There’s that beautiful feeling of being, that wells up inside you, coming from nowhere and everywhere at once.
Out on the prairie, surrounded by wind and land and clouds sitting and sifting in the sky, there’s this place that could be anywhere. I enter it.
I’ve been here before. It’s not a specific place; it’s a sense of place. And I sense it welling up inside me; me welling up inside it.
I’m on that red dirt road, running beside eucalyptus and acacia and empty train tracks. Back in Australia, six months into my trip, the first moment I actively registered, ‘I'm in Australia.’ It hit me. My dream had become a reality. I was living it right now. That hit beat to the rhythm of feet pounding out a baseline to my breath, out on a run one evening, one stretch, one distance, one never-ending cadence tapping through my whole life.
I’m in the Scottish highlands, meandering, moving, swaying along heathery mountainsides. I’m giggling and kissing and talking and walking, hand in hand and heart in heart with the love of my life. Life itself seems like a movie, a slow motion replaying of a dream I’ve had before. And yet, suddenly, I enter it, realizing I am the star …
I know this place…
I’m basking on a rock adjacent to a gurlgling spring, Beaver crick, that feeds the pond in a valley bottom settled in the shadow of the Bighorns.
I’m here, tonight, walking along ridgelines and spines of land cracked and hacked open for gravel, shit on and cloven open by cows, run and rolled on by horses, crunched over and impressed upon by wheels, and still, largely, left to its own devices — it’s own holding together of itself. That is what the land does. Until we break it open.
Granted, sometimes it breaks itself open.
It was like that tonight.
Like breaking myself open to the world, to see there was never any barrier to break in the first place. Gazing out on the vast wave of prairie, appreciating: nothing separates us; I am her expanse. Fences and definitions and expectations do nothing to inhibit our essential expansiveness.
Some think of the prairie as flat. If you walk on her far enough you see her body as anything but.
She is voluptuous and sumptuous, rolling and rollicking and revealing, hiding and seeking and curbing and swerving and flowing, opening, peaking, peeking, winking and meandering, running off and closing down and opening up, opening wide…
This is what happens inside of me, suddenly. Something opens wide, and I’m in my own life, inhabiting it as one who is really living and not just watching and waiting.
Where does this state wait for me when it’s not here? Why do I not always see life for the absolute, utter, expansive wonder it is?
Why do I not always, in every day and every place, no matter how known they may have seemed to me, find myself a stranger in an in-fact quite strange, (though previously I’d considered it quite familiar) land?
In that moment of inhabiting myself, fully, I thought: To be a foreigner in a familiar land is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.
I got outside my associations and my assumptions about knowing this place, knowing this night, knowing this life.
I let it — all of it — show me what it was. I let it stretch and express itself in my legs and in my breaths.
When we think we know anything, we miss everything.
Best I can tell, reality runs that way.
If we think we know, we think we needn’t look (truly sense; be fully present in order to observe…) for anything worth finding. We’ve been there, done that; we know already, so we’ll just be on autopilot, thank you very much.
And we feel validated then in saying, “oh, life is always the same. I know how this goes. I don’t need to be here. I don’t need to pay attention.”
But in our quantum, infinite, exponential and very real and actual reality, there’s always a newness, a surprise, a vivid ALIVENESS … many millions of unknown magical mystery variables … in every thing, in every place, in every time.
And in all those unknowns lie secret, hidden possibilities and outcomes and specificities and trajectories and maybes and probablies and synchronicities we dream not of!
There is so much of the newness and distinctness — the excitement! The meaningfulness! The possibility! — for which we long and which we seek, living in every moment.
If only we let ourselves admit we don’t always (ever? lol) know where “it” is; we just know that it is. We know newness and magic and possibility and hope are there, somewhere, and we are willing to look for them(because we probably don’t know where they are.) When we come from this place of openness and curiousity and presence, we might just find life itself.
When we think we know what’s going to happen, and what it is going on, and allllll there is to know about the setting and place and the characters, nothing new to see here, nothing to look for, nothing magical and meaningful to find…. whether in our environment or in our life, we miss all the best parts, which are often parts we never expected. We miss the new miraculous magical surprises everwaiting to be found. We’re there for it, but we’re not there for it.
I’m here, I consciously felt tonight. I spun around on the springy just-hardened-from-mud soil and dug my hands deeper into my pockets. I caught a whiff of the feeling of the best nights, the most alive and freely gifted days, the most everlasting afternoons. In calling upon the most holy-fuck-this-is-actually-it moments of my life, I breathed my world as it is when I come alive and awake.
I look at the examples I included at the beginning of this article, the times and places I mentioned, moments that invoked the magical arrival of actually being here. now. Of this.is.it. THIS is Life Itself.
(If you’ve seen the movie Soul, which I highly recommend, it’s a moment like when the heart-shaped leaf spirals down onto Joe’s hand, and time slows and whirs to a stop there in the holy, everyday, evening-lit New York City street.
… as I examine the examples scenes I've given in this article, I note some common themes: movement of body, silence of open land under open sky, space for a spacious a sense of freedom — momental enormity vast enough to cradle the fullness of being.
In these moments — the essence of which is like the thread that pulls my life together — I’m fully taking in the moment, and letting it take
me. There’s nothing else to take in or be taken by. Not another step except this one, not another breath except this one.
More moments of embodiment like tonight, please.
Moments that grant permission to enter and inhabit where I am, fully.
Not because I’m completing some chore or covering some ground or getting from one place to another, but simply because, HERE. I AM.
I have been here so many times, and yet I’ve never been here before. In my own body.
Suddenly, I’m like a stranger in this familiar animal that is my body.
It’s delightful to feel the sensationalism of it all — how sensational all of life and my feeling and experience of it would seem to a total stranger, a total outsider, a foreigner, an alien to the human experience … it would seem absolutely fantastical and … magical. And so it IS.
The more we see things for what they are rather than for what we’ve been made to believe they must be or should be, the more it’s clear that life itself is magical and miraculous; life is the magic and life is the miracle.
This whole human experience thing is ridiculously magical and fantastical and unlikely and wacky and miraculous— we’re out here BREATHING AND BEING, LOVING AND LIVING, legit on a rock spinning through outer space and inner time.
Let’s not forget how crazy this all is, honestly.
We’re running around looking for something, anything, everything this was supposed to be or we were told it should be. And yet, what life has to give us is all, actually, quite literally, RIGHT HERE.
LIFE itself is waiting patiently, eternally — so simply obvious and embarrassingly frank and cringingly apparent as to be scoffed at, overlooked, ignored … LIFE itself is waiting wryly to be caught, noticed, acknowledged, kneeled to, keened over, come to stillness in the presence of, gazed upon — LIFE is waiting to finally have your head shaking and mouth open in sheer awe and stupid reverence of it.
Life is already giving us so much, everything, we have asked for.
We are, right now, living something we only dreamt of before.
Can you remember when something — anything — about your life now was just a far off dream, hope, fantasy, projection?
Allow yourself to inhabit the fullness of your setting now. You are HERE. You’re HERE.
Welcome back to the place you never left.