Archive for the ‘Sony A550 DSLR’ tag
Now this is a big bird, a Chachalaca. There is a small group of these which appear near my patio in the afternoon. They are so big, I wonder how they manage to stay on the thin branches of the tree. They make me think of partridges and grouse, good tasting game birds in Canada. I wonder if they are on the menu for Mayans?
I am getting a bit more time for Internet today as the weather has turned cooler with thick cloud cover due to a weather system that is coming from the north over the Gulf of Mexico, a system called el norte. This is a good thing as it gives my poor skin time to rest from constant exposure to intense sunlight as well as time to explore the town nearby. We have been here ten days and already I am a significant dark shade of bronze. The weather system began yesterday afternoon which resulted in my actually taking the time to begin some frivolous reading rather than continuing to focus on psychology, Buddhism and naturism topics.
With that said, it’s time to sit back, surf the ‘Net for a while, enjoy another cup of coffee and do as much of nothing as I can get away with for now. This afternoon, the beach walk is being scrapped for a longer walk down a broken road into the village proper in search of some interesting photos, sand fly ointment, and another bottle of wine.
Yesterday I spoke about an inner and an outer journey and how one’s journey becomes an event that has an effect on all those who surround us, either directly or indirectly. Today, I want to focus on self. The outer journey begins as my plane takes off at 1:05 pm Central Standard Time, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Some hours later I transfer in Toronto, Ontario, Canada en route to Paris, France. Just thinking of taking leave of my wife at the airport already brings tears to my eyes. A song is going through my head, Leaving on a Jet Plane, as sung by John Denver, a song that I have played on my guitar countless times. Each time I have sung this song, it has moistened my eyes and built up pressure within my chest, each time somehow intuitively aware that this was also my song to my wife in some future time. Today is that time. Today, I am leaving on a jet plane.
My journey is taking me deep into my own unconscious, deep into an unknown country of silences, shadows and ruins, a place where I will be battling ghosts and dragons that are unique to my psyche. Yet, because they are found in my unconscious, they are not so unique in the collective sense. I will be bumping into the ghosts and dragons of my father and mother and others. Slaying these ghosts and dragons is probably not the right way to explain what will happen, perhaps it would be better to say that I will be embracing these ghosts and monsters with forgiveness and compassion so that they can achieve peace in order for me to also achieve peace.
I fly into the sky in order to plant my feet on the path of pilgrimage. I fly into the inner world as if to the moon underwater in order to plant my spirit and soul on their pilgrimage. Bon Chemin, Buen Camino.
It is our anniversary today. My partner in life, a woman who inspired me to propose the evening we met (yes, she accepted at that time) is close by my side as I prepare this post, looking at photos we have taken over the past week. I am in awe of this woman who somehow has found the strength to be strong as I prepare to make a very long journey, a pilgrimage in France and Spain. It would have been easy to give up the pilgrimage if she had not insisted that I follow my spirit. I know that over the next several months we will both have melt-downs simply because we are apart from each other. We have not done well being apart. Yet, this time apart has become important for both of us. Coming back together is the prize for being strong in terms of relationship. But an even greater prize is how both of us will have become “fuller” people in the process; stronger as individuals who choose to continue being life mates, heart mates.
Where will this dual journey take us? The answer is unknown; it is all about discovery as we both navigate each day separated from the other, forced to be fully connected to self. We will meet each day on an outer level as we pass the hours in a multitude of ways. But it is the inner journey that will likely prove to be the most difficult as we wrestle with loneliness and separation. I have no doubt that each day will see us both wondering what the hell we are doing apart from each other, especially at those times when we are most doubtful about ourselves. But then again, the fact that these journeys are about to begin is a testament in their own ways that we are both ready for these journeys.
When I began thinking about the pilgrimage and then planning it, I had thought that I was the only one going on a pilgrimage. Now, after the long preparation for the pilgrimage, I have learned that we are both going on journeys. That is one thing that is vital to understand. When you are in a relationship with another person, everything you do creates ripples for that other person. As I began to learn more about how this affected both of us, I became more aware of how it affected others around both of us – our children, our grandchildren, extended family, community friends . . . and the list will grow to include others that neither of us are as yet aware. And curiously, as we both see the affect on others, we find ourselves changing yet again due to the ripples of their changes.
And so I thank all who fill my life as I prepare to board a jet plane tomorrow to begin the physical pilgrimage where the journey is about placing one foot on the path and then taking another step and another step until I have reached Santiago de Compostela. I include you, my readers here in this thank you for your presence here is real and you are within the web of reciprocal change.
With just over a week remaining until my departure for Europe, I find myself doing a lot of thinking about too many things. In an effort to still the thinking I have resorted to finding all sorts of things to do such as digging out old berry bush roots, trimming hedges, and sorting through things that have been sorted too many times already; all without achieving much success at keeping the thinking at bay. Even my meditation sessions have been getting noisy. I guess it is to be expected as a journey into the unknown (spiritually and psychologically) will become an active, day-to-day process.
