I threaded my way up the mountain following a wild burro path. I usually made this hike at mid-day. Today I started with Teak at 5:00 p.m. to catch the sinking sun…or so I thought. The dusty foot-wide trail was a Rorschach design of petite round hoof prints. It scraped the craggy mountain contour and dipped into a mesquite-lined wash before it steepened and delivered me atop a pass and a view of sunset-layered mountains of mauve.
I paused to take in the grandeur; breathe the fusion of me and planet. Then, as if she’d planned it from the get-go, my mind set to chatter. “Just what are you doing here, Christina?” “What’s the need for one more human on this planet?” “Are you living some big lie of self-importance?” ya di ya di on and on, it would not be silenced. My eyes filled with tears as I took a seat on a not-so-comfy rock. The brain may have been intent on reckoning, but my angels weren’t going to let me start down this slippery slope with blurred vision; a metaphor not lost. What began as a few drops of salt turned into full blown sobs; a release of potent pain as my mind jumped like a pinball from ancient turtles in acid seas to dead honeybees. Then...a distant sound. I stopped my breath and fixed my ears as a howl-screech-moan tore twilight’s silent veil. It was unmistakably a coyote; but in myriad song dog encounters I had never heard one sound like this. She was...crying. She stopped. I resumed. She let loose with another pained yowl and I stopped. Our cries took turns as darkness fell. Then as if on cue we ceased our soliloquies of cleanse.
Descents are especially suited to winter, the season of delving and diving deep; when a moment of bliss climaxes into a tsunami of pain with an overwhelming sensitivity to the plight of all alive. A potent mix of responsibility and hopelessness. Oft times it occurs when I drum, no matter the season. Not surprising, since the drum is the same vibrational frequency of the earth.
My return to hope has many means---a glass of brandy at fireside, a stranger’s smile, a well-timed phone call from a girlfriend or, this time, a mind-boggling duet with coyote. I rose from that sharp boulder with night vision clarity towards the work to be done. One step at a time. Witness and write.