The tent is empty. The bedding has been packed up and shipped off to Mom & Dad. The plastic tubs of clothes have been, more or less, neatly repacked and restacked in the back of my weary and dirt encrusted little car. The cheerful prayer flags and chiming Japanese bell have been careful stored away.
The office is an empty shell once more, home to only paper files and a chipmunk named Lola. The 'Facilities Guys' will once again be just the Facilities 'Guys.'
To see me off Sylvain and I took Magic and Midnight up over the Kami Shrine ridge and onto the trails of the National Forest Land. We ate wild rasberries and galloped up twisting hill trails. We looked out onto vistas of crisscrossing hills, shadowing in the late afternoon sun, each a little more ephemeral than the one before it. We started two fawns and their mother, who startled us in turn as the popped up from the sage brush just a few feet away.
I exchanged hugs, goodbyes, emails, and quips and promised to return. Chlirissa, who is riding back to Nebraska with me to visit for a week, did the same. Now I spend me last night in Shambhala, my car already packed close to exploding, and ready to head east.
It is an end, but it is not the end. I am excited and disappointed. It is a poignant moment to watch the last pink sunset and know it will be weeks before I see it again. But it will only be weeks. And I will always have Shambhala with me, as I pour over maps, photographs, and Dharma talks looking for that spark of inspiration for the new Kitchen & Dining Hall design I will shortly be working on. More than that, I don't think this place ever really lets a person leave. You carry it around with you and try to recreate it everywhere you go, with every breath, even if you don't know it.
Chogyam Trungpa's "enlightened society" is the one you just can't seem to leave behind.