Beginnings, Endings, and Transcendings.
There’s no such thing as a season finale.
A season finale is an attention getter and keeper. If successful, it plants a seed in your mind that bursts a few months later into a fervent desire to find out where the story will go next. Don’t let yourself get fooled into believing that season finales only occur in TV land. No. They occur in life.
Season finales appear as transitions between seasons, between days and nights, and between each moment throughout each day. One way to acknowledge this change of seasons is to duck out into some inter-dimensional portal–like a bathroom–and stretch your face in all directions. This has many effects, one of which is to break apart the muscular residue of the previous situation….delivering you fresh and organic into the next one. If you don’t believe me, try it a few hundred times and get back to me with some notes.
Having just devoured a burrito and a cup of coffee, I find myself in a different state than when I ordered the burrito 30 minutes ago. Any moment that stands out in your memory and feels laden with meaning and power signifies a change of season. All the symbols in that momentary flash of memory have the power to foretell the events of the next chapter of life. All memories have self-referential contents.
Summer of 1999
Loose dirt and pebbles rolled underneath my boots as I walked away from the sidewalk across a gravel swath in the pouring rain at a gas station just off Interstate 90 west of Spokane, WA. The soles of my boots couldn’t quite grip the gravel. A 93-pound backpack made each step more difficult and the sliding pebbles felt like walking on ice. Finally I made it to the grass.
I had made a wise decision to cut a half-mile off my journey back onto the highway by bushwhacking a diagonal path to the Interstate across a grassy area, instead of going back to the entrance and exit ramp from whence I came. The grass moved aside to reveal deep and muddy traps waiting for boots just like mine. Each step sunk my feet deeper and deeper into the mud. The highway was only 20 feet more across that mucky hell. Heavy rains hung like an opaque curtain between the highway and me. I could barely make out the road. I figured that cutting across the field would get me on the highway at least 20 minutes faster than walking on the road back to the entrance ramp.
Once I found myself within 3 feet of the highway, I noticed a welcoming barbed-wire fence. The rain continued. The fence appeared like magic out of the stormy haze. That fucking bastard appeared out of nowhere. I cut my leg trying to step over. Then I cut my pack trying to toss it over. Then I turned around after screaming, “Fuck! Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.” The moral of the story is to never take short cuts.
I headed back through the mud to the place where I began. 45 minutes later, I found my way down the entrance ramp and onto the highway. At the entrance to the highway, I saw a sign:
I laughed to myself and walked past the sign to the highway. I never liked using entrance ramps when I could see a steady stream of traffic just ahead. I risked the police attention and walked onward.
I walked west past 1 mile marker. Then 2. Then 3, 4, 5, 6, 7….Where in the hell was the truck stop? I put my pack on the side of the road and pulled out my atlas. (What? No google maps? Forgive me…this was 1999.) The atlas showed a truck stop 6 miles east of Spokane…UGH.
I plodded along in a cold downpour until a physicist from British Columbia let me muddy up his car on his way to Seattle. He dropped me where Highway 97 goes south from I-90. I got out and rejoiced that the rain had not followed us from Spokane.
One night earlier, I had gotten an almost endless ride from some dude traveling home to Spokane in a minivan from somewhere in Montana. He picked me up outside of Billings with a couple of kids who showed up 2 weeks late for a rainbow gathering, shocked to have missed it. He dropped them off in Missoula at a hotel.
By the time 4:30 a.m. had rolled around, I woke up to see the wet streets of Spokane rolling past the van windows. I had hoped for a warm place to shower and sleep, but the dude decided to take me to a campground somewhere just west of Spokane. I always made sure to have drivers drop me off a little beyond whatever city we were near so I could avoid the dangers of getting lost or stuck in the city.
I always preferred to set up a camp in a tiny patch of trees, a farmer’s field, a park, a campground, or a driver’s backyard. I never slept underneath a bridge, or in any other obvious homeless dwelling place. I let other assholes fight with each other for shitty cement beds while I slept soundly a mile or two outside of town in a place where no one would find me.
The dude from Spokane dropped me off at a Yogi Bear theme campground. The place wanted $25 for a tent spot, and I would have to leave by noon anyway, so I left. I walked a couple of miles back to the road we had taken off the highway. There was a convenience mart there with a payphone in a booth in front. I made a futile call to my mother from the phone, hoping and wishing that somehow she would find a way to make the rain stop and get me to Eugene, Oregon without any further hitchhiking. I did not like the idea of walking another 6 miles to the truck stop the dude at the convenience mart had promised me I would find. Mother wished me well…
That little clip of a story attempts to communicate some bit of how in the hell I got here in front of this laptop in a restaurant in Eugene today. It does a very poor job. I have no idea how in the hell I got here…
When I think back to that rainy adventure, I feel a yearning for the dimension of the unknown….the dimension between the more regulated times of my life. Of course, if I remember what’s really going on at any given moment, I realize that I am always living in the dimension of the unknown, and so are you. I have no idea what will happen next. I, like you, am very good at pretending probabilities are certainties. Things have happened this way before, so they are likely to keep happening this way again. Peace and a false sense of security arise from thinking that way.
A Season Finale is something powerful enough to get you to come back again for the following season of episodes. Adventures can happen like that too. Hell, every day can hold enough excitement to bring me through to the next day, looking for more life than I had a moment before. Of course, all of life sits right here inside me all the time.
