Whispers of the Wolf…

“If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin. Go out in the woods, go out.”
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

One of the most important – and most painful – lessons I learned on my journey was to trust fully, completely, in my intuition and my instincts. Even when the whisper is so very small. We always seem to say, “Oh yes, we must!” But how often do we really do so? How often do we have those subtle “inklings” but choose to ignore them because of some perceived logic, or emotion … or perhaps what we think we “should” do. How often do we drown the song of intuition with our own desires?

I’d always been pretty good at listening to those knowings, but on my journey there were a few times I ignored it. Most were inconsequential and easily righted, but I came to realize there was one in particular that changed everything: A moment when I knew, as I stepped from the car – not listening and heeding the voice in my heart, asking if this really was what I wanted – that I had changed everything originally intended by the heavens. From that day on – though still yielding many wonderful moments and memories – The Ride and I were never the same.The journey that had begun in June 2017 veered from its original path, and never fully returned. There is a price to pay when we don’t listen to those quiet whispers. But, the heavens still offer surprises…..

Exactly a year ago one of the most amazing gifts of the entire journey came 9 months after that detour … an opportunity to sit with the wolves. Had things not happened exactly as they did, I would not have found myself in an enclosure, crouched low, hands buried deep in fur, my face lavished by wet kisses, being loved on and exchanging breaths with a full-blooded wolf … my spirit dancing with his far beyond the boundaries of the time and enclosure. And yesterday, for some silent reason, I picked up a book I’d put away long ago and in turning the pages, stumbled onto a story of a wolf … and of intuition. A story of the connection, and of listening. It seems ironic – or rather, not – that at this time when I am sifting through the lessons learned on my journey, and making decisions about the future, I unwittingly turn to a page that bridges past to the present, speaking to lessons learned. That day, one year ago, I believe I walked away from that enclosure with far, far more than just incredible memories … rather, I think perhaps I walked away with an eyelash……


The Wolf’s Eyelash

If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.

“Don’t go out in the woods, don’t go out,” they said.

“Why not? Why should I not go out in the woods tonight?” she asked.

“A big wolf lives there who eats humans such as you. Don’t go out in the woods, don’t go out. We mean it.”

Naturally, she went out. She went out in the woods anyway, and of course she met the wolf, just as they had warned her.

“See, we told you,” they crowed.

“This is my life, not a fairy tale, you dolts,” she said. “I have to go to the woods, and I have to meet the wolf, or else my life will never begin.”

But, the wolf she encountered was in a trap, in a trap this wolf’s leg was in.

“Help me, oh help me! Aieeeee, aieeee, aieeee!” cried the wolf. “Help me, oh help me!” he cried, “and I shall reward you justly.” For this is the way of wolves in tales of this kind.

“How do I know you won’t harm me?” she asked – it was her job to ask questions. “How do I know you will not kill me and leave me lying in my bones?”

“Wrong question,” said this wolf. “You’ll just have to take my word for it.” And the wolf began to cry and wail once again and more. “Oh, aieee! Aieeee! Aieeee! There’s only one question worth asking fair maiden, wooooooooor aieeeee th’ sooooooool?”

“Oh you wolf, I will take a chance. Alright, here!” And she sprang the trap and the wolf drew out its paw and this she bound with herbs and grasses.

“Ah, thank you kind maiden, thank you,” sighed the wolf. And because she had read too many of the wrong kind of tales, she cried, “Go ahead and kill me now, and let us get this over with.”

But no, this did not come to pass. Instead this wolf put his paw upon her arm. “I’m a wolf from another time and place,” said he. And plucking a lash from his eye, gave it to her and said, “Use this, and be wise. From now on you will know who is good and not so good; just look through my eyes and you will see clearly. For letting me live, I bid you live in a manner as never before. Remember, there’s only one question worth asking fair maiden, wooooooooor aieeeee th’ soooooooool?”

And so she went back to her village, happy to still have her life. And this time as they said, “Just stay here and be my bride,” or “Do as I tell you,” or “Say as I want you to say, and remain as unwritten upon as the day you came,” she held up the wolf’s eyelash and peered through and saw their motives as she had not seen them before. And the next time the butcher weighed the meat she looked through her wolf’s eyelash and saw that he weighed his thumb too. And she looked at her suitor who said “I am so good for you,” and saw that her suitor was so good for exactly nothing. And in this way and more, she was saved, from not all, but from many, misfortunes.

But more so, in this new seeing, not only did she see the sly and cruel, she began to grow immense in heart, for she looked at each person and weighed them anew through this gift from the wolf she had rescued. And she saw those who were truly kind and went near to them, she found her mate and stayed all the days of her life, she discerned the brave and came close to them, she apprehended the faithful and joined with them, she saw bewilderment under anger and hastened to soothe it, she saw love in the eyes of the shy and reached out to them, she saw suffering in the stiff-lipped and courted their laughter, she saw need in the man with no words and spoke for him, she saw faith deep in the woman who said she had none, and rekindled hers from her own. She saw all things with her lash of wolf, all things true, and all things false, all things turning against life and all things turning toward life, all things seen only through the eyes of that which weighs the heart with heart, and not with mind alone.

This is how she learned that it is true what they say, that the wolf is the wisest of all. If you listen closely, the wolf in its howling is always asking the most important question – not where is the next food, not where is the next fight, not where is the next dance? – but the most important question in order to see into and behind, to weigh the value of all that lives, woooooooor aieeeee th’ sooooooool? wooooooooor aieeeee th’ soooooooool? Where is the soul? Where is the soul?

Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin. Go out in the woods, go out. Go out in the woods, go out. Go out in the woods, go out.

~ Clarissa PinkolaEstes, Ph.D.


Goodbye’s are Never Easy….

“You and I will meet again, When we’re least expecting it,
One day in some far off place, I will recognize your face,
I won’t say goodbye my friend, For you and I will meet again.”
~ Tom Petty

Well, today is the last day I’ll have with my little girl … my little Subi … and I’m soon going down to clean Her out. She is tired and worn, and it’s time to let her go. I know, I know … it’s just a piece of metal, a conglomeration of mechanical bits and pieces without either breath or soul. But I beg to differ. She was so very special … coming into my world as I began picking my life back up again after I’d found myself homeless for a time; shouldering my belongings as I moved from apartment to apartment over the years; keeping me safe and bearing the brunt of terrible damage in my only-ever accident; trudging through snow and mud to take me off the beaten path as I searched for inspiration and art to photograph and write about. And then, finally, carrying me safely across this country … 8 seasons, 35 states and 26,000 miles of highway, dirt roads, mountain passes, canyon trails. From below sea level to over 12,000′; Atlantic to Gulf to Pacific; from redwood forests to barren deserts, city to country to no-man’s-land. And then she carefully brought me back to where I started. She worked hard, harder than any other car I’ve ever had … and she is worn out and tired. We all have a body, a physical body – one that ages, and breaks down as the years go by. We replace parts … knees, hips, shoulders, even the heart on occasion, and I have done so with Her. But there still comes a time when the body can bear no more … and so it is with my sweet little Subi … The Silver Backpack. Oh, I’m going to miss her! I’ve been through many changes in my life, and I know there are yet more to come … but I admit, this one is hard. As I said to someone earlier today, “It is funny how we get attached to a certain one. My girl became all-to-me during my 2-year meander around the country … she was partner, parent, supporter. My home, my heart, my muse. And she gave her all to me. It is difficult to say good bye.”

Tomorrow I pick up a new-to-me vehicle … a 2007 blue Honda Civic. I do look forward to the adventures to come with the New Blue – I hope he/she (haven’t check under “the hood” yet 😉 ) will be as good to me as the Subi, and I am excited to get back on the road … it has been a stifling six months of being house-bound, daring not to venture far, for fear of total breakdown. I’ve learned that I need to “go” … I must go … to wander, to meander. Even to move if need be, so to quench that thirst for beauty, to touch the faces of the Earth, to breathe the air of exploration and fill my soul with the all-that-is. There is still so much more to see, to taste, to feel.

Goodbye, my dear little Girl … you served me well, and you deserve to rest. Our time together, indeed, will always remain special in my heart. Let the adventure continue…….

The Greatest Gift…

“The greatest gift of life is friendship…
and I have received it.”
~ Hubert H. Humphrey

And it is a gift whose moments often bring the softest of tender tears to the heart and soul. Although “The Ride” itself has ended, there are so many wonderful moments to look back on, and I hope you’ll allow me to share a story of this one – one of true transcendence from what probably were the most cherished few hours along the journey….

Judy and I were high school friends – well, in reality, she was far more than that to me. My childhood and especially my teen years were difficult at best; actually they were often terribly frightening and brutal. I was beaten by an angry father and suffered through many years of extreme emotional and physical abuse at the hands of a schizophrenic mother. I recall more times than I can count being tossed out of the house early in the morning, clad only in my jeans and sneakers no matter the weather – rain, snow, heat – and told not to come back until the evening, when it was time to do my chores. Due to a number of reasons beyond my control I had few friends or places to go. Judy and her family, though they had their own challenges, would take me in, feed me, give me shelter and warmth. I could always knock on their door, and it was always open to me. She and I – and a couple of other kids at school who were a bit ostracized – would gather at lunch in the stairwells, playing guitar and singing songs of peace and hope to come. It was a circle of calm in turbulent times, both personally and politically. In many ways she and her family saved my sanity, and we developed a bond that existed beyond a need for words or constant contact. So when I began my journey in June of 2015, I’d hoped with all of my heart to have a chance to see my old friend, as I knew I’d be stopping briefly in Pittsburgh – where I’d gone to school, and where she still lived. It had been many years since I’d visited that city and it took a while to get my bearings, but on a day that will forever be beautifully etched into my memory, we reached across the bridge and closed a decades long gap.Another friend from high school was playing mandolin at an Irish Pub in town that night – I was to go with him, and she would join us there after work. I’d not seen Judy in 43 years … since our graduation day. I waited nervously – how had she changed? Would we still be friends? Would the connection still be there? The minutes ticked by insufferably slowly. It was almost time for the band to start, was she coming? Had she changed her mind? After innumerable heart-stopping openings and closings of the door … nope, not her, sigh … the long awaited moment finally came. It honestly was if a slow motion Hallmark movie … we shouted and screamed and ran toward each other, caring little about what anyone saw or heard, or the stares and mouths agape. Embracing, rocking, not ever wanting to let go again, tears streaming down both of our faces. We spent the next few short hours catching up and talking … yet, in many ways we didn’t need to. And then we said our goodbyes once again.

There are connections that lie beyond the realm of words, but rather live and breathe in spirit beyond. The greatest gift in life is friendship … and indeed, I have been blessed and honored with this most incredibly beautiful of gifts.