Where and when do memories live? What is the fabric where they are woven? What is the invisible medium, the field of energy that we sense in our thoughts and in our dreams? I spent quite a long time thinking of a car ride that I made half a life ago. I could not remember my destination, only the place from which I departed.
It feels now like a very significant car ride in my life. I had wrapped up all the loose ends of my twenties, broken ties, moved away from friends and lovers, and every item I could call my own was packed and fitting neatly in my very first car, my red Honda Prelude. I remember that the fires of Oakland were in the news as I departed the Permaculture Farm where I had completed my internship in Colorado. I remember driving across the Mesas of New Mexico, perhaps after a long overdue stop in Albuquerque to visit my two best friends from high school who had married each other after college. I memorized the Greatest Hits of the Grateful Dead under that beautiful open desert sky, changing colors from endless azure to orange fire at sunset, then cooling to purple before resting on midnight blue. There was no one waiting for me. There was no one who knew when I might be arriving, nor expecting a call if I might be late. There was no one who would notice if I made an unscheduled stop along the way, which I did. No one, not even me, thought of it as a delay.
I rested in bed this morning looking up at the ceiling and wondered for a long time where I might have slept on the night after that memorable drive in 1991. I conclude it must have been at my father’s house in Las Vegas. Eleven years of a rocky relationship since my parents divorce was now water under the bridge, or maybe better, it was Just A Box of Rain. I was ready to heal it, splintered though it might be.
Walk into splintered sunlight Inch your way through dead dreams to another land Maybe you're tired and broken Your tongue is twisted with words half spoken And thoughts unclear What do you want me to do To do for you to see you through A box of rain will ease the pain And love will see you through Just a box of rain Wind and water Believe it if you need it If you don't, just pass it on Sun and shower Wind and rain In and out the window like a moth before a flame
I had days to listen to my collection of a dozen cassette tapes, over and over as I drove. Alone with myself, the music, the desert and the sky, I had great hopes for my future life, despite the wounding years of tears and tragedies.
At the beginning of a new chapter for me, I had purchased my first video camera, intending to record my father and some family history before it was too late. My mother had already passed, not there to guide me on the journey of young adulthood. My father had been a missing person in my life since the divorce. This slow torture had defined my high school and college years, sharpening my temper and instilling a self righteous attitude that I now can see was perhaps founded on self pity. I never thought of myself as a member of the victim, rescuer, persecutor triad, but looking back, this may well be the unloved and disowned aspects of myself that struggled to remain optimistic on that journey. The resilience of my spirit, then and now, I attribute to having had enough love to last a lifetime. I give credit to the love in my ancient memories, from the childhood years before our family fell apart. Life with my sisters and cousins was always full of good will and acceptance, whatever else might have been lacking. Despite disappointments, false starts, abandonments, and rejections on the more recent journey, on the whole, my sense of being loving and lovable was always intact.
Then, as now, I see myself as a time traveller. I consult psychics who confirm what I believe, that I have spent many human lifetimes as a soldier, saint, and monk, or at least, a devotee of goodness. So often a man, but also many lives have been spent as a mother, a harlot, or a nun. I have been royal, and I have been a hobo. I recognize in me the memories of a rainbow warrior, a thread haired healer, a bard, a druid, and a wench. I have ruled over slaves, and been murdered while black, escaping with my beloved to a freedom we never attained. I have known murderers who valued my loyalty, and I have kept quiet to keep others safe. I have had thumbs and limbs severed and survived. My spirit has memories of false gurus who sent me on perilous journeys to cultivate the art of skillful means. I have known countless riches, and despicable poverty, living on the offerings made to departed relatives in ashen cemeteries while hiding my life among the dead. I have even consulted spirits resting in peace under fields of flowers who reminded me that the answers I seek can be found in the world of the living. All of these stories are written in my soul, and they educate me in dreams when some aspect of my current life finds a resonance with the deeply buried revelation. Such dreams were revisited and reforgotten by me on that long drive through the Enchanted desert.
As I drove forward into the desert, armored and scarred by some still fresh battles, my guiding beliefs in the goodness of myself and the world were busy defending me when I encountered times of struggle. I notice in the current time how scattered my young identity seems upon review, and I take note of the absence of clear memories. I must deduce and reconstruct from fragments. To be sure, time has been kind to me, so I consider it possible that I mostly only keep the memories which leave me whole and satisfied. I live by credos such as “Trust the perfection. Change anything, change everything.” These survival skills are still helping me as I navigate the surrenders, disappointments, and self criticisms that are starting to creep into my awareness as I approach old age, nearing the autumn of my life. I value very much what I learned along the way, and leave behind the stories that no longer serve me.
