|At the edge of the continent and consciousness|
The low groan of the didgeridoo in the world-famous hot, sulfur baths perched on the edge of the continent awakens a deep quiet in the crowd. A few dozen inner voyagers are arrayed in claw footed bathtubs, massage tables, poured concrete shallow tubs, and on the narrow ledges. The room is devoid of words and movement while the Aboriginal dream making instrument weaves its magic on the crowd of seekers. Human shapes are barely distinguishable as male or female in the misty, impromptu meditation hall but it is possible to see groups of two or three in still embrace in the water and on the tables. Not a stitch of clothes in the group, not a towel strategically draped, and not a person in authority but simply a gathering of folks clothed only as the Creator made them. A family for the moment, self-selected from the larger clan staying at the famous institute dedicated to expansion and exploration of human potential. The play of the didgeridoos low growl and periods of silence highlight the magic of this place.
At long last I was called to Esalen to partake of the elixir of the waters and the land, under the pretext of taking a workshop by the renowned career counselor/ shaman Rick Jarow. Encouraged and sometimes pushed by a friend to take the leap out of my ‘been there, done that’ mood of late, the experience was right on time. Living in an area known for its counter-culture and its cutting edge spirituality, it is easy to slip into my professional know it all attitude (in my past life I was a teacher). What am I gonna learn and besides I listened to the book? After calling Dr. Jarow with my whine, he said ‘it isn’t the workshop or the data, it is the land and the waters that transform.’ As a faithful spiritual warrior and recovering seminar junkie, it behooved me to add this esteemed location to my spiritual/ personal growth resume. Being a practical Capricorn, the goat rears its sure footed legs and kicks me onto scenic Hwy 1 to Big Sur. At the same time, there was the strong sense of discovery to be found up north.
From the moment of arrival with my trusty sidekick, the Runner, it felt aligned and synchronistic. After checking in the instructor appears from the mist and I stick out my hand without hesitation…’Greetings Rick, I am here.’ From there it was an easy flow from the waters to the communal dining to ‘chance’ meetings on the trails or the baths. The week was long and pushed my ‘know it all’ buttons at times and many times sheer joy arose for no reason. Dipping into this instant community aged from 20s to 70s, representing all ethnicities and a wide range of economic classes, welcomed by the warm semi-permanent community of 200, was a long awaited journey home. The tribe was here and they were no longer hidden and dispersed in the masses of the city. Smiling generously at each person I met and sharing meals was comforting. One can’t be lonely here for long, alone yes, but not lonely in this group.
Surrendering to the journey and opening to my desire for community caused me to face my ‘story.’ How can I say I am about community when I push away these open hearts? Bogus…In a moment of truth telling with the co-facilitator, I got it…I got what I asked for and can I say yes? I did and am glad. In my workshop there was an unusually large contingent from my section of the metropolis in the south. That was a very clear indicator that at home in the big city, the anonymous city, I am not really alone. My tribe is here at Esalen and at big, anonymous L.A. A couple weeks ago I met a couple in Big Bear Lake and this week I met them en masse in Esalen. As was said in the workshop, ‘this is a good day to die.’ My addendum: A good day to die to the old, isolated, anonymous self and see the friendly trees in this dense forest and the misty hot tubs. Next week’s blog explores finding the flow of synchronicity or meaningful coincidence in travel.