I sometimes imagine that my soul is another person who is separated from my body by an extremely thin, but ridiculously strong piece of porous glass. As I walk along on one side, my soul mirrors me on the other and mimics all of my actions. When I find the presence of mind to slow down enough to listen and feel for it, my soul presses its palms and forehead onto the glass, willing me to press my own against the glass too, so it can seep a little bit of itself back into me and re-establish our connection.
Sometimes when I least expect it, I crash headlong into that unbreakable glass and collide with my soul again, knocking us both on our collective asses.
Good thing there is more padding than usual on my ass right now because I ran into my soul so hard last Sunday that I must have bounced half way across the universe before I landed on it. It’s amazing what can happen when I go adventuring with a beautiful friend at my side, my camera on my hip and a smile in my heart.
I saw some areas of BC I’ve never seen before – Echo Lake, the scenery on the way to Cherryville, tiny little lakes here and there on the way- and I grabbed shots of some of them and couldn’t believe I’d never seen such hidden gems before. With each passing click of the odometer and each pristine lake we passed, I felt my stress level dropping and the dim awareness of the image in my soul mirror becoming sharper and beckoning me to come closer.
Somewhere along my life path, despite skydiving many times, I have developed a borderline phobia of heights. I have no idea where it came from because when I was younger, I would climb the tallest towers and trees I could find and I would dangle myself off branches over canyons and the like without so much as batting an eye. My friend Susie and I used to go to this place we called the Swinging Tree – a giant tree hanging over a steep gully where her brothers had tied a thick rope to the trunk. We would grab onto the rope and run as fast as we could off one side of the drop off and swing out and over it all the way to the other side. It was ridiculously dangerous and probably not the smartest extra curricular activity for a couple eight year-old girls, but it was SO FUN! The drop in the middle was probably around 50 or 60 feet to the bottom, but it didn’t even phase me as I was swinging out over the gully and hooting with delight. These days, if I get within 10 feet of a cliff edge, my knees soften, my heart rate spikes and I can hear the blood rushing in my ears. It makes me feel as though I will soon pass out, so I steer clear of anything high and just chock it up to something I can’t explain.
That is, until recently, when I decided that after dying for awhile, being afraid of something- anything really – is fucking ridiculous and I needed to start dealing with it. Who knows, someday I may have to climb something high to save a life and I’d hate to be paralyzed by fear with a life hanging in the balance. And so I’ve been adventuring in high places and trying to figure out how to get over the irrational fear they instil in me.
So there I was, standing on the top of Mt. Scaia and looking over the edge of a fairly high cliff. The old familiar feeling of weak knees and speedy pulse rate was in full force and I was about to just back up and head out into the flatter parts and rolling hills of the alpine-a safer and easier place to be. I stood there, taking deep breaths and willing my body to calm down and I sat down and closed my eyes and just listened to the world around me…and was met with pure silence.
No vehicle sounds. No animal sounds. No wind. No talking. No hustle and bustle of people in populated areas. Silence.
It was so unexpected and, well, HUGE, that it immediately penetrated all of me. I felt as though a warm and sure hand was washing me clean with a giant wet wipe. Cleaning out all the toxic crap that builds up when I don’t take time to listen to my inner happy being.
I stood up, walked to the rocks by the cliff edge and sat down. My heartbeat was calm again, my knees weren’t shaking anymore, my mind was focused and absolute. I picked up my camera and started shooting the vast expanse of mountains stretching out before me. I even shot the cliff below me, so I could remember how easy it felt to be there. It wasn’t entirely a cake walk, but it was the most calm I’d been at any height in many years. And as I sat there, shooting scenery and feeling everything inside me return to stillness, I realized just how out of touch with myself I have been lately. Springing to mind was the image of my soul and me running headlong into that ever-present window and sharing our light with explosive, freight train-like force.
And as I sat there, smiling, breathing, feeling so full of all-knowing emptiness, I knew that I wouldn’t have my fear of heights much longer and that something had changed inside me, yet again.
I love moments like this-sitting on top of a mountain in the sunshine, just breathing in the silence and stillness. They are so simple and seemingly insignificant on the outside, but so deeply profound within.
My friend said last night that the alpine = good medicine, but more than that, so is taking time to unplug, breathe, and appreciate the beauty around and within us. So is making the effort to listen to ourselves, to connect with our souls and stay grounded, clean of toxic energy and capable of dealing with anything life throws at us.