The Slabs

Salvation Mountain, Slab City, CA

The Slabs.

No, this isn’t part of my Map of Life series. Slab City is a place that–once upon a time–fell through the cracks and has since found an identity all its own. A kind of Mecca for American nomads, it’s home to survivalists, dropouts, ex-hippies, and many others who live on the Fringe.

It’s also home to Leonard Knight, a man with a life-long passion. Leonard Knight is the man who dreamed and built and resides at Salvation Mountain–a kind of Billy-Graham-on-acid-while-listening-to-Lucy-In-The-Sky-With-Diamonds sort of place.

Odds and Ends

Lifeguard Stand N of LA

My photo from the October 28 post (the horses and the tree) is up for Travel Photo of the Week on MSNBC–so head on over there and vote for it if you liked it. It’s only the second time I’ve ever submitted a photo to a contest–I just liked the shot.

Spent yesterday exploring the coast north of LA. Very beautiful. The traffic isn’t as bad as you hear–S. FL (where I’m from) is much worse.

Today I had lunch with Chandi, the woman who interviewed me a few weeks ago. We’ve known each other virtually for a few years (six?) but we’d never met until today. Seeing her and talking about enlightenment and spirituality really helped clarify some points to my “message.” A sign of a great interaction is when everyone leaves feeling as if they’ve helped the other and been helped themselves. Felt good.

The Sierras

The Sierra Mountains

Feeling the pull for a change of atmosphere, I traveled south over the last few days, eventually finding a quiet camp at the foot of the Sierra mountains outside of Bishop, California. There is a tiny brook babbling near my rig and a few campers have set up tents a half mile or so upstream.

Though it is high desert country, the water from the brook feeds the trees and shrubs producing a line of foliage through the rocks and sand and hills. Birds nest here and, doing what birds do best, chirp and flitter about. The air is clear and clean and blue and the snow on the mountains contrasts nicely with the browns and grays and golds of the lower hills.

The isolation, the nature, and the beauty help clarify the message that seems to be circulating within me–a message that seems to want to be told. It’s futile to fight this “movement,” futile to try to make things happen–to bend it or use it. Lately it feels more natural to allow Life to live through me rather than for me.

I sit outside and look up into the mountains. It’s quite peaceful here.

Self-Consciousness

Two Windows

The sky, returning to its Pacific Northwest ways, has become grey, cloudy and pleasantly overcast – making photography both easy and pleasurable. Light and shadows, softer now, gently bring out colors and textures – smoothing boundaries and enhancing the beauty of everyday things. Wandering aimlessly among the streets and cafes and parks of downtown Eugene (Oregon), a hidden piece of wisdom surfaces that unconsciously was known for years: that a photographer’s eye forces the mind back into the Present moment. Self consciousness can’t exist simultaneously with awareness focused on Reality – with appreciation of simple beauty found in plants and walls and trees and windows and stairs.

Still, self-consciousness, though much weaker than just a month ago, remains. Walking among people again, most seem to sense something a little out-of-place. There are curious, slightly confused stares and involuntary double takes – each often followed by a warm smile or nod. Each gesture, when I catch a glimpse of them, awakens an old, irrational conditioned “tug” of self-consciousness – a tiny, infant-sized fist clenching gently in my stomach.

It’s not important though, not something to be avoided or fought with. It’s just a subtle reminder that the change I’m experiencing is gradual, that – unlike “sudden enlightenment” (where I suspect the ego is repressed) – the old mental conditioning of self-consciousness, is fading. Each small, gentle tug reminds me of who I really am – who all these curious people are: Light within Light; Awareness looking at Awareness; Wandering waves, thinking that they are separate, gliding across the deep still waters of a Divine Sea.