Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 183

Halfway there! The first six months of preparation for the Camino have already changed my life tremendously. I can only imagine where I'll be when this is all over. No, I take that back. I can't imagine at all! At the times when I feel I'm making no progress at all, something always comes along to remind me of how far I've come. That helps fuel my passion to continue. It's so rewarding to look back on where this has led me, so I can't wait to see what's ahead.

The reminder of my progress from this past weekend was a powerful one. So powerful, in fact, I am still processing it. I will share as much as I can, but I'm unable to tell everything out of respect for another person who was involved. This is mostly his story, I was only a bit player. But, bit player or not, I know I will feel the ripples from this experience for some time to come.

I went on a ghost hunting adventure in the desert of California at the Amargosa Hotel & Opera House in Death Valley. Lately, my theories and opinions on "ghosts" and the possibilities of what they might be have drastically changed. It's been exciting for me, but it's also sent me into a bit of a skeptical tailspin, so to speak. I don't know what to believe anymore. A crisis of faith is what I call it. I haven't been too worried about it, knowing it's all part of this new phase of my life that I'm entering, but I have struggled with the fact that I didn't know if I could believe anything at all.

When I arrived at the Amargosa Hotel, I was exhausted, having been up since 3:00 am to catch my flight. I knew I had a long night ahead of me, so I decided to take a nap before the evening's festivities began. I quickly fell sound asleep. I don't know how long I had been napping when I woke up with an overwhelming urge to turn on my iOvilus. For my non-paranormal friends, that's a ghost hunting tool that reads the energy in the room and spits out words. Usually when you turn it on, it begins to say random words, most of which make no sense. It never really shuts up. There's typically a word every few seconds. But this time, I turned it on, and nothing. Silence. I waited, and I waited. I was just about to turn it off when it said one single word.


Then once again, it was silent. Not another word for the entire 20-30 minutes I left it on.

Soon it was time to get up and get ready for the first night of the event. It would be a night of socializing and fun. Barbecue, bonfire and beer. I had arrived alone, but I arrive at many events alone. I had long ago overcome the fear of just getting out there and meeting new people. I knew a few people who would be there as well, and had been looking forward to seeing them again. But as I laid there in the bed, my old social anxiety took over. Suddenly, I didn't want to go. I wanted to hide in my room. When I tell you I waged a war with myself to get out the door of my room and into the lobby of that hotel, I'm not exaggerating. No idea where that came from. I'm just glad I didn't let it stop me. I met some amazing new people and had a ton of fun with those I already knew. It reminded me of the message I got not long ago. "The darkness will be there if you need it. It's where you feel most comfortable," But instead of letting my old friend, fear, dictate my life, this time I chose the opposite. No darkness for me tonight, thank you very much. I choose the light. It is a choice. My choice.

The next night, was ghost hunting night. But what actually happened was so much more personal and rewarding than finding "evidence" of some former hotel guest still roaming the halls. It began in the former women's restroom in Spooky Hollow, the nickname they have given to the unrenovated portion of the hotel wing. I was standing in the room with three other people, when a darkness began to envelop us. The only way to explain it is that it was blacker than black. The darkness seemed to be emanating from one of the 3' X 3' shower stalls and surrounding us, sucking the light out of the room. Suddenly my friend turned to me and said,

"I think you need to go in the shower stall."

"ME?!? Why me?"

"Because this was the women's restroom and I feel like something bad may have happened in here to a woman."

As ghost hunters, we often go off of intuition and instinct like that. Hard to explain, but it sometimes works. So into the shower I went. OK, I wasn't as willing as that makes me sound. After my fingers were pried off the door jamb. and I received a good shove from behind, I found myself standing in the shower. As I stood in the very cramped stall, I saw a veil of darkness descend between me and the three people who were all within a few feet. Then a door appeared to open to my left. And behind that door was the vastness of the entire Universe. I wanted to reach out and see if I could touch the side of the shower stall, to see if I was imagining it, but I was afraid that something would grab my arm and suck me through the door and I'd be gone. I asked my friend to peek in and see if he saw anything.

"Whoa!" he said. "It's like Space Mountain in there!"

At that point, I knew what I was experiencing was real. If he saw it too, I wasn't just imagining it. Or if I was imagining it, I was also physically manifesting it. I stepped out of the shower and asked him if he would go in and see if it happened for him as well. It did happen for him, and for each and every one of the other people who were brave enough to try it that night. I have no idea what is going on there, but all I can say is that I stood on the edge of something huge. Something beyond our human comprehension. I may not have had the courage to reach in and experience it, but I acknowledged it, and for now that was good enough.


Later in the night, an even more powerful event took place. This is the portion of the night I can't share. It's not my story to tell. It belongs to someone else. He just allowed me to be a part of it and for that I will be forever grateful. I believe the two events of the night were related. The door of the Universe opened for us and allowed us to see beyond our human limitations and to experience something which showed us that there is something greater out there watching over us. Helping us. Wanting us to ask for access to its wealth of knowledge. And willing to share that knowledge when we're ready. It was a game changer for those of us who were a part of it all. We have each been affected in some way by our participation, partly because we allowed ourselves to believe.


