The last few weeks have been really on the go...
Mickey's Final Memorial
I went out to Colorado to store my remaining possessions at my dad's house, and also to attend the memorial service for my brother at Beaver Creek, CO, where he worked as a ski instructor for many years. It was much harder than I expected. Maybe it was because the weekend was the last of the ski season there. Maybe it was because all the folks in Mickey's community there were really choked up, and miss him greatly.
Who knows -- but I was far more emotional than expected. Getting hammered on the ski slopes dressed up as a "cougar-in-training" and not eating much might have had something to do with it...but, nah!
All the folks in Mickey's mountain community were just lovely! Such gracious & beautiful people there, who just adored my brother. They showed me a good time - we drank together, danced together, and grieved together. They are all very supportive of my project, and were happy to see me. Some I had met before, and others I just met that weekend. We hugged, we smiled, we laughed, we cried, and we wished each other well, not wanting to leave after last call, not wanting to see my pickup pull out of town, just for one moment clinging to that magical bond Mickey had over all of us, that bond of smiles & good times, of love & laughter.
As I pulled onto I-70 in a sleet storm, I switched on the audiobook on my iPod immediately. Hearing the lilt of the actor's voice helped me keep it together on the drive. It was final. That was it. There were no more events to be had, no more pint glasses to clink. He's gone, and that's all there is to it.
The drive back through the deserts of Utah & Nevada were exactly what I needed. The wide expanse of sagebrush & dirt devils being whipped up in narrow valleys surrounded by bands of guards made of rock, keeping watch over coyotes and hawks, kept me sane. I didn't want to be around anybody, and that's exactly what happened. Thankfully.
All that space gave me room to breath, and just be. Back in Oakland, it was a whirlwind to zip up to Bear Valley for a mountaineering class, which was a ton of fun, and very educational. I learned all new techniques, and got banged up a bit on the self-arrest practice with the ice axe. It rained/snowed/sleeted the entire two days, but I didn't mind. I was outdoors all day making new friends, and learning things to keep me alive on the big peaks. What couldn't be perfect about that?
I also had a great leap on letting go of control. The person I carpooled with was late the first morning of class, and as I was rushing to get to the ski area from our lodges, lost control of the truck on the slick road. We fishtailed a bit, then slammed into a snowbank. All of us were ok: me, my carpoolmate, and Geena the pickup. A highway patrolman came a few minutes to check if we were alright. A tow truck came a few minutes after that. The tow truck driver said we were lucky because he had to come up there for another spinout an hour before. If he wasn't there, we would have waited an hour for him to drive up from the nearest town!
Because of this, we made it to the class on time! The instructors & other students were so gracious & concerned about our well-being. Something in what my companion said, made me realize I acted foolishly. Even though we were late, I used poor judgement on how fast I was going, and not engaging the 4WD. So, I apologized for that. I told my new friend I was sorry I put his life in danger by making poor choices. The entire morning, I didn't yell, I didn't point the finger of blame. I treated him like a human being that makes mistakes, just like me. Jeez - it's usually _me_ that's late all the time!
He was very touched by this. As a result, we had a wonderful heart-to-heart on the way back home Sunday night, and became friends. This is the flame of Mickey working through me. He was the one who was gracious, and treated people kindly when they messed up. It's sad that I'm learning this lesson from such a tragedy, but at least I'm learning it.
The SpokenCoast Project
The website is being built. The lead design guy just introduced me to a great PR guy who will help craft a marketing plan to promote the project. I'll be out of my apartment by the end of the week, and house sitting or couch surfing.
I'm in dire need of a lot of gear, and also a videographer to help me film the journey. But, at the moment, I'm focused on gathering up my remaining belongings into my truck, and making myself mobile. It's scary as hell, but the moment is here.
As I came across old papers to clean up, I found this poem that my dear friend Chelsea Griffie, my rock climbing mentor, gave to me. She often uses it in her wilderness training classes. It goes along with another poem, that she reads at the end of the journey. When my journey is over, I'll publish that one. But for now, here is the poem that starts the journey off:
--Oriah Mountain Dreamer (an Indian Elder)
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain!
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you're telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from God's presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.
It doesn't interest me who you are, how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
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