I have packed my travel items into the backpack and weighed it a number of times. I have about 15 pounds (7 kilograms) including the backpack as my target weight. So far, I have remained under that weight. I take out each piece to reconsider its necessity for the journey. Likely I am still packing too much even though I have room and weight to spare. And this focus on my backpack still doesn’t silence those voices beneath the layer of consciousness. Something else is stirring that wants to be heard.
Pretending I don’t hear, I turn to blog sites about the Camino or to the discussion forum for experience pilgrims and pilgrim wannabes. Then this morning, I picked up a book started long ago which has been lying on my shelves ignored. Why? I don’t ask why when I am drawn to a book. Rather, I just listen to what emerges.
”Death and hopelessness provide proper motivation – proper motivation for living an insightful, compassionate life.
When we talk about hopelessness and death, we’re talking about facing the facts. No escapism.
Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with yourself, to make friends with yourself, to not run away from yourself, to return to the bare bones, no matter what is going on. Fear of death is the background of the whole thing. It’s why we feel restless, why we panic, why there’s anxiety. But if we totally experience hopelessness, giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship, one that no longer ignores the reality of impermanence and death.” (Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, pp 44-45)
This is why I am embarking on a pilgrimage. I am giving up on expecting others, things, and activities to rescue me from myself. I am daring myself to face my ghosts, my dark holes, my shadows and perhaps learn to accept them and accept myself as I really am. No more chasing phantoms, no more quest for some sort of fame that would define me in acceptable ways. And to do this, I need to put myself in a place where I am alone and dependent upon my body, my spirit, my psyche and all of my warts.
In twelve days I will be sitting on a plane heading towards France and the thousand mile long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. I will be doing the first leg, a short leg, in the city of Paris before taking the train to Le Puy en Velay where the process will begin in earnest. At this time, with less than two weeks to go, I find that all of my “stuff” is ready for the most part. But that is just “stuff,” the easy part to get ready. There really isn’t too much to ponder when it comes to socks, pants and tops and other long-hike essentials. The hard part is being ready psychologically and spiritually.
How does one leave a home and one’s soulmate for such an extended period of time? I find myself treasuring each moment with my wife, my house, my garden and the small things that make a life at home. For the most part, I have given up thinking of past and future and have been living in the moment. I guess I am learning how to see the world from a more Buddhist perspective.
But that said, I find myself returning to the computer at times, usually with the excuse of unsubscribing from those groups and businesses that somehow find a way to fill one’s e-mail mailbox. And while on the computer I find myself reading other blog sites of people who have gone before me taking the Le Puy route. And in those moments I am lost in some future following their words and my imagination. I could call it informational preparation, but it is more than that. And in those moments, I am anything but being present in the moment. Rather, I am like this tree stuck out on a point of land surrounded by water wondering where the path of my life has gone, as though I am in some dream searching for some directional marker to lead me back home.
I will be back again before I fly off into another time, place, space and existential moment.
Note: Here is a good look at the GR65 route from Le Puy en Velay to Saint Jacques Pied de Port. And here is the first of many maps that chart the journey. Just a reminder that the GR65 will take me to the start of the Camino Francés at Saint Jacques Pied de Port.
Sometimes words fail me. Sometimes words create an expectation that I fail to measure up to for one reason or other. For example, the intention to blog about the pilgrimage at a different blog site. I began to follow the intention and then it blew up within me. And so, I retreated into silence
As I mentioned a number of days ago, I will be posting here very little for the next while. I have built a second blog site which will be my “main” focus for this “time out” from Through a Jungian Lens. The new site is called It’s All About The Journey.
The blog site is no more. I lost the enthusiasm to continue even before I had walked my first step of the pilgrimage. And, I retreated into silence. My children and grandchildren have helped me fill the silence over the past two weeks, a good thing as I have this tendency to slip into dark holes when things fall apart on me, within me. Today, the last of my children and grandchildren begin their journey home. I was blessed with all being home at the same time and being able to celebrate that fact together.
It was a good time but it did have an edge of sadness as all knew that in a few weeks I would be gone, basically out of communication through regular channels while on my pilgrimage.
I was fortunate to get this photo from the ground as the nest was set quite high on a pole found on the cutline south of Canmore. I walked far enough away up hill in order to attempt to get more than a bit of the osprey’s head in the image. For those interested in learning more about osprey birds, check out the wikipedia entry here.
Being a parent is a great experience and I treasure all the moments of fathering and parenting two daughters and one son. They have grown up and are now experiencing the role of parent as well. As with the baby birds in this nest, the children grow up and leave “home” to make their way in the larger world. For a parent it is as if things have fallen apart, as if one’s world has been broken. As I get older, I am finding more and more that things are falling apart. But what is important for me to understand is that in falling apart, things transform. Life presents me with an opportunity to be a new and improved version of myself.
Things fell apart for me in a significant way during the past winter as many of my readers know. I have finally reached the point where I am somewhat thankful for this. Without the falling apart, I would have delayed even longer the healing that was waiting deep within. Perhaps I would have waited too long, never getting the opportunity to put things right for my soul, my heart.
