Delving Into The Woods

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Time to get on with it, time to move on. This is the best part. The going forward, I love it. I love it so much that I actually, already, wrote a blog about it. Well, here goes another.

I always disliked ‘goodbyes.’ It is sort of the same dislike I have for the word ‘never.’ Goodbye sounds too harsh. Really, when one thinks about it, it actually sounds fairly positive. Goodbye. Sort of happy and lyrical. Maybe it is the bye I don’t like. That might be it. Ah well, it rubs me wrong. I prefer ‘see you later.’ I try to say ‘see you later’ to everyone and everything when I leave. It isn’t as harsh and it keeps my choices and plans open ended. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

I am leaving Berkley. I’m leaving the Bay Area. I think this is the last time I shall be here for the rest of the adventure.

Saying that almost seems too harsh, but it is fact. It means I have to plan another trip to this magical place a little later down the road.

Magical, that is what it is. This place holds a small piece of my heart. Even though I dislike the traffic and I find it very, very, busy, I do love it. I found some place in my heart that decided it wanted to be attached, and now it is. Damn heart.

I don’t feel it is a coincidence that I have gotten sick here twice (I wrote a whole other blog about this topic before too). Last time I was here I got sick, and this visit I got sick too, but it wasn’t til I was in Berkeley. I was in San Leandro for two weeks or so and didn’t get a head cold, and now in Berkley it just snuck up on me and took hold. A month ago I may have drawn a negative correlation between the sickness and the place. A month ago I was a different person though.

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I have a new friend named Xak in Berkeley. He rents from Roger and Jana so I got the pleasure of meeting him. There have been many wise people on my adventure. They speak, and wisdom flows out. I have found myself floating on a river of intelligence pretty much the whole journey. The intelligence offered varies greatly though. Some of it is in the form of life advice , some is engine maintenance, and some is wisdom for being on the road. The rarest form of wisdom, the one that feels almost taboo, is spiritual advice. I met Yogi Kai in Bellingham and he gave me some spiritual advice. He was the first to do so, I do believe, and now Xak has been the second. It is hard for a logical mind like mine to make a pact with the spiritual side of the world while being so analytical of all the science. I have to find a medium somewhere in between scientific sense and the things that seem mystical. Anyway, that being said, I think the colds are emblematic of a spiritual dis-ease that is being rewrote by the magic of the Bay.

How’s that for logic and science? Ha.

It is true that stress causes a lower immunity. Like Dad always told me, “Dis-ease causes disease.” Could it be true? Sure. Does the fact that I believe it regardless of science make it true? Maybe. Definitely in the world inside my head.

Anyway, being in Berkeley has brought up a lot of the past that I have made a point of trying to get around. Our lives are all the things that occur to us, wrapped up in a ball of memory and tossed into our brain. That’s our world. Our world is what we percieve it to be. I have been trying to side step that ball, going around it like a person side steps a large ball of shit that just came plummeting from the sky. I give my ball of shit a wide berth and I try to ignore the stench. Well, I did anyway. Then I went on this ‘walkabout,’ and now it seems that ball has got to be figured out. There is a small pebble inside of it. A small shiny Diamond waiting to be unearthed, but, inorder to do so, I have to put on the rubber gloves and dig.

Ewww.

I think my sickness is directly related to the stink of my past, and now I’m being faced with it. Like everyone I have demons from childhood that affect my psyche. Like everyone I have parent issues, and like everyone I have to face ’em. As Xak as told me, I have to go through them, not around. Don’t give the issues a wide berth,  make them face the light of day, and let them wilt away, so they stop living inside my head. I’m working on it.

I took a walk through some botanical gardens the other day. I was feeling especially tired and sick and I really wanted to do something. I was berating myself for lazing around while on adventure; lazing while in BERKELEY. I didn’t see any point to wasting the time, but my headache tried to convince me otherwise. I said screw it, and I got up. I took a ride up to the top of the hill that Roger and Jana live on,  and with me I took the free pass to the gardens that Jana gave me. It was a bout 1:30 when I finally got down there, and it was about 5:00 when I left.

The Berkeley Botanical Garden is incredible. I haven’t ever been to a botanical garden, so it was new for me. I’m not sure how much of this is repeat for anyone who has ever visited a botanical garden, but I will speak about it for all the newbies, like myself, out there. The garden had samples of plants from places all around the world. There was a California section, and one from Colorado. Then there also was a hot house for plants of the tropics, and a Chinese garden. One of my favorites was the Korean garden, but I also liked the Brazil garden. And then, of course, there was a section of Mexico and Central America,  which was much like the foilage in SoCal that I’d seen. Beside every different plant was a plant marker sticking out of the ground. They had the Latin names and the laymen ones. They also said the place the plant was collected from. I found that if I read all the labels there was a small chance of my mind exploding, so instead I just enjoyed the beauty, without the knowledge aspect.

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The gardens brought back the child in me. I try not to be far from that child at most any time, but it was definitely sparked by the garden. The paths were maze like, and they would vary between stones and gravel. I’d be walking along and come across steps, all of different sizes and makes. Some would have moss and be slippery, others would be dry, seemingly lacking water. These paths and stairs went on and on, and then they would stop. I would then need to  back track to find another path. All the while there were large plants all around. Trees with hanging, willow-like, foliage that I would have to walk through. There were benches hidden amongst the plants, and sometimes I would happen upon them and they would be empty, and other times I would happen upon them and see a person sitting, taking it all in. It was like walking through the woods as a kid, finding the different deer trails. Any sign of human life became a tale about the elves or the fairies of the forest land. There was direct correlation between the maziness of the path and the amount of magic it contained. The more brush that hugged the traveler, the more mysterious. The stories only got better the longer the walk was. That’s what the gardens brought back. But the magical thoughts in my brain weren’t of elves and faries they were of spirits and buried thoughts.