I did stop for gas at an Indian Reservation. I remember that now because there were memorable consequences, although at the time I suspected nothing unusual. I filled the tank from a dusty ancient gas pump and paid for the fillup with cash at the souvenir store. One day a few weeks later, I learned that there was water in my gas tank which caused my car to stall. I had a habit of playing a game with my gas fill ups, pushing the car to the last gallon and predicting what the mileage meter would read upon arrival at the pump. I marvel now that I did not consider the consequences of running out of gas. On the day when I found out, the last fumes in the tank were burned away on the freeway a bit shy of my expectations. The car just sputtered and then stopped about five miles from the nearest gas stop. I don’t remember how I got the extra gallon of gas to my car, probably some kind passersby who gave me a lift? I don’t remember being in danger, just filling the tank from a little red one gallon container. At some point, I learned from a mechanic that I needed to buy something called gas treatment to evaporate the water in my tank. That is when the story occurred to me that the Indian Reservation gas was cut with some water. Not sure if its true, upon further review. Maybe condensation from my months in the Colorado winter, somehow melting into my tank in the heat of the vast desert. I can’t be sure. Weeks had gone by, but the brush with isolated dangers on the road left no lasting scars. In fact, my journey gave me many opportunities to believe that I had both very reliable intuition for avoidance of danger, plus a little help from my angels when all else failed.
Along the journey, I felt too sleepy to keep driving. So I pulled into a rest stop to get a power nap in my car. For no good reason, after maybe a couple of minutes of much needed surrender, I bolted awake, full of adrenaline. “Drive away NOW” came an urgent demand from my subconscious. As if escaping from a bank robbery, I started the car and carried on my journey, no more in need of a nap. I have often looked back on this unverified moment of danger as confirmation that a loving force looks out for me. The same unspoken warning system once woke me out of bed in the middle of the night. I wandered into the living room, and took a fond look at the embers of the fire which had been crackling when I went to bed. Within a minute of my somnambulance, a log rolled off its perch from the grate in the fireplace, and landed on the carpeted floor, embers and sparks scattering on impact. I can only imagine what might have been the consequences had I not been called from my dreams to witness the fire spirit lurking during my dreamtime hours.
Returning again to the long desert ride of my life, between chapters and homes, I remember seeing dawn on that drive. In the heat of the day, I noticed an isolated modern building in the middle of the Arizona desert. The gas station food in the car seemed unappealing, and I wondered if there might be a place to eat in the sand colored building. Turns out, no, but I do love museums, so I took a break from the drive. After looking over some artifacts and native American history exhibits, I did some shopping at the gift store. I have always loved the Zuni and Navaho arts of inlaid turquoise and red coral. I purchased several souvenirs which I thought might be gifts for someone I love, an imaginary friend or relative at the time. I now find them lost and forgotten in an old jewelry box among many items that I recently packed away, things that no longer fit and can be given away to strangers.
What remains a dear artifact from that trip is a work of art which I purchased, a sand painting laden with medicine prayers, so the label claimed. It hangs now above my fireplace, still protecting me I hope.
Inspired by this revery, I take the sand painting from the wall. I see that on the back is a signature from Sun Eagle Begois pencilled on the back. Also, a faded note is taped with blue masking tape neatly at the corners, cut from an old fashioned mimeo copy maker, from the days before Xerox machines. I will try to transcribe the almost invisible blue ink which remains.
SUN AND EAGLE, Navajo religious sand painting of the sacred symbol of the Sun. The Sun looks four ways to enrich ones health and strength. The feather repeats the 4 directions and 4 seasons. The Navajo use the sand painting as a ceremony for healing of the sick patient.
With respect and reverence, I always love this sand painting, and I imagine the protective healing ceremony was created for me by the unknowing artist, perhaps a soul relative, or just a friendly stranger and fellow traveller on the Blessing Way. This treasure is one enduring piece of my memory, preserved as a work of art I have collected. It is from an In Between time in my life, a solitary journey I once made that lives in my memories somewhere after I received the name SUN, and before I knew my happiest future, a lifetime of golden light spent with my dear phoenix dragon eagle, the kind gentleman to whom I am now very happily married.
On that extraordinary yet so ordinary journey, that story from so long ago, now just a fragment among so many of my scattered memories, I, the living witness, remain. Or rather, if not I, then at least, the memory has returned from the invisible realms where they live, and now can be shared with YOU my friend, as THIS story, etched in mystery, and fortunately, recorded in time, before it was too late.