Presence – The Way of The Road
“Those who seek the Way let go of something everyday.” Laozi
When my husband and I first started RV’ing, or now trendy description, Glamping (glamour camping) I hated it. He on the other hand was so enthusiastic about the idea of traveling around the West exploring and camping in a motor coach that I caved. Though to me, as I expressed to him during those first couple of years, the RV was nothing but an oversized out-house.
Steve, my husband, grew up camping in his beloved state of Oregon. Me, a Chicago suburb girl, not so much. While we did enjoy boating as kids, and water skiing, we slept in the nearby Holiday Inn on the weekends. And my mother, bless her hard-working soul, kept up the tradition of Sunday afternoon pasta dinners, even at the lake. How she did it, I’ll never know. So camping, real out in the woods camping, nope, not in my repertoire.
It’s been almost 10 years now and somewhere along the byway, I think it was Park City Utah as a matter of fact, I fell in love. The magnificence of the mountains, plains, forests, rivers and streams took my breath away. Meeting people from different parts of our amazing country expanded my world view.
The local foods, customs, accents that I encountered grabbed my attention and opened my mind and heart in ways I never dreamed. Who knew that from state to state, city to city, county to county, there was so much history, so much diversity, so much goodness that held our humanity together.
At first it seemed picture perfect. Hitting the open road in our RV. My husband at the helm, me acting as navigator, and our Wheaton Terrier snuggled up on the sofa. The fridge filled with home-made goodies and dinners to place on the barbecue. My teaching manuals, a stack of new books and my laptop packed away, with the remainder of my “stuff” filling the closets.
Wow! “The life” as they say. Svatantrya – Ultimate Freedom!
You’d think I’d know better though, right? Nothing is perfect. Nor is it supposed to be. Whether encapsulated in a moving tin box or sitting in the comfort of your home, life continues to swirl around.
Spanda. Pulsing, vibrating, cracking open, fizzuring, breaking apart and coming together again. No one, not me or my husband can hide away from the ordinariness of life. Nor the wind gusts or explosions of a life well lived.
I’ve learned to see the way of the road in an RV as a metaphor for one’s life. It’s the way into growth. The way into one’s truth.
I can tell you that being broken down in an RV on the side of a highway betwixt and between feels much the same as when my life blew apart as a result of what I call personal tsunamis. The fear that arises and grips your heart and mind doesn’t know how to differentiate the root cause. Sorrow is sorrow. Fear is fear.
Watching my 10 year-old arthritic Wheaton trip, fall, and yelp in pain is dreadful whether it happens along the spectacular Columbia Gorge boardwalk or in the so called safety of my backyard.
Driving smoothly along the Pacific Northwest’s well maintained roads reminded me of the boats sailing through Seattle harbor. When crossing the invisible border into California we suddenly felt jolted by the poor conditions of the highways. Pavement rutted and disintegrating we rocked side to side, bounced up and down, and slammed our way to our next destination.
Grateful to be in one piece I raced to the bathroom to find the toilet seat had vibrated loose and was hanging on by one little screw. How can you not laugh at that sight? An apt end to the day you might say. Ha! After rejuvenating showers, glasses of Pinot Noir in hand, and ready to watch the news to check in with the world outside – you guessed it. The wires of the TV had also come loose. No connection. No television. No wi-fi. Nada.
As they’re quite common now, even outside of the yoga world, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrases often enough to become mantras; be in the moment, look for the blessings, it happens for a reason. First, I don’t believe that everything in life, good, bad or indifferent happens for a reason. Sometimes it’s lila, it’s just happenstance. Second, the expressions, be in the moment, and look for the blessings, feels over-done to me, and sometimes even trite, yet I admit that’s exactly what I’ve learned to do on the road.
I’ve become a collector. Not of antiques, or spoons, or whatever – but of precious poignant moments that help shape the memories of my experience. Memories that I store in the tabernacle of my heart, to carefully take out and re-fill me with gratitude for life itself. For acceptance. Joy. And yes, even sadness.
The moment when by chance I gaze up at the shapes and forms of gauzy clouds in a brilliant blue sky only to spy lace doilies that once covered the arms of my grandmother’s dark blue velvet sofa.
When I can sit in the circle of friends round a campfire at the waters edge filling the air with stories and laughter and know it to be sacred.
Watching sail boats off in the distance bringing to my mind model boats that my son and husband painstakingly built together.
The falling light, an invitation for the stars to reveal themselves and magically I remember that I too am stardust.
A hike through a canopied forest after the day’s rain. The earth beneath my feet fecund and alive. An affirmation of the cycles of life.
What I’ve learned on the road is that we can’t hide from the pain of life. Just as we can’t hold on tight-fisted to the joys. We can meet both the joys and the sorrows head on. Feel into the emotions. Then like the precious gifts they are return them gently. Replace them into the cavern of your heart.
Presence helps me to remember to live beyond my pose. Presence helps me to remember to love my life in all of its messiness.