Written September 20, 2007, while at SMC:
Familiar – that was how it felt to board the train at the sanitary little train station in downtown Lincoln. The sun painted the flatlands of eastern Colorado gold, until the gleaming towers of Denver appeared in the distance. I had come for a class trip, but without my class. I had the opportunity to ride in the University van with the others, but chose to pay the extra to travel alone. I needed to close the loop, fulfill the cycle, catharsis.
I wandered downtown Denver that day as I waited for my classmates to arrive. In the Denver Art Museum, I found an installation with several cards. I chose “happy.” On the back was the quote “I wasn’t born here on the High Plains. I’m here because, even as a child, I knew I had to come home.” – rancher Gaydell Collier, 1997. I kept that one. I wasn’t born in the foothills of the Rockies, I wasn’t born a Dharma brat, but I did come home.
We’ve been here for a day. It feels more like home than eastern Nebraska ever has. Yet…
I cannot continue planning my life around the next trip to Shambhala. I love it here. I feel home here. I can acknowledge that, know that, revel in the glory of it, but I need not lament. I need not lament its loss when I am elsewhere. If nirvana is now, that now includes the here. Nirvana is here. Wherever here is – Lincoln, Omaha, Denver, Fort Collins, Shambhala Mountain Center, Chicago, or places I’ve never been. Nirvana is there, too.
In a few short handfuls of hours we’ll be gone from here, headed east again. My class will drop me off in the small town of Kimball, Nebraska, where my father is coming to take me north to a family reunion at Fort Robinson in the northern Nebraska panhandle. It is the Sand Hills.
The Sand Hills are the one other place where I have felt the resonance of home. The small town of Valentine where my father grew up and I was shipped off to spend weeks with my grandparents during the summers is much as I remember it from those days. In the rolling dunes by Merritt Reservoir, I would walk over the low hills until the highway, the trees, the cabins, the lake all disappeared. I could believe a person lost in those hills could die of thirst, never knowing a lake lay a hundred feet beyond the next rise. The thought never frightened me. Someday I would like to bring Shambhala there, found a true Windhorse Center.
In the meantime, those dreams give way to now. A now I am seeing a bit more clearly. Seeing love which is really attachment, joy which turns to loss, reverence which is idealizing, and regret which could be turned to excitement.
I can go home and know Shambhala will be here when I return. I can go home without needing to know when I will return. Because I have come full circle and I’m none the worse for wear. I can choose to go through the pain of loss every time I leave, or the joy of simply knowing I can return.
I can go home knowing, letting go is not loosing.