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. (Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, p. 8)
I have been reading various blogs about the Camino de Santiago with interest as someday I hope to make this journey a part of my journey. In one blog at About.Com, Damian Corrigan writes:
The Camino de Santiago, a 800km trek across northern Spain, is described by anyone who has taken it, considered taking it or met anyone who has taken it, as a Life Changing Experience (© anyone who has ever taken, considered taking or met anyone who has taken the Camino de Santiago). It is said that the combination of long-periods of solitude, combined with the diverse people that you meet, in such a beautiful setting as the Spanish countryside, will Change your Life. – Damian Corrigan
Well, having the idea of making this pilgrimage has been on my mind for a long time. Curiously it re-surfaced with the shift into midlife for me. I had been running for quite a while, road-running, taking part in marathons and other shorter races, when my feet gave out on me – heel spurs. What a time to “grounded,” so-to-speak. The dream of the camino was dismissed and I turned to a more sedentary heroic journey via Jungian psychology. This is a journey of the human psyche that is called individuation. I have been committed to this journey of transformation of the psyche hoping for miracles for almost twenty years.
At some point along the way, I came to realise that I was only doing things in half measures as I had discounted spirituality, an aspect of my integral self that had been present form very early childhood until life got in the way. Twenty-four years ago I was re-awakened to the spiritual centre within me as I sat in a cathedral in Avignon, France for Easter. With the shift to the psychological, I had found that meditation served as a healing balm. I then followed the idea of meditation to reach Buddhism.
Today, I have it all – time (retired), a bit of money (pension), a relatively fit body, a spiritual centre and a desire to walk in search of self-awareness. It appears that I have been on a pilgrim’s journey for a long, long time but not really aware that I was on that journey. The pilgrim’s journey begins when one takes the first step towards healing the soul, the heart.
As I drove towards Canmore on Sunday for my Grassi Lakes hike, I stopped at Dead Man’s Flats in honour of the many other times I had stopped there while taking my children to visit family on Canada’s west coast. It became a tradition of sorts. I stopped because I saw the moon in the morning sky above one of the mountains and thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to capture that photo. Of course, once I was out of the car I began to wander and be present with where I was. I followed my ears as they lead me to Pigeon Creek. Once at the creek I was surprised by beautiful wild flowers. The time out had worked wonders for me and I was ready to head back to the car and complete the drive to Canmore. But, before I reached the car on my way back to the village, I saw this coyote who was calmly making his way into the edge of the hamlet. And in that moment, a bit more of my spirit was healed.
“Almost everyone who undertakes a true spiritual path will discover that a profound personal healing is a necessary part of his or her spiritual process. When this need is acknowledged, spiritual practice can be directed to bring such healing to body, heart, and mind. This is not a new notion. Since ancient times, spiritual practice has been described as a process of healing. The Buddha and Jesus were both known as healers of the body, as well as great physicians of the spirit.” (Kornfield, A Path With Heart, p. 40)
The past few days have been quiet for me, weekends are like that when one is alone with no planned structure to fill the time. Like anyone else in the same situation, I am left to search for something to fill the hours, to fill the emptiness. Having turned to Buddhism, I find meditation creeping into my day when it is least expected filling those unexpected moments with deep peace. Having renewed a commitment to my body as a temple with prolonged walks as the approach to the care of my body, I find peace in those moments when “thinking” disappears and I become mindful of my steps, of the flowers, of the breezes, of the passing faces and the sounds – no thinking about them, just being aware of their presence. Meditation and walking have become my spiritual practice.
“We have become so spiritually dehydrated that we are now desperate to drink directly from the Divine Well itself and our thirst will no longer be slaked by drinking from a substitute or tainted source. We are awakening to a new spiritual age p one less dependent on an outer authority and more attuned to the God within. Conjecture is rife, but we cannot deny the statistics that point, on the one hand, to collapse, and on the other hand, to renewal. While the death of the old can be alarming, the birth of the new is always exciting. Something is undoubtedly ‘astir in the land’ and what we are witnessing is, perhaps, a collective emergence to a new spiritual reality directing our lives.” (Brierley, Camino de Santiago, p. 35)
Yesterday I went for a walk in the Canmore area. I began the walk with a short half kilometre from the parking lot down a wide and easy trail to reach a cutline that I then took for a distance of about two kilometres where I then found myself on a road as I crossed a bridge. I was looking for the entrance to the Grassi Lakes trail which I found seven hundred metres further down the trail. I then began the climb of almost two kilometres with an elevation gain of 250 metres while stopping to take photos along the way. I took the more difficult route to the top of the trail and stopped for a bit before going back to the start of the trail on the graveled path, the easy route. Once at the bottom I made the return trip retracing my steps while stopping at times for another photo opportunity of wildflowers as well as an osprey nest with mother and chicks. For this whole journey, I forgot to think about my life, about “issues” or past history or what I will be doing in the days, weeks and years to come. I somehow managed to find a spiritual centre in the act of being mindfully present, feeling the path under my shoes, feeling my body, hearing the insects and birds, feeling the light breezes and the heat rays of the sun, tasting the water from my bottles carried for the walk.
This is what I have been craving.