Before our flight from New Zealand to the USA, we spent a few nights in Auckland.
We walked the length of the city, about fifteen kilometers daily, practicing for our upcoming pilgrimage by foot.
We ate delicious Malaysian food at ‘Selera’ in Newmarket (try their best ever vegetable Laksa and the King Prawns encrusted with dry oats).
We enjoyed Gujarati delicacies on K road in a newly opened vegetarian restaurant, drank fresh juices at ‘Tank,’ and had delicious Japanese food at ‘Genta’ on Commerce Street in Britomart.
We went to a matinée at the Rialto Cinema in Newmarket.
In the movie, “The Big Short,” about the fraudulent subprime loans that led to the 2008 housing market crash, an aerial camera hovered over the landscape of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado before it centered on and descended into Boulder.
I felt choked with emotions….. The tall snowy mountains…. The sharp jagged peaks… The open vistas… The rivers shimmering in greens and blues curving through the landscape…… Herds of running deer, Buffaloes, horses…. soaring Eagles…..home…..my home….
It has been five months since we’ve been at our home in Colorado, and it feels like forever….it feels like we are returning as different people…..changed by all the experiences that we have had in the past five months….
My emotions surprised me…after all, I love the Hokianga in NZ, feel very much at home there, and hope to keep on living there, so what was this all about?….
Flying during wintertime often involves long delays and missed flight connections.
We were delayed in Auckland, but they were able to book us on a later flight from San Francisco to Denver.
The flight from San Francisco to Denver was also delayed, but we made it to Denver by dinnertime.
We spent a few days in Boulder and Denver.
We decided to stay over before driving up into the mountains, because we wanted to look for gear that we might need for our long upcoming foot pilgrimage in Japan.
We made a list of things that we might need for the trip.
Denver and Boulder are both outdoor ‘Meccas’ for adventure seekers, with so many gear shops and so many knowledgable people.
Ahaa…. this is why Colorado feels so much like home to me.
It is not about my beautiful house, not about walls, nor is it about the glorious mountains; it is about the people.
People who believe in themselves to such an extent, that they are powerful in bodies, minds and spirit.
People that inspire me, leave me in awe, and often uplift my spirit.
While many people we have met so far have said that we were crazy to walk for months in search of enlightenment, in Boulder and Denver people encouragingly said:
“Oh so cool! My buddy did this three years ago.”
“My mom just returned from walking a similar trail, it was incredibly tough but amazingly rewarding.”
“My sister did something like this, but she did it as a ‘speed ascent’, meaning that she ran most of the trail instead of walking it.”
The strength and determination of people in this region is so admirable as to border on the totally unbelievable.
I once heard about a guy who was an award winning cyclist from Vermont who moved to Vail.
He said that it was so humbling to discover that he wasn’t even in the top thirty of the legions of strong cyclists in the Vail area.
In Vail this week, there was a lecture by a young woman named Jessica Martin who became, between July and October of 2015, the first woman to summit and descend all of the 14ers in Colorado with a mountain bike.
That means 14 ascents of mountains of 14,000 feet or more!!!! with a mountain bike on her back, and 14 trips down.
Climbing to the summits of these tall Rocky Mountains is a major achievement by itself, yet she did it with a mountain bike strapped to her back, and, for at least half of the climbs, by herself with no company.
I am adding a link at the end of this post to her amazing story, with a few photos of her with the bike on her back.
Our bodies and minds are capable of so much more than the little that we ask of them.
What most people consider to be a ‘normal’ level of activity is just the tip of the iceberg of the level of energy and vitality that are available to us.
Most people are happy if their bodies can carry them through the hours of each day with enough energy to do their work and chores, without feeling fatigued.
Other people are happy if their bodies do not break down or get sick frequently, or give them too many pains.
The truth is that the body will comply with whatever level of expectations you hold in your mind.
If you treat it kindly and with love, if you do not criticize it too harshly when you face yourself in the mirror, and if you encourage yourself and expect your body to be energetic and strong, it will do all that for you.
Spiritual masters remind us that:
“You are NOT really capable of feeling tired, but you are VERY capable of making yourself weary all the time.”
How do you make yourself weary and fatigued?
By the misuse of your holy mind.
By your judgements,
By your thoughts about your mortality,
By your fears and beliefs in sickness, in limitations and in death,
By believing that you are separate from the very Spirit of LIFE that is within you.
The strain of constant judgment is very wearying and fatiguing.
Your moods, your anger, cynicism and all the shapes that fear can take, drain you emotionally and deplete your energy levels.
When we calm our emotions and allow our minds to be quiet, we can listen to the Divine Wisdom WITHIN.
If you view your mind and body as frail and fragile, it will become so for you.
Your mind is holy and divine.
It is not separated from the Universal mind.
The Universal mind is all knowing, all powerful and it is everywhere.
Access to this enormous library of all wisdom, past present and future, is never restricted to you.
You have full access to it and you are entitled to so much more than you claim from life.
In other words, you do NOT ask for too much of life, but far too little.
As long as your mind dwells in lower vibrational frequencies, obsessing about goals that will never really give you what you truly want, you will not become aware of this Oceanic Mind and your connection to it.
Most people use only a slight portion of their minds in daily life, dumbing themselves down by negative messages and low expectations.
