Note: Since this is a continuation of the first post “Wondrous Souls,” I’ve begun with the last paragraph of that post to kick this one off. To try to keep you in the rhythm of the story without you having to refer back to that post.
I was blessed to run into a few of these shining Souls during my travels this past Summer. I’ve experienced bad ones as well, but that’s another story for another day. And if I’m choosing definitions, I take door number three, or at least a part of it – “emotional or intellectual energy or intensity.” But instead of this intensity being revealed in some other tangible art form, I would say this energy is, as definition number four implies, embodied in those people. I would equate these good Souls with Fine Art! Literally. Because meeting such people awakens something inside yourself and you make contact on an entirely different level.
Sometimes intensity is there, but not the energy, not the high frequency. Such was the case when I had the pleasure to meet four hikers when I was in Yosemite. Mine was a day-hike to the tops of Vernal and Nevada Falls. About a 10-mile round trip back to my camp. Their journey, from which they were returning, was a four-day, 70-mile excursion through the mountains, and they were intense and exhausted.
The Torchbearer of the group, who had outpaced the rest of the party and who clearly had no intention of letting them catch up, told me that they started out with six people but lost two along the way. Those two turned back as the elements were just too extreme for them to conquer with mental intention. And believe me, you have to have that strong mental resolve out in this wilderness.
It’s that cerebral drive, that will power, that steadfast motivation that will carry you past the point where the physical body submits, capitulates, no longer having the strength to proceed. Our Psyche must step in and overrule the Body to reject any physical boundaries and limitations. FN1
I did meet the other three Members of the Group and had the opportunity to talk with them as we would leap-frog along the trail. They’d be in front of me but when they paused to rest, I’d catch up and we’d continue the conversation as I passed them.
And on we went.
While I think all four had probably faced their Souls on this extreme corporeal adventure, only three came back as what you might say as being “baptized by fire” or had gained some realization of their “pneuma” or “atman.” The leader was enveloped with anger and frustration with the others, while the others, extremely weary, were still glowing with the enjoyment of the challenge. Those three had bonded and were radiating their joy, but not their leader. The main message this headman had confided with me was that he, “was never going to do this again.”
Once more, I was witnessing a form of that “psychomachy” – a conflict between Soul and Body. In this case, four survived the physical challenge, but only three found the degree of separation necessary to achieve clarity, to be enlightened, to glean a look at their Souls.
Don’t get me wrong, I sensed the Souls of all of these individuals and thoroughly enjoyed engaging with them and hearing about their travails in the wild. And I’d definitely place them all in the good Soul category. But I still didn’t quite bond with them as I have with others emitting different energies.
And I’ve found there are many different energies with Souls.
For example, I met Kris, and her husband Roy, when I stayed in the mountains in Carmel Valley. They were extremely kind-hearted people. Kris was a true Artist and bronze sculptor, and Roy was retired Military. While there was no razor’s edge intensity of trying to survive in the hinterlands, it was a respite for shining eudaimonic happiness. A type of contentment that few seem to encounter. A flourishing prosperity that compares to Aristotle’s vision of achieving the “highest human good.” Or as Plato was to have said, “perfection in respect of virtue.” FN2
They were emanating Soul Life.
Yes, I was blessed to make the acquaintance of these and other Souls along the way, and the one I felt I bonded with most, was Christine. I had the pleasure to meet her during my stay at Tahoe. One thing that set her apart from the hikers I described above, and from me of course, is that Christine was in a whole different league of hiker. In fact, she lived an entirely different lifestyle. She wasn’t a weekend explorer. She structured her life to be in a state of continuous exploration. Of breathing in all of the intensity of being on that Razor’s Edge. That Edge where the physical, emotional, and intellectual energy merges with the Passion of the Soul. A true, and continuous, Spirit Quest. FN3
She never a wasted heartbeat.
She worked remotely and traveled to taste the experiences of different communities, and once she had enough in savings to get her through to next remote gig, she was off into the Void. Among her many amazing feats, besides having served in the Peace Corps, she had hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. All 2,650 miles of it by hiking 25 miles per day. I personally can’t imagine such a triumph at the present time, where my body needs to take a day’s rest after a 10-to-15-mile day-hike.
And you have to try to visualize, hiking on that edge of intensity day-after-day-after-day.
Even though she was in a different league with her hiking and surviving abilities, I did have other life experiences to share and we essentially spent two days enthralled in each other’s tales. I can’t remember when I was so thoroughly engaged and joyful and totally immersed in conversation. How happy I was to get up in the morning, knowing the conversation would begin anew.
It was truly a trading of energies, and we painted images in each other’s minds with the words we spoke. And I believe revealed our Souls. Our true essence. FN4
That has a lasting effect on you. And it certainly has with me. It gives you hope for all of humanity.
One thing she told me about being on those long trails, like the PCT, the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail – known as the Big Three – you never have to explain yourself. FN5
Everyone on those trails has an innate understanding of the ardor of the Soul being activated there.
To be continued . . .
Photo: This pic is from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. If you look closely you will see both Vernal and Nevada Falls in the distance. that’s where I completed one of my hikes while in the Park, and where I met the four hikers I describe above. Yosemite is one of those Take-Your-Breath-Away places.
FN 1: Our “Psyche” has been defined as the human soul, mind, or spirit. It may be difficult to wrap all three of those into one, but soul and spirit are what I’m getting at here. And I’ve written about it before, but when one is on such a physical journey, the use of a Mantra can help your Psyche overcome your Body’s objections to continue. See my prior posts:
FN 2: This refers to the ancient concept of Stoic Ethics. And “Virtue” is regarded differently as it is viewed as living in harmony with Nature in a threefold structure: “(1) Living at one with our own true nature, as rational beings, with natural self-love, and without inner conflict, division, or tension. (2) Living at one, or harmoniously, with other people, even our “enemies”, by viewing ourselves as part of a single community or system. (3) Living at one with external events, by welcoming the Fate that befalls us, without complaint, fear, or craving for more.”
If you want further readings on this check out :
FN 3: Briefly, I wanted to differentiate between what I was referring to as a “Spirit Quest” versus a “Vision Quest.” A Vision Quest is a ceremonial rite of passage many of the First Nations Peoples practice, where after proper Shamanic and Elder preparation a member of the Tribe, usually an adolescent entering adulthood, stays in the wilderness at a sacred site for four days and nights. During this time, the participant fasts and and prays to open a door to the Spiritual World to experience a Spiritual Vision that will reveal their Soul Purpose for this lifetime, and may introduce the person to an “Animal Totem” that will remain a part of them for their entire Earthwalk.
What I’m referring to as a “Spirit Quest” is a similarly laborious journey into Nature, where a person pushes past their physical limitations to the point of where they make contact, or become one with, their own inner Spirit. This is different in that it doesn’t involve fasting, or waiting a prescribed time, or trying to directly commune with the entire “Spiritual World” or the “Ancients” or the “Grandfathers.” This Spirit Quest is one of inner awakening.
FN 4: An important note here. While intimate, the type of experience and bonding I’m referring to here is not of a sexual nature. There are many that believe that men and women cannot be friends. I call Bull Shit on that. There are many forms of friendships and just as many forms of intimacy. A love for a child is another example. As is the love for Nature. And I will add this too, while some might disagree, the intimacy of sharing a Spiritual Connection is far more powerful and passionate than the physical act of love making.
FN 5: These three trails are known as the Triple Crown of Hiking and to complete these trails, one must endure a combined 7,931 miles and 1,000,000 feet of vertical gains. Apparently, there is a saying, “Embrace the Brutality,” that tries to capture the rigor of taking on this trifecta of Spirit Voyages.
Christine told me about the intensity of making such a hike. The human body undergoes a metamorphosis. The metabolic rate goes into hyper-drive and the hikers may need to consume 8,000 to 10,000 calories a day simply to replenish and maintain body weight. Christine told me that this was particularly hard for males since they usually have less fat reserves, and the men on the trail were often emaciated and resorted to eating whole sticks of butter and drinking olive oil, just trying to keep from wasting away.
If you don’t come face-to-face with your Spirit on such a hike, then you must not have one. 🙂