There’s a glade on Hampstead Heath, known among my close friends as the Forest Of Dude, named so by Anton Grum, himself a dude – I recall it all originated back in the early '90s with a Wayward Taoist, North London slant on the Bill and Ted theme. We meet there to do t’ai chi and other martial arts and generally sit around on logs shooting the sherbet and passing the time of day beneath the leafy canopy. We’ve got the signal down to the word, ‘dude’ sent as an SMS, meaning if you’re up for it, see you in the forest in 20 minutes or so.
So there we were, Anton and I – we were challenging our respective motor skills by doing the mirror image of the t’ai chi long form and then flipping it back the right way round a few times, till neither of us knew which way was north anymore, practice lightly interspersed with moments of in-depth reflections on the human condition, when through the undergrowth, suddenly charged E, The Third Brother, who was out for a run and had picked up the dude signal on his phone, whereupon we sat on logs and fell into discussing the notion of integrity in relation to healing and therapy. Anton crouched down on the forest floor and busied himself building a mini-Stonehenge out of fallen tree bark. I mentioned how I’d been dwelling a fair bit on the idea of time and how it provides the medium in which things manifest – pretty obvious stuff when you think about it, yet deeper contemplation on it is a viable doorway to the transcendent state. E was saying how as a teenager, he’d told someone once his dream was to be living in San Francisco and find himself driving a sports car along Highway 1, the main coastal road running north-south, with a beautiful girl by his side and how only last year, he’d found himself doing just that – he’d been living with his beautiful wife of 15 years in San Francisco doing some big-up job in artificial intelligence for five years then, and they were taking a drive down to Big Sur in their shiny Porsche. Funny, he said, how you see it in your mind and a few years down the line, without apparent plan or forethought, there is was happening. And you were still just as miserable, chipped in Anton wryly, having now more or less completed Stonehenge and was just laying a yin-yang pattern out in its centre with some twigs, at which we all cracked up for what seemed like five minutes. That’s yin-yang, by the way – the mention of misery as intrinsic to the human condition, rousing such intense mirth. That just about says it all, said I, by way of resolution. Just about, said E and off we all went our separate ways, each into the next chapter of his own path through the unfathomable mystery of life, treading step by step along the knife’s edge between the extremes of primordial terror and bliss.
This constituted a formative part of my long weekend dedicated to vision questing. Much t’ai chi, much breathing, much contemplating, much speaking, much looking, much smiling, much explosion of thought, much implosion of thought, much laughing and much trembling in my boots in the face of the unknown, as you do.
Talking of boots, I have to pull my straps up a bit this week and get cracking on a multitude of projects, as I’ve tended to be a bit indulgent with myself part of the summer, on account of needing to catch up with myself, which I’ve more or less done now, at least enough to start moving forth with the requisite degree of unification of mind, body and soul for the next phase of the adventure, whatever that might turn out to be, though I do have a good hunch about it, I must say.
Does it feel like that for you too? Are you feeling optimistic in your bones, perhaps with a modicum of trepidation but optimistic nonetheless? I wish you that – I wish you that warming sensation in the heart provided only by the exhilaration of spontaneously seeing your prospects in a positive light and, along with that, a veritable explosion of beautiful surprises in your life.
See it. Hear it. Smell it. Taste it. Feel it. Know it. Love it. It’s yours.