Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Sanctuary of Straw

A few evenings ago, I found myself in a location which I had never been before. You could live your whole life in a locale, and still find a place that has somehow escaped you. So much so that you need to integrate it into your internal mapping. This location was in an industrial area, mostly between a fairly steep mountain range and the warehouses along the streets. Along that area were once trains that carried goods to and from the manufacturing locations apparently. It may have been active at late as the 1950s. I was very familiar with that old railtrack system, but just not in this location which extended into some heavy wood and brush at the base of the mountain. The tracks were torn out about ten or fifteen years ago, and only a few heavy timbers alongside the trails are a reminder of what was once there.

Oddly, I had always seen one opening from the street where the tracks once crossed, but it was so overgrown that I never bothered with it. It was like a trail to nowhere, with a chain and reflectors in front of it. It was from a different entry point that I discovered this pathway though. At first it was twilight, and I stopped to take a water break in a parking lot. I noticed a trail in the distance, so I took a look. When I reached the opening to the trail behind a large warehouse, it was a sight to behold. Some lights from the industrial park illuminated the trail somewhat. The freshly cut dry grass of the trail seemed to almost glow in the darkness, and disappeared in the distance; into the trees, with the black mountain and the dark blue sky with a thin crescent moon in the backdrop.

As I looked at this almost too-good-to-be-true sight, somehow it occurred to me that my entire life was about "this place." Somehow everything made sense, and it grounded me. For some reason, ironically, I thought about what I have seen in myself and others in life; always searching for "something" along life's path. My mind was so clear that I was easily able to regress many interests and fads that I have had in my life. Some legitimate interests were never really explored, and had long disappeared among related and perhaps immature interests. Even before the information age, things just sort've came and went for a lot of people I think. Ultimately, especially for an obscure endeavor, it takes a person or people to breathe life into something to make it relevant. I think everyone has some regrets, and can think of some silly notions that they once held. Still, even in the maze of one's life--especially their youth--there are a few lost gems that can be brushed off and quickened.

I believe that you cannot force your mind to be this clear, even if you visit a special place. It will happen when it's ready to happen. The conflicts and troubles of the day usually prevent the mind from opening up. However, it does happen; and you should take advantage of it when it does. For some reason, this new sanctuary amid a location of which I was very familiar, somehow opened this door for me. You will know it because time will be compressed, meaning that something from long ago in your life will feel close. Time is suspended, and negativity is kept at bay. In other words, you can see the positive that existed; and the negative isn't allowed to get in the way of bringing it forward for reflection. That's what I experienced. Usually the mind blocks out negative periods in life, and it blocks out the interwoven positive aspects of them as well.

Needless to say, I was able to clearly see some old unique positive aspirations of mine which had long been buried in the darkness of some negative periods. I don't know if this place opened this doorway, and/or if some spirit guide led me there for some knowledge that I needed, or if it was all just mere chance? It is rather odd indeed that some positive endeavor in our lives--much like this pathway I found--can be lost in the dark corners our minds. When I say "dark," I mean the negative experiences that the mind blocks out; but is still in our memory. Not blocked out entirely, not the subconscious mind (although that can happen with trauma), but just enough of a block to repress it and the gems that may be within. It could be bad time periods, or just the common troubles of youth that the mind represses.

For some reason the city had the dry grasses and overgrowth cut along this trail, and the ground was very soft to the step, and looked like straw. It was so soft that you could comfortably roll around on it; and in a few parts you could practically sleep on it. Although there was no moonlight or urban cloudlight, the surrounding lights of the area were enough to illuminate the "straw" a bit. As I saw this glow-in-the-dark pathway disappear into the darkness, into the mountain, I felt that I had to explore it. After walking for a short while, the bright lights of a large trucking company parking lot broke through the trees. As its rays lightened the path for a stretch, I could faintly hear a few trucks and noises. My father was a truck driver for many years, and this particular spot reminded me of rural truck stops; as though his spirit was also present. Soon the trail turned dark again. The straw made it easy to see my way.

It's not a great idea to hike in a remote area at night by yourself, but I was so eager to see what was "just around the next bend." The darkness plays tricks on you sometimes. Natural features can appear to be a person or an animal. Sometimes, for brief instants, fear can overcome you. A flashlight is always a must, if for no other reason than to signal to a person that you might encounter. However, this sanctuary of straw was all mine on that night. When I got to a slightly higher elevation, there was a small break in the wood and brush, and I could see some dry grassy hillsides in the opposite direction. Amid the slightly illuminated ash-blonde hills was the freeway and some lights. At night, from this vantage point, nothing looked familiar. Just from that angle, it reminded me of rural parts of California Interstate 5; and from my location, it seemed like a lost highway, just as I was on a lost pathway.

I stopped to soak in this view of a familiar place that the night had made look so different. The dry grassy hills reminded me of the hills around the Concord Pavilion and concerts from years before, when I hanged around with a group of guys who were pretty much only interested in heavy metal music and drinking. I think sometimes people can long for the simplicity of their youth or young adulthood. It also reminded me of the grassy hills around the Shoreline Amphitheatre in the South Bay, and how we used to arrive early and wander into the thick nearby eucalyptus groves to hangout, talk, laugh, and drink. Now those groves are all gone, and police and security make certain that concertgoers park, attend, and leave in a proper manner. I could hear my old friends' voices and laughter as I gazed upon the night view.

Finally, I made it to the earlier mentioned ending point, the street. The tracks had once crossed at this point, only to continue behind another passageway of which I was familiar with. Indeed this stretch of road was also empty at night, and I walked into the wide, well-lighted, empty street for a moment. I had come full circle from one familiar location to another, like connecting the dots by finding out what is between them. Then I headed back to where I had started, with the glowing pathway of straw and the spirits as my guides through the darkness.


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