On Getting Lost

We arrived at Wilbur Hot Springs two hours later than planned. Well, three actually, if you count the postponed departure. But seeing that it was just the two of us and we were looking forward to a leisurely drive up north, the freedom to leave at will overrode the aspiration for timeliness.

The delay occurred en route and traffic was not the culprit. After we crossed the midpoint, we had a changing of guards and Wesley took the driver seat in preparation for the final stretch. But we missed the turn off. I say ‘we’ because I assume partial responsibility (but not half because that would be ridiculous. Just some). I instantly relieved myself the chore of navigation as soon as I become passenger, but I might have noticed the exit naturally had I not been enraptured by the view. So we missed the turn.

The landscape lulled me into dreams of prairie life and the good work of farming. I was entranced by the lush surroundings and hypnotized by the subtle dance of the mountain range as we drove past. But the frame of it all is what grabbed my attention—a sky hung low and illuminated by the persistent afternoon sun determined to find its way through and to the earth. Beauty, however, was only part of the distraction. The real distraction was much more concrete—a phone call from work about some tedious issue requiring immediate attention, the Internet, and official forms. Wesley took the call and did an impressive job of navigating a challenging conversation while remaining focused on the road. But he was clearly upset. The call was a reminder of how hard it was to ever have a real day off and immediately placed his attention on the minutia—the very thing we were trying to escape. He was frustrated and disappointed. And then the problem, like any good joke, magnified. We were out of range and way off track, literally and figuratively. None of the work that needed to get done could be done if we didn’t double back again and return in the opposite direction. Any desire for rest was gone, gone, gone. We had travelled an hour out of the way already for a trip that should have taken two and a half hours, tops. Suddenly the gorgeous landscape with its sultry curves was mocking us. Oh, look—a lavender field of wildflowers stretched out towards the sun. Go screw yourself. But look! There! A geyser just ahead is erupting! Must be nice to have only one thing to do all day long. I was trying to calculate who exactly was to blame (although the question was clearly rigged). Wesley was silent in his own funk except for the occasional curse or grunt, which came easily.

Needless to say, we arrived at Wilbur annoyed and fed up with the detritus of our life, hardly open to relaxation of any kind and more aware of the stench than the springs flowing up from the ground. Within seconds, what once was paradise quickly eroded to the gates of hell. How was that possible? What had changed? And I realized I had been here before. This was a familiar dual, an inner battle between mind and body—between the relative and the infinite. Could relaxation absorb the negative juju that was festering within, or would anguish win?

I’ll bet you’ve experienced something like this where all was good until it wasn’t... when all that was good and fresh and whole is now sour milk and rotten tomatoes. It’s because we live a double life. Sometimes we lead with the head. Sometimes we lead with the body. But rarely both. Is it possible to marry the two parts—mind and body—and ultimately dissolve the leader? To be so connected that no matter which part of ourselves leads or follows, it’s always in service to the highest self? It’s a good question for me to consider, mainly because I don’t think, practically speaking, that I’ll ever stop the everyday defilement of paradise to hell. What I can do is recognize the shift and remember this: If the landscape has changed, if what was good is now bad, stop, re-route, or at the very least, switch drivers. 

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