[Hippie alert – this is a story grounded somewhere in the early 70s, so if anything with a whiff of shamanism turns you off, you may wish to click “close”.]
At 60, I’m still not entirely convinced about the validity of signs from the universe, but sometimes the inference is hard to resist.
I had a particularly shitful day recently, thanks to some external forces, and the next morning I was still befuddled by the previous day’s episodes. I took heed of one of those aphorisms you find on Pinterest – “You’re only one bike ride away from a good mood” – and took off on my bike to see if I could blow some of the bad vibes away. I had a certain route in mind, but something led me instead to visit Flat Rock.
You can be lucky, or not, at Flat Rock. It’s supposed to be a little-known vantage point with a staggering view of the Jamison Valley. Word has leaked out though, and the smaller tourist buses can access it. Some days there may be three bus loads of gawkers swarming over its natural sandstone terrace. This day it was deserted, like it was there just for me.
The principal vista from Flat Rock is Mount Solitary, a massive weathered feature which seems to have adopted me, and which I in turn adopted as my spirit mountain. There are views of it from various angles, all around where I live.
On the ride out to Flat Rock, I had been seething with anger and frustration. Standing in front of Mount Solitary, though, I had a shaft of memory from 1975, and thought of the old mystic Don Juan, and his teachings to Carlos Casteneda about “stopping the world”, and listening to what it might be saying. Then, from even further back, I recalled a line from Psalm 121, out of some evensong service in my church-going childhood five decades previously:
“I lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”
[Any bible verse that ever comes into my head is in that kind of language because we were raised on the King James Version circa 1611.]
I looked again at Mount Solitary, and felt compelled to offer a short prayer:
“O Spirit Mountain, Give me strength, give me courage, give me compassion, give me wisdom, give me guidance.”
As I finished the prayer, two black cockatoos, with those yellow highlights on their wings, flew directly over my head, just a few feet above me and in perfect side-by-side formation. Just like they had been sent in answer to the prayer. What guidance were they giving me?
“Float over the top of all that vindictiveness and cruel-heartedness,” they seemed to say.
Then behind me, far across the valley, two dogs started up a ruckus, one barking, the other giving a mournful howl.
“Let the yapping and howling of others go on in the background, unheeded, and get on with things,” the Spirit Mountain said.
As I got back on my bike and rode away, my soul settled, and the anger drained away, and I even doled out a bit of compassion towards the previous day’s protagonists.
Maybe we just make up that sort of external intervention in our heads, to suit ourselves. Maybe there is something out there giving us guidance if we ask – then listen to see if there’s any answer.
Either way, it’s better than anger and frustration.