As the dwindling frequency of posts here might indicate, I've been putting my time and energy into other things than Ill Wind these past months. Been doing less writing and more living. I've begun a new phase of existence, a phase of committing whole hog to the path of healing (both being healed and helping to heal others; not that the two can be separated), paring down the inessential, and working hard to stand strong in that idiosyncratically human role that seeks to connect heaven and earth, subtle and gross, spirit and form. It's been an incredible ride so far, and it's just getting started. I can hardly believe the amount of work on the horizon, nor the magnitude of the blessings that have come my way thus far. That seems to be the deal: commit fully to service, get on the high road towards realizing your potential, lean into every fear, be healed in the process, never stop evolving, never stop working. Plenty of perks, plenty of growing pains. All things considered, it's a good deal.
I had the opportunity a couple of months ago to publish an article over at RealitySandwich.com on "Answering the Call: the Medicine of Destiny." In it I liken life to a quest within a quest. This is far from my idea; so many of our most beloved stories are based on the quest archetype and the idea of the unlikely hero. On the face of things, many of our lives fail to resemble epic stories. But each and every life contains the germ of such a story; far removed as we tend to be from our soul's purpose, the initial quest is to discover what our quest is.
In my experience, during this stage we don't know what it is we're looking for, but we know we're looking for something. Most of us have had times when there's an overwhelming, buoyant sense of being "hot on the trail." Synchronicity comes into play; we have remarkable dreams; something is going right. Even when we're "cold," the universe seems to conspire to let us know that we're barking up the wrong tree. Doors slam in our faces, relationships or jobs reach a dead-end. Time to explore another passageway in the maze of life.
I can trace "getting warm" inklings all the way back to early childhood, when I felt a deep yearning to understand the mysteries of the cosmos, black holes and the like. Along with this interest in cosmology, my mystical inclination were prefigured in an experience I had as a five-year old or so--I don't remember the dream, only that it was vivid and momentous, and that I woke up with the powerful sense that waking reality is no more ultimate or absolute than dream reality. My childhood, sheltered and idyllic, was an incubator for curiosity.
Adolescence tends to throw a wrench in the works of following one's guiding star, as we simultaneously confront our own and our peers' unconscious contents, our appetites and drives and neuroses. In my case, marijuana seemed to offer both a hazy haven and a link back to the wonders of childhood. In this sense it briefly served a purpose, encouraging a broad outlook and keen appreciation for beauty, but it quickly became a fixture of the identity I found myself needing to construct in high school. It stunted my emotional growth by allowing me to escape into its realm at will.
College brought my first real brush with the energy of focus, constriction, discipline represented by Saturn. Motivated to quit smoking pot largely by an exciting new relationship with a girl who was uncomfortable with my use of substances, I made my first personal sacrifice and stepped unwittingly onto the uphill path of transformation. The following years were characterized by an increasing sense of urgency to find my purpose and a succession of false starts--forays into agriculture and the restaurant industry. Looking back, each stage played a role in the path that was to unfold. At the time, I had the sense that something important was in the works, but I couldn't yet see what, exactly, or how, and certainly not when. I tried to connect the dots, but couldn't get a clear image to emerge, since too many of the dots were missing. Yet there were flashes of knowing, certain activities and interests that lit up my world. I knew these would somehow play a role in what I was supposed to do in the world: time spent in the woods identifying plants. Music, from the Beethoven my father loved and whose late sonatas I would still stumble through on the piano to the Nepali hand drum rhythms I brought back with me from my semester abroad. Concocting and brewing things in the kitchen. And I was strangely drawn to diverse religious traditions, especially those of the Southasian and Afro-Caribbean worlds. What could tie all these strands together? All I knew was that I needed to keep "following my weird," and that the path would surely lead somewhere. Eventually. Hopefully.
Through various detours and lessons, some of which life has had to be drill into me again and again, I can finally say that it has. The first stage of the quest has come to a close--I know enough now of what my purpose is to start getting to it, or at least allowing myself to be prepared in a much more focused way than before. Surveying the territory below and behind me, I can appreciate every detour, every morass, every tough patch of climbing. The path I took may not have been the most direct route to where I am, but it was the path I needed to take.
And now I stand gazing at the rugged and starkly beautiful landscape that stretches before me. Rows upon rows of high peaks. Thin air, the sound of the wind; a narrow rocky trail at my feet. High above, a raptor's screech pierces my reverie. Time to get moving.
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This will likely be the final post at Ill Wind. It's been a good run (this one makes 109 posts) and a remarkable five years. I plan on maintaining my medicine-focused site, RootsofNourishment.com, and to continue writing for other sites, including RealitySandwich.com and DeepestHealth.com. And I will continue to update the sourcebook page on this site as a kind of log of the books and ideas that have served pivotal roles for me as markers and sources of inspiration.
That's it. Fare thee well!