October 4, 2013
The Big Trip has come to an end.
Just as it was hard to believe during the few weeks before starting our trip that we were actually going to leave home, it has been hard to believe over the past few weeks that we were going to be home again. We ended The Big Trip the same way we began it. Our first and last nights were with Chris’s sister in Menlo Park and our next and previous nights were at Mercey Hot Springs. This symmetry seemed fitting for re-entry.
Although I have written mostly about the outer journey – places and events – it is the inner journey that has been most important. I will continue to complete a record of our travels through stories and photographs, but my big job now will be to understand and integrate what has shifted inwardly. I do not know yet how much of that process I will put on my blog. It may take months, if not longer, to fully survey this new inner landscape.
During the past two week I noted that many of the tasks we had done so many times we were doing for the LAST time. The last time washing my hair under difficult conditions, the last grocery shopping in an unfamiliar supermarket, the last withdrawal from an ATM machine, the last time collecting quarters for a laundromat, the last trip photograph and, of course, the last supper. Some of these I am happy to leave behind, but others I will quickly miss. Endings, change, transitions, all hallmarks of impermanence. But beginnings and birth are also part of impermanence and I will be starting life afresh in Santa Cruz.
I had many reasons for going on this extended “drive-about”. To restore myself after a few too many years of demanding work. To re-evaluate, re-assess and re-vision my role as a Buddhist teacher. To clarify my deepest intentions for what I have left of this life. To give freer rein to the “wandering monk” within. To step out of routine and schedules and into immediacy and spontaneity. To be awed everyday by the natural world. To create space for my writer’s voice to speak. These were all fulfilled to varying degrees.
A deep bow of gratitude to the many wonderful people who supported this sabbatical year of travel and introspection. May the rewards of this trip be worthy of your faith in me. And thank you to those who spent time reading this blog; it helped me feel that the effort was worthwhile!
Chris said philosophically the other day, “The trip will continue once we’re home, it will just change.” Yes, we will still be on a journey, the mysterious trip of the unfolding present.
I will continue to be a student of Nature: inner nature, true nature and wild nature. And I will always be a student of wonder.