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My mom was on my mind. My sister and my dad were there too. I almost imagined my sister playing beside me, telling me smart things and big words about the things I just wanted to look at. I became sentimental as began to sweat. I felt my headache fade and my stuffy nose start to loosen up under the sun and branches of foriegn trees. The further I walked the better I could smell the mixed perfumes all around, and the more I felt at peace with my ball of shit.

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I think that I have missed my walks in the woods being on the road. I don’t know the good places to walk in these new areas full of strange critters. Most of the time I don’t even know where the woods are, being so surrounded by road and civilization most of the time, especially in Cali. A walk in the woods, even controlled woods like the Botanical Gardens, brings out the spiritual part of me. The questioning, considering child who doesn’t yet know the difference between Harry Potter and Helen Keller.

Who was more real? Which one of them knew more magic? They both did great, fantastical, things and whose to say which one I should believe more?

Childhood, it is so magical. It is where I first learned my love of plants and woods. It is where I learned how to write and read. To draw and to see things just the way they are; if that tree is cylindrical it means it needs to be shaded, and like everything it needs a shadow. I learned that I could do anything, unless it was magic. I could do anything except bring my mother into my life. I could do anything except make my three person family a four person one, like everybody else’s.

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Life was full, it was open, and never ending. Life felt like it went by slow, and I couldn’t wait to grow out of the slowness and become an adult. I did grow, as everyone does, and with it brought the spiritual angst that I didn’t even know I had. Even if I knew I didn’t know how to explain it.
As an adult a few key things happened in my first few months of being away from home that shaped my perceptions of the world. I perceived things I didn’t like and thought of them as reality. How was I to know? How does one figure out that there is more, if they can’t see it. Well, one way is to go on a motorcycle journey across the country and meet intelligent guides along the way.

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Get sick, go for walks, and confront the ball of shit. Peel the misguided judgements all the way down to the core and figure out where they stem from. Does everybody want to abandon me or is that just a fear I have from a mother that wasn’t around? Am I always the least knowledgeable person in the room, and does it matter, or is that just a fear I got from being the youngest person in a family of three smarties? Do my opinions and feelings mean anything in the scheme of thing, or is that just a fear I found in a small town of people who thought differently than I? Really, where do my insecurities stem from, and why do I still have to carry them?

Because I haven’t gone through the muck yet to find the bright shiny Diamond. The fresh and young gal that was born and has been gathering shit for too long. Someones got to clean it up. And what better time than now to do that?

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This plant reminded me of chocolate. The peeling bark just looked like it was asking to be sampled. I left it alone though.

Speaking of fresh and young, the last year before the journey I made two small friends by the name of James and Frank. They belonged to my roommate, and so therefore they were my housemates and pals. A two year old and a four year old of whom I got the pleasure of watching turn three and five. They were like the younger brothers I hadn’t met. They were like these little magical dudes that taught me I had to look outside of myself, because if I didn’t they might tumble down the stairs or break my coffee mug. They were my sister and I, just a little further apart in age. I saw them grow the way I remember us doing and it was eye opening, life changing.

When taking my walk through the gardens they crossed my mind more than once. My sentimental state left me wondering how much they had grown and what they were learning. They were on my mind when I stopped at the Garden’s gift shop.

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A rabbit and a rooster.

And so when I saw these two little finger puppets I couldn’t help but buy them. It was an amazing awakening of self to think about the trivial doodads I could give to someone else, because it is something I haven’t considered as much on the road, being with little money and all. I imagined all the joy they might get from the small gifts, cause what kid doesn’t like gifts? And how the fact that I thought of them would affect them as they grew older. Because what kid doesn’t think back and remember the adults who gave a shit as the grow into their own adulthood?

I went back to Telegraph Avenue yesterday. I loved the bookstore there, and the sense of giving was on my mind. I made another little friend in Oceanside. Mya, an eleven year old girl, decided that my host Andrea should adopt me. She was Andrea’s granddaughter and just as sweet. She liked me right off, something that is hard to discern in adults, but so obvious in kids (it is one of the things I love about children the most, the honesty and love they give to everyone; why can’t adults do that?). I gave her a crocheted hat that I made while I was there. She was eager to learn to crochet and she did. She showed me, and I helped her, and as I did I remembered back to a book I read as a kid. The main character learned to crochet from her grandmother. They both had long beautiful hair and her grandma taught her that when a strand of hair falls on the piece they should just crochet it in. When one does that it leaves a small piece of that person in the item they give to their loved ones. I adopted that as a kid. I had long beautiful hair that would never quit shedding, so it meant that all my knit and crochet pieces were peppered with my hair. Mya has beautiful, long, dark hair like the young girl in  the book, so I thought it would be perfect for her. The book is called Esperanza Rising and it was award winning. Anyway, I figured I would find it on Telegraph and then I could bring it back to Mya when I visted Andrea again. I did find it, and I picked it up.

It feels good to give things that matter to people that matter. I think that has something to do with getting through ones pile of shit.

I have much left to do on my walkabout. When I left I remember saying to Dad that I thought I was pretty grounded and not in need of much psychoanalysis. Well, we can’t always be right.

Berkeley, my hosts and guides along the way, and the world are showing me that I have stuff to get through, and that’s ok. A spiritual cleanse isn’t that painful. Time to get on with it, time to move on.

See you later.

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