“It is sunny. We have to go out!” Ken declared.
Here in the Pacific NW we live close to ten months a year under low hanging clouds, drizzle, mists and rain. So it is really important for us to get outside when it clears up and is sunny. We all suffer from light deficiency here. We need any rays that we can get.
Today’s sunny day was of the wintery kind; cold and lucid. We blinked rapidly when we emerged from our home wearing our coats and gloves. We looked like creatures coming out from under a rock.
Holy holy mercy, what a beautiful day it was! The sky was impossibly blue, the evergreen trees were impossibly tall and green, and the neighborhood children seemed to all be out playing and laughing.
“Where are we going?” I asked after we had been driving for a spell. Ken and I take turns dragging the other out on adventures in nature and today it was clearly Ken’s turn. The Great Spirit was calling him and we were headed in “that” direction.
“The water,” was all Ken told me with a grin.
It started normally enough. We were soon parked and walking down a familiar and beloved path to a local beach along the Puget Sound. These beaches are more pebbly than sandy – with forested cliffs – and there are big boulders and huge driftwood logs.
Today the sky was vivid blue and the waters were one shade deeper blue with silver highlights. The islands across the waters were a shade darker blue yet and the sun seemed completely white. The brightness of the day was stunning us. We walked only a short distance up the beach, away from the other Pacific NW mole people. We plopped down and simply sun-soaked for a spell.
At the same moment Ken and I awakened again and the next thing I knew Ken was pointing at the pile of borders to the cliff above, informing me “I’ve always wanted to sit up there.”
I eyed the large rocks. They seemed eternal and solid and easy enough to climb and it did look like a grand view spot above, so I said, “Why not?”
Thankfully, I was almost to the top of the vertical rock pile before three very good and obvious reasons occurred to me why I should have said “No!” instead of “Why not?”. The first was that I am over 50 and not all that fit. This is not that great a reason; I could talk myself around from that argument. But the second big problem was that I was wearing easy to slip on and off winter clogs. This really became a problem when I gained a good foothold towards the top of our climb. I pulled myself up fine but when I went to make my next move, my foot came out of the shoe and the shoe stayed behind between the rocks.
So, I put my foot back into the clog and started trying to wiggle it free. Meanwhile, I was a bit spread eagled against the rocks.
That was when I discovered the third most important reason I should not have agreed to climb that cliff.
I looked down.
“HOLY COW!” I blurted out.
“You okay?” Ken inquired from above. He had reached our goal already. I explained about my clog and how I shouldn’t be climbing rocks in clogs and then I started babbling about how I don’t find cows particularly holy, not superior to pigs, or people, so I didn’t understand why I had said that….
“Just take your foot out of the clog and climb on up here. I will climb down behind you and get your shoe.”
He then jumped down behind me and whispered, “Don’t look down, you are fine,” and made sure that I scrambled to safety before retrieving my shoe.
“Holy Cow!” I said again when I reached our view-spot. We were so far up. I simply could not believe I had climbed that far!
“Amazing to be higher than the flying seagulls isn’t it?” Ken said.
We sat and sun-soaked some more and took in the view the best that we could. It was too beautiful to fully compute, of course, but we did our best to really witness the day.
“Ken, I am really scared to climb down this cliff in clogs.” I admitted when we finally got around to considering leaving that spot.
“No problem.” Ken assured me, “We can go up instead.”
I turned around and sure enough it wasn’t that much farther a climb to the top of the ridge. We scrambled on up and at the top we found railroad tracks.
“Kamalla, get back here!” Ken yelled and he grabbed me and pulled me away from the rails and back towards the cliff – a train! We were standing about 4 feet away from it as it thundered by, with a drop-off cliff a mere one foot behind us. The train was a long wall of metal and noise and fumes. It was pretty dramatic.
Ken loved it. You could just tell that he was feeling that the day was getting better and better!
But that was before we walked across the train trellis.
“I don’t know why the height bothers me so much more on this bridge.” Ken muttered.
“Maybe because we can see the endless void below our feet, between each railroad tie?” I offered.
I was busy doing Naam Jaap, calling on the Beloved One, with every step upon every crossbeam of that long bridge across the sky…. reminding myself that the heavy train had just crossed the structure without destroying itself…. waheguru, waheguru, waheguru…and deciding that it probably wasn’t my death day anyway…. waheguru, waheguru, waheguru,…but if it was…. waheguru, waheguru…well I was ready.
Using this method I was the first across the high trellis. On the other side I found a fairly easy trail back down the cliff to the beach far below and I took it before Ken could find any more adventures to lead me on.
Later, back home, chatting with my neighbors, listening to the news about my fellow human’s successes and current hardships, I understood suddenly that most people are seeking stability and ease and security and comfort in their lives, not adventures. Most people know where they are going when they get in their cars and start driving; and if they don’t know where to go, they quickly rush to decide.
I appreciated suddenly that Ken and I, in our different ways, coming from our contrasting backgrounds, let the Great Spirit decide where we are bound, moment-to-moment and day-to-day. We often end up in places we never imagined ending up in, and we take on challenges we never knew we were capable of.
But the view is worth it. The world-view is worth it.
Surrendering each day to exploring and being led by something bigger, truer, kinder and more mysterious than our puny ego structures, takes us all sorts of places that our fearful little selves wouldn’t dream of ever going. Like today, when the Beloved One, led us on an absolutely marvelous and memorable, sunny day adventure.