Later as we discussed and analyzed the experience, we realized that it happened only because we were ready. Six months ago, I know I would not have been prepared for my role in it all. Because of that realization, we learned that everything is perfectly timed. It happens exactly when you are ready. Not an instant before and not an instant after. Like magic.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 176

And so I have begun the next leg of my Camino. A new part of the journey, and along with it, new things to experience and to learn. The time spent on my symbolic Meseta has come to a close. The hard part is over. Or is it? I guess it's all in my perception.

I think back to the beginning of what I consider to be my awakening, when I first caught a glimpse of my soul. I remember feeling relief. Finally! I've found that illusive path I'm "supposed" to travel. The rest is easy. I'll just follow this little trail, and nothing can go wrong ever again. Little did I know how that path would lead me through the depths of my being and out the other side. It wasn't easy AT ALL! It was difficult, frustrating and painful. There were tears, and there was heartbreak. There was loss, and there were disappointments.

And I'd do it all again.

At the very beginning of all of this, when things began to get tough, I tried to turn around. To go back to the day before I understood. Before I knew. But what they say is true. Once you have acknowledged that spark inside, it becomes a fire you can't put out. There is no turning back. There's only one way out, and that is to walk through it. What they don't tell you is that, after spending enough time in the dark, it becomes your place of comfort. There is solace in the dark. The work I did in there was for myself. It was private. In the dark, there was little, if any, accountability to anyone else. If I screwed up, it didn't matter. No one could see.

Now I stand on the edge of this new way of living - of BEING - and I realize, I'm scared! It's bright out here in the light. Everyone can see me. My work, instead of being for me, now becomes something to be shared with others. I resist the urge to, once again, try to turn around, to return to the safety of the darkness. Has my preparation been good enough? Am I good enough? Am I worthy of this light that shines on me, and through me? I can only trust that if the answers to these questions were no, then I wouldn't be standing here. My preparation has been good enough. I am good enough. And yes, I am worthy of this light. We are all worthy of the light.

I may be scared, but I've learned how to acknowledge that fear without letting it stop me. Fear, and all of the emotions associated with it, no longer control my life. I have so much to share. I have found my passion, and for that I am eternally grateful. Now that I have discovered the 'what', the 'how' will take care of itself. This part of the journey won't be without its tears and its heartbreak, but I have come to recognize them as my friends. Little symbols of how much I care and how much I give of myself. I'm ready to receive what this life has to offer. And in the receiving, to give it all back, knowing there's always more.

My heart is full and my knuckles are no longer white. I'd say that's a very good place to be.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 166

Let's get real here. I am walking the Camino de Santiago in May 2013. I'm almost at the halfway mark in my year of preparation. In the past couple of months, it has become something that I say, not something that I do. Won't I be surprised, when I stand ready to take that first step in St. Jean Pied-du-Port, and I realize that just saying it hasn't prepared me physically for the walk. So now I must forgive myself and change it.

As I have said before, there is no distinction for me between the road to the Camino and the actual Camino itself. I am already on my Camino. The journey began the moment I first uttered the words to myself. "I am walking the Camino de Santiago." In the beginning it was a romanticized version of what it would be. The beauty. The art. The architecture. All of those things I would experience by foot, allowing me the time to fully take them in and to feel their energy. A traveler, not a tourist, truly immersing myself in the culture of a foreign country. As I began to prepare, however, I realized that while I will have those amazing experiences, there is much more to what I have undertaken. There is the spiritual journey within and without. I will be asked to face my fears and, rather than walk around them, instead to walk through them. In preparation for that, and without even consciously knowing I was doing it, I have begun to draw things to myself that need to be fixed. Situations I would have run from in the past, I have faced up to. I have looked fear in the eye, and I haven't backed down. I have gone deep within and found my shadow self, that part of me that I didn't want to be. I have embraced my shadow. I have found the good in it. I have found the good in me. I have learned to love me, shadows and all.

Lately I haven't had time for meditation. Truth be told, I just haven't taken the time for meditation. I haven't put myself first. So this morning, I took the 20 minutes I needed and I spent some time with God. Typically, when I meditate, I imagine myself at the top of a staircase. As I would take each step down, I could feel myself going deeper and deeper inward. But today I got to the staircase and I put my foot out, ready to take that first step down, and instead I took a step up. As I often do, I tried to "fix" my visualization. No, no, Callea, you need to go deeper into meditation. You need to step DOWN. And then I heard a gentle, quiet voice that told me, "You've been down there. You've done what you need to do in the darkness and the depths. Now it's time for you to learn how to step UP. There are lessons to be learned up here as well. It's time. Leave the darkness behind. It will still be there when you need it. It's where you feel most comfortable and that's OK. But now you are ready to face your fear of the light and step into it." Now to be honest, I don't know that I heard those exact words. I know that I felt the words. And I know that it was very important to me, after the meditation was done, to immediately write this so that those words I had felt could become a reality. Something I could look back on when I needed a reminder.

And so, there you have it. All my life, I've thought I was afraid of the dark, but now I know I'm really afraid of the light. My light.