I have a childhood memory of my Dad, who was a very good chess player.
He used to read chess books with such joy, I often saw him laughing and mumbling commentaries to himself.
I remember once asking him what he was laughing about, and he said that it was obvious to him from the third move, that the player in white had made a fatal rookie mistake that would soon cause him to lose the game.
I peeked over his shoulder into the book and saw nothing but numbers and letters in what seemed to me to be an incomprehensible code.
I looked at my dad, marveling at how could he produce so much inner joy and happiness from simply looking at some letters and numbers like: e5 d7 a3, or bishop to ac4.
I remember that he used to train before important chess matches.
Beside reading books about famous games and memorizing endless moves, he used to “read” the yellow pages and the white pages.
I once asked him what he was doing.
He said he was exercising his mind.
I must have looked skeptical, because he said that he would demonstrate it to me.
He studied the white pages some more, and after about ten minutes, he handed me the thick book and said:
“Choose any family name from page one to page thirty and tell me the name you chose, and I will give you their phone number from memory.”
I chose a random family name, and to my amazement, he gave me their correct phone number.
Full of admiration, I had him demonstrate the capacity of his mind again and again and he was correct nearly all the time.
I am not suggesting that we must learn to ‘exercise our minds’ the way my father did, but that we allow our human intelligence to be transmuted into Divine Intelligence.
It is within our birthrights to tap into the Universal, the all knowing mind.
Eternal Bliss and a realm of pure Love, Light and endless potentiality, is right WITHIN YOU.
All the mistaken ideas of sin, discord, sickness, old age, and death exist only in the minds of mortal man, who thinks he is a body and who is lost in the mist of illusions.
In Denver and Boulder we ate fantastic, healthy food at a fraction of the price that it cost in NZ, and we enjoyed the alternative culture.
Instead of t-shirts saying: “Please Help Keep Denver Clean!” I saw people wearing t-shirts saying: “Please Help Keep Boulder Weird!”
In the ‘True Foods’ restaurant, which is owned by Dr. Andrew Weil, I started a conversation with a couple who each wore the Barefoot Vibram Five Finger Trail Running shoes that I wanted to buy for the pilgrimage.
As if I were their long time friend, I joined their table uninvited and asked them for details about the shoes they were wearing, and if they liked hiking in them.
I asked them how they felt when they wore the shoes all day long, and whether they thought that I could do the pilgrimage wearing those barefoot five finger Vibrams.
They were more than happy to indulge me, and suggested that I build up my leg muscles slowly and alternate between the barefoot Vibrams and a lightweight trail running shoe.
They also recommended the best kind of sock to go with the shoe.
We visited the Apple Store in Boulder, and bought two mini iPads for the trip.
Carrying full size iPads in our small backpacks was out of the question.
We also compared and tried on many different backpacks.
We wanted a really light and airy backpack with very good back support and a waist band, which we could carry on our backs all day long for three months.
After a few days of comparative shopping, we felt that we had singlehandedly boosted the US economy enough to reverse the downtrend in the stock market, and we finally drove into the mountains to our house.
When we stopped at the Whole Foods supermarket in Frisco, I expected to be cold.
The Breckenridge area is at very high altitude and is normally very cold, but I felt nothing but warmth.
The sun was so bright and the sky was so blue, the snow looked blindingly white and the quiet of the mountains runs so deep in my veins….
Could I ever give this place up to live anywhere else in the USA?….I do not think so…..
Despite our need to adjust to the difference in timezones, we headed to the slopes to ski after just a few days of unpacking and cleaning our house.
We spent two days skiing in Vail, stopping often to take in the marvelous vistas, and to breathe in the clean mountain air.
Skiing down white steep slopes…. Who ever came up wth this brilliant idea? It feels like flying…… Free, joyful, liberating….my spirit soars so high….
My mind became quiet except for the occasional reminder that I must not strain but glide… Glide like a bird on the air currents, instead of using too much leg muscle.
For me, skiing is about putting aside all body conscious fears and letting my body align with my spirit spontaneously… When this happens, I have full coordination between balance and movement…like a liberated spirit that is finally free to dance…
Jules turned to me and smiled:
“Not a bad place to live, hey?…. And not such a bad way to spend your days….skiing down beautiful mountains….”
I thought about my brothers and sisters in Syria, and about my brothers and sisters in Flint, Michigan who have not had clean drinking water since the day the city switched to using a polluted river…. And I remembered this old prayer:
“When man has finally learned that he is NOT A BODY WITH A MIND
Which is ruled either from within or without,
But that both mind and body can be made obedient servants
To his real SPIRITUAL SELF,
Then she can finally tap into that God-given,
All powerful dominion
With which she was originally endowed.
You were designed in perfect Spirit,
In the spirit of the ideal that you’ll be ever Young,
Enjoying perennial youth
And with hope and endeavor to achieve everything that serves your highest good.
The soul of man stands on the threshold of a new era,
More glorious than any other that has ever brightened the sky since Creation’s dawn.”
Keep hope in your heart always.
Do not let obstacles paralyze you, but jump over them like a graceful runner…..
Strive to achieve self-mastery in all aspects of your life…
And KNOW that you are blessed beyond measure….
A link to the story of Jessica Martin, who mountain biked all of the Colorado’s 14ers: