Returning to Shambhala feels like I never left. Even with the little things which have changed - new flags in the dining hall, new faces in the kitchen, a new fence by the smoking section - it could be the day of August 22, 2007 and I never made that long drive back to Nebraska on the 21st. The bench I like to sit on in the courtyard is still there, under the ponderosa by the mail room. Ed is still a furry grey lump asleep in his bed next to the mail boxes and Tiger still comes right up to stake out a place on my lap.
It's so quiet here. I drove up the long highways from Boulder, through Longmont and Loveland and Fort Collins, they took the long way in up the Poudre Canyon with the Poudre River rushing beside me and the steep forested walls rising around me. I listed to NPR, even as I turned up the steep, winding dirt road from Rustic, but when I pulled into the parking lot, turned off the car and stepped out, it was like entering another dimension, suddenly and undeniably. The sun and wind and mountain were all that existed in that moment. Bright light, rising landscape, and a soft wind in the grass, the trees, making the prayer flags flutter and snap. No radio, no cars, no sound of people.
The straw cowboy hat came back out, to protect against the bright, high altitude sun. This morning it is in the fifties, but I dress like it is the seventies and bask in nature's original microwave oven. I hugged and helloed and smiled. I walked up to the stupa after lunch, then down to the pastures.
Some things have changed. Sylvan trusts me enough to bring the horses down by myself. When he got off work we saddled and bridled them and went for a two hour ride in the back country behind the Kami Shrine, National Forest Service Land. Magic and I struggled a bit, until we found each other's measure. He stopped tossing his head, chewing on the bit arm, and being lazy, and I stopped pulling on the reins and kicking him. I rode English which is so much more comfortable than a western saddle. That was more exercise than I've had in quite a while, but I hope it will become a regular thing.
Every time I come here, I think to myself "It would be so easy to stay. All I'd have to do is not go. It's be so easy..." Sometimes I don't know what it is that drives me to leave, ambition or ego or dissatisfaction. Yes, being here is easy, but it's not challenging. I'm not being challenged when I'm here - and I'm not challenging others. I feel like staying here would be compromising my plan to "save the world." I don't feel like here is the place I can make the greatest contribution - but is that just my ego talking? Maybe, but it's more than that too. So today I'll go back down to Boulder and tomorrow I'll go back to work and in three months I'll go back to school.
But I'll always come back here.