Sunday, October 4, 2015

Dancin' With The Grain

Just yesterday, I heard it again. “Life is a journey.” While it's hard to argue with that, lately I find myself wanting to turn the adage on its head. “A journey is life.”

I seldom feel more alive that when I set out on a trip, especially when I travel solo and into unfamiliar territory. Away from the commonplace comforts and concerns of daily existence, life speaks to me more clearly, and with a startling intimacy.

Everything is fresh. The very air of an unknown place rouses me. The landscape, be it uniquely contoured mountains or the teeming streets of an unknown city, lights me up. And the people! To be tossed among fellow humans whose ways are so different from my own, to taste food awash with exotic flavors, and to absorb the lilting cadence of a barely known language~~all these enliven me.

Are the colors really brighter, more dazzling, or am I simply seeing them as they truly are, no longer a step removed by familiarity? Of course, it is the latter. Traveling awakens me. Loosed from my spot in the stream, the current gathers me up and carries me on.

And whether I trust that flow or not, carry me it will. Yet when all is astonishingly new, I feel compelled to trust, for I know myself to be at the mercy of the unknown. What unfolds may not always be pleasant, but it will be real.

Spiritual traditions urge us to be in the moment, greeting whatever comes. Yet we are lulled by the familiar in ways that make it difficult to experience things purely, without the filters of habit. We aim to be present. We seek to drop our preoccupations and expectations, and even have techniques and practices to assist.

It is, indeed, a worthy endeavor, one that may even be essential in the quest for a rich and full life. But to be taken away from everything I think I know and thrust into an experience altogether unique is priceless. Used wisely, such journeys become an exercise for living more consciously back at home.

At a recent performance of the chamber jazz duo Primal Mates, I was introduced to a line from a poem by Gary Snyder that says it perfectly. “Catch me and fling me wide to the dancing grain of things.”

The dancing grain of things. This lovely phrase has become for me yet another metaphor for God. Seen in this light, journeying is one more way to honor the Divine, a rite of sorts. By participating fully, body and soul, I am caught up, flung wide, and offered a precious opportunity to touch that dancing grain at the heart of it all.

So, that's it from me for now. I'll catch you on the other side of Peru.

Namasté, ya'll!

Leia Marie

Oh, and while I look forward, as always, to any comments you may be inspired to send, due to my being a travelin' gal for a while, those comments likely won't be posted here for a few weeks.