You've seen it in a hundred movies: The hero travels to the wilderness, has some sort of epic quest/giant showdown/inner epiphany that grants him the weapon/secret technique/inner strength/life lesson he needs to win in the climactic battle, and emerges triumphant. It's a powerful symbol, perhaps even a cliché. The wilderness (often, but not always, a desert) removes the character from their comfort zone, forces them to push their boundaries, offers a setting for a struggle unlike anything the hero has yet faced. They emerge stronger, wiser, and sometimes even spiritually enlightened.
I planned my trip as a transformative spiritual experience. It's been nearly two months now. So how has it measured up?
The bottom line is, this is one of the few areas in which my expectations have been at all close to reality. I doubted there would be any great epiphany, or even much time for abstract reflection. I knew it would be exhausting and drag my focus very much into the present and concrete. It has, in fact, been an extremely grounding experience. You tune your senses in so much to your body and your surroundings, out of safety if nothing else, that there just isn't really room for the transcendent.
It has been quite a spiritual journey -- in a Zen Buddhist sort of way. One long two-month koan. Life as spirit, spirit as life, moving with the rhythm of your surroundings. Walking the path in front of you, because it is your path to walk, learning to accept all of its twists and turns, both literal and metaphorical.
That doesn't mean there hasn't been room for spirit. Thea and Savi have been my constant companions, and, at times, guides and protectors. There was that odd and quite supernatural-feeling encounter with the cloud. There have been the moments and miles of connection -- with random local spirits, jigsaw parts of a greater whole, and with that whole itself. I don't know what to say about those, though, really. They've just been part of my trip, no more, no less than picking my feet up off the ground to take each new step.
For the most part, that's been the lesson I'm learning so far: That the spiritual connections are just sort of there, something that exists outside of me whether I'm watching or not, something I can choose to pick up and follow or choose to ignore as I go along. That they're just another part of life, another element in the grand and varied vista through which I trod.
(Out of Internet time again. The library has odd hours here. ... About 24 hours until kadyg's visit! Yay!)