposition. You only need to know the names of the characters and you can tell a story in any religion/metaphor. The question is; do you believe the story to be “true” of do you realize it is just a story?
What I call “subjective truth,” is believing that your reality is the reality. If you believe in the validity of tarot cards or runes or your astrological charts, or even your lord and savior J.C., your belief in those stories will cause those stories to have a significant impact on your day to day experience as a human being. In other words, the stories are subjectively true for you because as a variable they impact your consciousness. If you don’t believe, it’s not true… if you do believe it is true.. But what if you are somewhere in the middle? You kind of sort of believe all of it but you don’t really believe any of it? Which brings me to the coyote… Continue reading →
If time is linear, it took me eleven years to write this novel. If time is relative, it took me oh, I’d say about three years. If, however, time is metaphorical, I’m working on the same story right now, always and forever, for all eternity…
I’m not positive, but I think I started telling stories as soon as I started speaking. The early ones were crazy long winded tales with exotic creatures, heroes and villains. I never wrote those early stories down because they were all off the cuff continuous streams of fantasy that only sought to entertain my immediate audience (the other kids in my grade school class). In college, however, I learned that it was theoretically possible to make a living if I could turn stories into a commercial product called a novel. So I studied the processes and procedures of novel writing and tried to learn how to do it. Then, shortly after I finished my formal education, I wrote one. It wasn’t very good. It had too many metaphors, ideas and words crammed into a single book. It ended up in the bottom drawer of an old desk that was accidentally burned in a bonfire.
I started my traveling life shortly after that first novel ended up as ashes. Continue reading →