Hitching out of Ashland, I caught a ride with barefoot white-haired long white-bearded California Jim who passed me a tupperware container of fresh blueberries he’d just picked and drove me down into California into Shasta City. I sat outside at a stone table in the presence of the mountain for hours. I didn’t feel as solid as Mount Shasta but I did feel rooted. I’ve been feeling rooted. My roots are not buried in place; I’m rooted in my worldview, my being in touch with what I feel, my ability to connect with people, my journey itself. Travel has helped me grow these kind of roots, yet what role does travel actually play anymore? The profound is not found in going to all sorts of new places but rather in seeing the places with open eyes. Not in convincing people to let me into their cars but in the open hearted honest conversations that unfold. None of this has anything to do with traveling.
When dusk began to fall I walked down the railroad tracks that cut through town and found a pine clearing beneath huge gnarled redwoods; chilled with some PCT thru-hikers and then set up camp when they left. Lay out my bag on the soft ground, it was so comfortable and warm, and the moonlight fell through the redwoods into the clearing and the sun was gone, black hillcrest contour against sharp dark blue sky, I was mindful and breathed as deeply as I knew how and it was sacred to be alone, but also I wanted someone to share this with, not just this but everything, my entire life, all that will happen but especially all that has already happened. I want someone to know me. But even the chunks and fragments of life that have been shared, even those long nights we said we’d never forget, the sunrises and the best cups of coffee, the swimming pool sleepover parties and balloons and the first time you ever tried cotton candy and it melted and dissolved instantaneously and you immediately craved more and were temporarily addicted to this sweet crystal non-substance and everything else awesome and horrible in your whole life, hasn’t it all been more or less forgotten, you could remember a moment if you wanted to but how many times will you ever actually do that for any particular one? And the people you grew up with, the lovers you’ve held, the friends you’ve entrusted with precious secrets, haven’t you fallen out of touch with most or all of them? Nobody knows what you’ve been through, you can tell stories but they’re just that, and nobody will ever know the whole journey of how you became what you are. And I was just thinking about that as the moon quivered through evergreen over the darkening ridge, and the trees were so tall and strong and the moonlight so pale and steady and really the only thing I know is that I AM going to die, and this moment too will not be remembered. There is nothing I can do or keep or share or make that will actually persist, and the gravity of my impermanence sank in all over again, and I just let my chest seize up with the full weight of that truth. I touched the strong thick trunk and my tears fell on redwood roots and soaked into the earth, into the roots, and now a small part of me is in that tree, my body already beginning to nourish the world