Inner Journey – The Infinite Longing
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
“Look, up there, it’s just beyond those clouds…….” Beyond the clouds, over the horizon, just out of reach……. Over The Rainbow…… That was the feeling I had, gazing dreamily at the progressing pictures in the sunset over the harbor, the other day on Black Beach. Indigo skies with a striking pocket of gold, mesmerized my eyes and my mind. It was that golden opening in the dark clouds, encompassing layers of pink and blue mountaintops, that drew me in – to a longing for something unknown.
I’ve felt this longing before, often inspired by nature. When hiking in Glacier Park, you know you’ve got to turn back, in time to get in before dark. Traipsing through the wilds of Montana, at night, unprepared, can be dangerous. Yet – “Just five more minutes, I want to see where that trail goes….. Let’s see what’s ahead. There’s got to be a great view, just over that ridge…..” It happens every time.
In Tibet the feeling was even stronger. The wilderness of Tibet, past the places of people and towns, is vast, open and huge. The dry atmosphere of this extreme elevation supports few clouds and scrubby trees. A crystal clear sky, with a blue, so deep and intense it could make you cry, yields a view of infinity. You stand at ten thousand feet looking upward to jagged peaks of twenty thousand. The mountains sprawl out on to the plains, as big as entire continents on an ocean of brown prairie. Then, as you peer across the boundless landscape, there it is, an opening in the distance, between mountains. The sun, lower in the sky now, shoots it’s rays into the gap and this mountain pass becomes a portal, into a city of gold. Lightheaded, you’re drawn into the musky smell and jingling tramples of a lumbering caravan of yak. Your imagination lures you on. “Where are they going? And what waits for me in this glimmering paradise?” It was then, that I understood the eternal search for Shangri La.
And it was yesterday on the beach, that I realized this feeling I’ve had since childhood is not exceptional to me, it is universal. The classic song Somewhere Over the Rainbow, is so well loved because it illustrates this ubiquitous theme.
“Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.”
I know singer, K.D. Lang’s understands. You can hear it in her voice when she sings Constant Craving.
“Maybe a great magnet pulls
All souls towards truth
Or maybe it is life itself
To its youth.
Has always been”
But why? What makes us yearn for what’s beyond our grasp, what we cannot see? Is it a discontent with our current circumstance? Maybe….. But did the great explorers of the world take on the dangers of the unknown, risking their lives at every turn, because they weren’t too happy at home? I think it goes deeper – down into the roots of what it means to be human.
We humans are dreamers. In childhood, before we are told of our so called limitations, we dream big dreams. “What if I could fly,” we think as we watch out the window as an eagle soars. We fashion wings out of cardboard and we play and pretend, until the adults make us get back to business. But some press on, holding tight to their aspirations. First they are scoffed at, but later, like Wilbur and Orville, they may become heroes. The idea of following your dreams is not only the thread that runs through my writing, it is the fiber that holds together my life. Though some of my readers like to think of me as a hero, my pocketbook is still in the “scoffed at” stage. Just yesterday, in a phone call, my mother asked me. “Isn’t it about time you came back to the States, Lisa, and got a real job?” No, it is not.
We all have our dreams, big or small, blatantly advertised to all who will listen, or hidden deep down in our hearts. It is human to dream and want for more. In my younger years I kept my dreams on the small side. I wanted a horse, and an upright piano like my grandmother had. And I wanted to be able to live with no regard for time, other than the rising and setting of the sun. The horse and the piano have come and gone. I live with little thought for the clock. I never wear a watch, yet I always seem to know what time it is. And still I have more dreams to dream and a yen for adventure.
One of these days I’ll take a road trip through Costa Rica. I’ve already got a long list complied, of people – friends and strangers – to visit. That will be fun. But my bigger dream is to have the wherewithal to just get in the car and go. On this trip there will be no time limits or destination. Just drive. “Want to take a left? Do it. Hummm, that road looks interesting, let’s see what’s around the corner. Dead end? Just turn around and start again.” Impromptu, unconstrained adventure will be the order of the day. That wherewithal is key. (I hate to go into these things unprepared.) I don’t have it now, but like the piano and the horse, it will come. And believe me, when it does, I will write about it!
So there you have it – on a somewhat melancholy afternoon at Black Beach the magical power of nature pulled me back into the consciousness of why I am here in the first place – to follow my dreams. Yes, that day I was feeling down, not really knowing why. I resolved to go out to the ocean and just stay there, until I felt better. I stood, the waves washing around me, watching the bubbles rise and the foam slosh every which way. Rows of rolling white energy crashed and surged up again. I was comforted by their consistency. The waves kept on coming, running in to shore, one after the other, and you never have to do anything to help them. Nature’s beauty is there for you in every moment, no matter what.
I planted my feet in the sand and remained, as the sea rose and fell around me. The sun, declining in the sky, reflected liquid gold, silver blue and a rosy amber, into the ocean. My eyes were drawn up to the source of the color and I was spellbound by it’s beauty. There was that pocket of brilliance in the sky, with its promise of heaven. Caught up in a mystical moment, I abandoned my earthly concerns and felt the intensity of being human. Within the primordial longing, was an even deeper knowing, that here in nature, all was at peace. The thirst, the craving, the lure of the unknown are simply signs of life – jewels in our treasure chest of experience. Let us rejoice in being alive!