What follows is a gallery of Season Finales from my life. These come from years and years of experience. They all come from in-between slices of what I call my life. These parts arose unplanned, and their power shocked me into the next phase of my life. They are not in chronological order.
-Paddling in a canoe with Jeannie Z. across a lake outside Grand Marais, MN to get a ride back to Minneapolis with two lesbian women Jeannie and I had met on trail on our 7-day trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Jeannie enjoyed women exclusively before and after her and I hooked up. That trip back to Minneapolis felt like the loneliest trip of my life. As the city infrastructure replaced the wilderness, I could feel the cold cement underneath me where Jeannie had just laid only hours before. We ended our relationship and friendship after that trip. What would happen next?
-Moving out of my parents’ house into a house in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood in Minneapolis with Joanna.
-Sleeping next to a fence outside an RV campground on the edge of town near Davenport, IA.
-Waking up at Wreck Beach on the ocean just outside Vancouver, BC.
-Putting all my stuff into storage in friends’ basements across Minneapolis before journeying to the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado by way of Chicago.
-Running away from my parents for the first time at age 3 in northern Minnesota. I got picked up and returned to them by a one-eyed garbage man.
-Eating mushrooms the first time in a bedroom in NE Minneapolis with my friend Keith, who kept telling me, “It’s ok, man. You’ll be ok.” I insisted that I felt fine, great, even wonderful, but Keith didn’t believe me. He knew it would be ok later on sometime.
-Tripping out in the woods next to the Rum River north of Princeton, MN. The cops came and hiked out to our campsite with a huge vicious dog. Nothing happened, but having the police penetrate my trip took some of the magic of tripping away from then on.
-Locking my fanatical neck to a front-end loader to prevent it from tearing up the parkland behind a bunch of houses in South Minneapolis. This resulted in one of my first arrests.
-Watching more than 800 Minneapolis and Minnesota police officers swarm and arrest 30 people at the “Minnehaha Free State” in South Minneapolis. December 20, 1998.
-Watching my step-brother get the phone call telling him my mother had died.
-Finding out I didn’t have enough money to keep attending the University of Minnesota.
-Graduating with a degree in religious studies and creative writing from the University of Oregon. (These two disciplines are not far apart. All those religious documents had to be written by someone…)
-The final scene and bonfire at the conclusion of the Kenny Rogers’ Rock Opera in Saginaw, Oregon. The bonfire consumed almost every piece of the sets and props from the play as everyone present shouted the lyrics to “The Gambler” while watching it burn.
-Having sex with S. the first time in a tent in a backyard after waiting a couple LONG months for her to arrive.
-Meeting various gurus and authors over the years, Norman Allen, E.J. Gold, Dr. Christopher S. Hyatt, Claude Needham PhD, and many others.
-Running through the dark streets of L.A. for hours into the early morning while the cops chased people everywhere during the 1999 Democratic National Convention. We got home unscathed that night.
-Playing music all night in Alpine, Wyoming to a bar crowded full of locals and Earth First!ers from around the country. They fed me free beers until 11 and free whiskeys after that until I made myself a rock star over the side of their porch, in their bathroom, and in the parking lot.
-Soaking in an Oregon hot spring as a full moon and bright stars broke through the eye-shaped hole in the canopy of trees above me.
-Swimming in the Mississippi River the first time.
-Using a chaos magic ritual of my own design to create an alternate dimension on a piece of land that the City of Eugene was attempting to regulate. There were hand built dwellings that weren’t up to code, huge gardens, and beautiful tenants who didn’t want to leave their place. The ritual worked and the city stopped bothering them immediately.
-Attending my very first Gnostic Mass.
-Conducting my very first Gnostic Mass.
-The first time I blew my mind with an exercise sequence from the book, Secrets of Western Tantra I exclaimed, “Oh my Gawd! I have a body!”
-Appearing in two DVDs released by Original Falcon.
-Producing two DVDs released by Original Falcon.
Oh my, I could write so much more. I fear the thread of coherence has lest itself somewhere among this reminiscence. Will you come back next month to read my next article? Does any of this make you want to hear more? I assure you, each of the pieces above could expand with a little coaxing into a story of its own.
If you made it this far, leave a comment with some Season Finales of your own. I would love to read them.
May all of us encourage each other to explore the spaces between all the things we think we know. Dive into the cracks in the walls of your houses. Explore the scary conversations you never have. Walk out on the highway just to see what it looks and feels like without the safety and comfort of your own car. Eat some mushrooms. Yes, adventure lives in exotic places. Don’t forget, Earth is an exotic place, and you live there! Your life is an adventure already. Had you forgotten? Look around. How did you get here? Where will you go next? Once you remember to look at your whole life as an adventure into the unknown, each day will deliver you uncountable gifts that will blow your mind. You will get younger.
You will breathe more deeply with the knowledge that you have no idea how this thing will end up.
You have no idea how this thing will end. Neither do I.
Don’t believe all the stories.
There is no proof that you will ever have to die. There is only proof that other people have died, nothing more.
Lived experiences are different than stories. Stop telling stories in your head and witness the perpetual adventure going on all around you and within you. Enjoy!