Saturday, June 12, 2010

Heart Quest

Annie was lost, and loving every minute of it. When she had begun her two-month vacation, hiking by herself in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she had almost been swayed by the pleas of her friends. Take a cell phone, take a companion, take a dog. Take a cell phone.

She hadn't caved. She was here, deep in the forest, miles from another human being. No technology within touching distance, not even a watch. In the eyes of civilized society, if she got hurt, or vanished without a trace, it would be because she was irresponsible, naive, or just plain stupid.

More than once during the first several weeks, she had faced situations that made her agree with that. This morning, sitting on the edge of a cliff and watching the sun rise, she didn’t feel that way. The sky turned pink, orange and violet colors, so beautiful she felt like wrapping herself in them and twirling. So she did. Shedding her clothes, she danced in the many passionate shades of the changing early light. The warmth of the morning sun kissed her damp skin, a reward for her ardent sun ritual.

She had been a practicing Wiccan for ten years, but the momentum of day-to-day life meant that monthly rituals were a mere smile and distracted prayer at the full moon. Gatherings with her old coven were few and far between, and she found she didn’t have the time before those get-togethers to still her brain, turn it off so she could benefit from the energies that such events attracted.

She had decided it was time to untie the spiritual and emotional knots and test herself physically, open up the energy centers and drum out the bullshit. Except for the voices of nature, she wanted absolute quiet. The sounds of the phone, people on the street, even the whine of her refrigerator, were making her lose her mind.

While she believed in reincarnation, every life was too short. The daily regimen of sleep, work, eat, TV and start all over again was squandering a life the Lord and Lady were holding out right under her nose, a world of awareness and connection she was missing, too busy grinding it to dust on the treadmill of daily life.

She had many people in her life she loved and who loved her, but no one to whom she could explain her urgency to abandon civilization and go on this hiatus by herself.

In her younger days, she had camped extensively. Backpacked through Europe, helped build houses deep in the Appalachian mountains, on Native American reservations and in Third World countries. She’d been part of a student group that hiked with natives from Brazil to the coast of Venezuela through miles of rain forest, carrying only essential provisions and living off the land as the natives did. She’d spent one summer in the company of a tribe of Aborigines in Australia to help her complete her sociology thesis. Ten years later, she remembered the solitude of that tribe, the tranquility that pervaded their daily lives. Those memories, and the skills she’d acquired from those youthful adventures, had given her what she needed to embrace this personal quest.

For that was how she viewed this trip. A quest. To find the truth in her life.

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