Monday, July 8, 2013
California Wilderness: Explorations of Self
From Phoebe Reid, aka Starling:
After six weeks in the woods I began a new journey, a journey of expanse and depth unlike any I had taken before. Just like the salmon I have inked just above my left inner ankle, I swam into the ocean of my thoughts, the ocean of the wilderness, and the ocean of hunger, prepared to bob for the four days of my solo, out at sea. I swam away from the stream of my tribe, my idea of the meaning behind Sierra Institute, and my idea of my previous self. Up a river I walked, and then I sat, watching time and Mergansers float by - too slowly - watching my fears and struggles surface and again plunge under like the rapids in front of me.
Day one – I can do this, I thought to myself. This hunger? It's nothing. The time moving so slowly? I can handle it. I am strong. I am everything I thought I was and I'm sure I'm more too. I've got this.
Day two –All I want is corned beef and hash. All I want is for time to move faster... Why isn't the sun going down? Why is it still light out as I crawl into my tent, cold and lonely and falling asleep? Why are there still so many days left?
Day three – Strength returns. I stand on a rock and shout to the air, to the trees and the river, to my past insecurities and my future self.
Day four – Tomorrow's the day. The day for food. For my tribe. For conversation and intimacy and love. If I can just get through today…. But now is the time: a fierce moral inventory, a look at my weaknesses, my sadness and the holes in my life. Where am I flawed? Where do I need healing? These questions follow me as I write letters and finish a book and watch the moon rise. And I gaze across the moonlit tree tops until I know. My answer is revealed, one I had heard over and over again but never understood until now.
Something was clear now that I'd never seen before, something that family and friends said they saw in me too. I still cannot name it, but I can say this: I arrived where I started and suddenly I knew this place – our home in the Yolla Bollys, my home in the tribe, and my home in myself, for the first time.