For the past two years I've been on a solo quest in my RV, exploring the outworld of the southwest and my inner world this second half of life is inviting me into. After finishing up my workamping in Arizona last April, I traveled to see my daughter in San Diego. Then I spent 5 weeks exploring California, visiting with old friends, driving route one along the coast, sharing some of this time with friends who joined me along the way. In June I put my rig in storage, and began my trip back to the East to live on my island for the summer. However, my first stop was in Denver to support my son in his first ultramarathon ( 100 mile trail race!) Yes, "Go Big or go Home" a phrase we've said to each other many times, But really 100 Mile trail race!?
The theme of Bookends became clear as the summer unfolded. First, My friends Paul and Michael, shared in picking me up at the airport, Hosting me overnight, driving me to my island and helping me to step up upon arrival ( no small task in 95 temps, 88 % humidity and the many physical tasks necessary in opening the island!) Their energy, time and support would be on both the front end and the back end of my arduous summer experience. They would later be there for me at the end of the summer. To have friends show up with a gesture of, " I am here for you 100%" is one of the richest gifts I'm so grateful to receive.
The next bookend was a painful lesson, having to do with shame and my inner judge. Shortly after arriving east as I was settling back into the demands of island life, I allowed myself to be scammed out of 3K. I allowed this to happen from a highly regressed place ( My inner 8 yr old had taken over). As painful as the loss of the money was, it pales in comparison to how brutal I was on myself! The self shaming, and lack of any compassion or acceptance of this fumbling brought me to my knees. The shame I inflicted upon myself, keeping me in a state of deep suffering while not wanting to speak about this to anyone, except my dear friend and mentor- Dockle. His loving, compassionate guidance, walked my down off the ledge of self hatred, to find the meaning from this experience. Unconsciously, I participated in the scam to face the fact that although I have considerable compasion, acceptance and forgiveness towards others, family, friends, clients, yet, not so much when it comes to me. I knew this intellectually, yet I required a significant wake up call to attend to my own soul.
As you may have gathered by now, I then had another opportunity to face the bookend of shame later in the summer. Although the experience was not nearly as profound, it did provide me with an opportunity to notice the shame, and practice being compassionate and loving towards myself. This time I was able to breathe in and reclaim my goodness in order to grow myself up, taking about an hour, rather than days.
On a lighter note, a third bookend was time spent with life long friends the Hoffman's. My West coast Hoffman's, Rose and Fred live in Alameda, CA put me up several times while I was traveling through CA, shuttled me to airports, checked on my rig while I was away, turned me on to the Warriors, especially Stephen Curry and always made me feel at home- not like family- they are family.
Then I spent several wonderful weekends with my East coast Hoffman's / Phaneuf's- Jeannie & Jim. We always had rich conversations, lots of laughs, a joyous evening at Jacob's Pillow, and the welcome that comes from deep philia ( committed friendships) love.
Within the bookends were numerous breakdowns: car, solar, plumbing, emotional, two hurricanes, flooding...Yes, "Life is a daring adventure or Nothing" and we all have our experiences that challenge us. I seek to find meaning more and complain less, or as my friend and mentor Paul Dunion often says, Let go of trying to get life right, let life get you right. In doing so, meaning and my soul's callings are more likely to heard.
A forth bookend was starting and ending my summer with having breakfast with Dunion. Paul embodies the wisdom of a man highly devoted to understanding the mysteries of the human condition, of heart, body, mind and soul- truly an elder. To have an older man validate, support, and encourage me and the healing path I'm on is truly a blessing. As I edit this, I was just informed of the death of Robert Bly. He brought the challenges that men face with an invitation and permission to explore our inner worlds through the mythopoetic men's movement. I had recently written to him expressing the significance he had in my life and the deep gratitude and respect I had for him. Some years ago, I was fortunate to have shared dinner with him and offered me a blessing for some insight I had during our conversation. Being deeply seen by older men is a blessing I hold dear!
Although not following the bookend theme, a trident of women showed up, not surprisingly after some significant work on my relationship to the feminine. Three different women with three different aspects of the feminine. First, with several storms and the river threatening, I got chased off the island becoming temporarily homeless. My dear friend , Nancy, a former teaching colleague of over thirty five years, opened her home several times to me. Her care and generousness touched me deeply. Next was Sharon, an amazing woman I met on the road. We had met in New Mexico, and hung out for a month, hiking, talking the issues of the world and life- she was "my people". We have stayed in touch and when we found ourselves on the east coast at the same time, she drove three hours to visit and reconnect. Then the universe brought Lori and I together. After 10 years since my divorce and minimal dating, I found a woman to explore the mysteries of relationship with soul. Eros has taken me over, as I open to mature love with Lori.
I suppose the bookend to this piece are the questions that I began this journey with and still guide my life and this quest- as I'm about to head back west. What are my callings in this second half of my life? Where am I going and who is going with me? What is my significance? What attachments are needing to be let go of as I age? What are my gifts and how can I serve? Where is my belonging? Can I stay grounded and true to myself as my heart opens to give and receive abundant love. What are the bookends currently showing up in your life?