Look, I don’t want to belabor this story for too long; some of nature’s most quiet miracles occur in merely short moments and continue on without even a pause for admiration by the world’s mechanisms. So why wait around? Or rather, why wait more than needed? I will try to be brief, to walk back just enough for you to understand; as this story does take place with context and with history. It is the recalling, I suppose, that takes the longest to tell.
I am not a perfect person but I know I am a learner. As all difficult studies require, there is a certain patience and a much needed forgiveness to perpetuate a persistence in a life of learning. I recount this story quickly but, as you should know, not without years of headache and heartbreak, of growth in communication, ownership, and acceptance; it happens, but as you see every day, the sun rises and the world wants you to know this is its form of mercy.
Three years ago, I was returning to Tennessee after a summer in the high desert of New Mexico. That was the first time I cried upon leaving a place. It wasn’t for long living in Tennessee that I began to experience subtle moments that reminded me of some softer fondness of the desert. And it wasn’t long until those gentle reminders manifested into a persistent and inescapable haunting—even outside of the state, even outside of the states. Such as the summer in France, a supposed pilgrimage, where the haunting followed me. Then, I learned distance lead us nowhere when we are avoiding the very place and purpose that we are called to uphold. And after, the year in New York, a supposed return to family and believe in my direction, only taught me that our callings last for such a little while before moving on: transforming takes a bold risk and unyielding courage.
But during these three years of haunting, a very important moment christened its timeline. In Tennessee, I had found and sat with on an irregular occasion a sangha. It may have been the first time I sat, perhaps the second, but so quickly did I melt away from my body and into another world, or place, that my soul had been this whole time. I had a vision and in it were the ponderosa trees scattered as a fortified forest in a northern southwest desert, an illuminating-white spirit had taken shape of a person and dance between tree-to-tree. In my mind I knew this was me. So I asked for my soul back, I asked three times, and on the third attempt I was pulled awake from my vision and broke so suddenly into a violent cough.
For a few months after that vision I had a pause from the visiting hauntings. Not having learned my lesson, or rather not acting on my discovery, the hauntings came back. It was in May or June of last year, Western New York, on the trail of wild apples and goldenrod behind my grandfather’s farm where I received the transmission from my grandmother, whom I never knew, about the risk of choosing home:
“The risk,” she would say,
“of calling somewhere home.”
How home doesn’t require the brilliant views
that overlook the parts of ourselves,
the fantastical waterfalls, gorges, or the higher mountains.
Home doesn’t need to only call to our attention
the things that move — in or around us.
That home is where that imagination
after the stirring, the breeze, this one,
So surely I could have easily taken her advice as to mean, “just stay put and commit to something,” as my own mother had been quietly insinuating in that time. I had a job that interested me, paid the bills, someone I was dating, a community of friends, but I didn’t have a place to live. This is not to say I didn’t have a home, something formed not found, but the universe didn’t intend on me living here in New York, “at least not right now,” I told myself. So much of what that transmission taught me was this: the imagination can be dangerous and unwavering at times especially for some eager and ambitiously learner, such as myself. But the imagination is also guided by some cosmically-connected intention, guiding us through what we know and don’t know, and asking us to trust and follow with our plan–and sometimes commitment can look like this: unsettled and moving but not any less devoted to our intentions. Where my imagination settled, as my grandmother share with me, is the very place I was intended to be next.
` . . .
The details in between that time, well, they are so important too, but you know enough now to know that every day I was experiencing a strong push to go back to the Southwest United States, and specifically New Mexico. I did cut my commitments carefully from Western New York. I did leave slowly. Of course, there was repercussion and natural consequence, but the choice was all too serendipitous once I had made it. .
The details are wonderous, but I cannot digress now. The details of my life are not the point of the story and are merely events that work in an unnatural linear fashion. I still believe so much of learning is not linear. That is, we enter a different school, a different life lesson, at different times of our life. And sometimes it is not acknowledged, sometimes it is merely an agreement and the work continues on. For myself, I had chosen a trail to hike on; it was something close by, some trail I knew little about, something so randomly chosen. I drove for an hour and hiked for maybe twice that until the trail ended at a frozen water crossing. I didn’t linger long at the bottom, but was captivated by this remarkable sense of familiarity. There and before me were the scattered ponderosa trees, high and towering as a fortified forest. I had arrived to where I was needed, I had arrived at my very vision.
As for you, well, you could believe it or not—don’t most ponderosa forests share some resemblance? I try not to argue too much as the power of intuition is this: you will know when you know. When the soul knows, it departs so that we must follow it—a risk indeed. Unknowing and unsure and only to wonder why to come here—and must trust it, the soul knows what the mind has been merely guessing, for me mostly doubting. I can be certain that I am living here for now. I cannot be certain that I will live in New Mexico for a long while, but to arrive here, at this very forest, well, the world and its quiet miracles did not choose to stop to congratulate me. Nothing else happened either. This is what I mean by the quiet miracles of nature: the world merely agrees and like all creatures of flight and of love kept on and kept at its very promise and duty to life.