In our Zen tradition, we learn from the Buddha’s perspective that there is no-coming, no-going. That is a teaching that can liberate people from the ideas of birth and death that, he taught, keep us caught and unable to have the freedom to deeply live our lives. Another way of experiencing this is “Continuation”-the endless change and re-formation of everything interbeing with everything else. Sitting atop the University Memorial Center at the University of Colorado this morning, I can see continuation manifesting. It’s not just the coffee and the view although both are exceptional.
After a spectacular week of travel across the country, I’ve spent the last few days getting my daughter settled here in Boulder. No blushing Freshman, she is a transfer student who took a year off. She knows pretty well what she wants to do here and she’s not intimidated by the institution. This is good.
Traveling by car, something we all took for granted when I was a kid, is a connected way to touch sense of place that an over reliance on airplanes has diluted in me. Note to self-not too late to balance! Touching New Orleans is The French Quarter, art, food and the Preservation Hall All Stars. It is The Natchez, sailing on the Mississippi powered by steam (call it a tourist cliché’ if you like, but if you haven’t done it, you may want to rethink) and found the ONLY vegan restaurant in town for real red beans and rice and even beignets.
The trip across the continent that is Texas was nicely cleaved. Part one was the transition from the wet jungle South to the hot and drier West, touching base in Austin with the dearest of friends-a brother-in-music of mine from the Ancient Days. The second path led into mystical New Mexico. This is the land of my ancestors, both spiritual and blood, and besides consuming generous quantities of both Red and Green, we saw dessert stars, and breathed in the sage scented essence of a way of living in abundant space and intense quiet.
Olivia and I both posed for pictures in front of her Great-Great Grandmother’s house and we told stories of our clan going back as far as I can remember and some anecdotes that may or may not be true but are part of the trove of family legend.
Crossing the Colorado border in a high-dessert thunderstorm, the windows came down and the car was flooded with the distinct petrichor of the West, a short burst of pelting cold rain with the sagebrush silently smiling its thanks. Then came the real mountains for the first time and the last long push up the length of the front-range into Boulder in time for sunset. We were both home in different ways. She, in her new writer’s adventure and me as a prodigal, back where I did what we always called “COLLEGE” (caps always implied) back in the early 70’s.
Boulder is brilliant. It is at once seething energy and elegant pacing, a flavorful sauce of poetry and physics, set in a kind of beauty that makes people stop in their tracks (and often in the middle of the street) to just notice. So, as she has spent her days with the building energy of moving in, getting bearings and psyching up for the experience of a great University, I have had the luxury of walking the trails and driving the high country where I know all of the ghosts by name, what they demand and how they sing to those they love. This wild apple dropped on the trail, that gravel road, these vistas in space and time, and this 50-degree breeze up here on the roof deck looking square into the face of The Flatirons who are smiling. The Greek behind “Nostalgia” is literally “the pain of homecoming”. That’s not what this is. This is joy. This is gratitude. What a lovely Continuation.