Guest post from Bonnie Lamont. Bonnie has posted poetry on the VTH in the past. She lives as a vibrant 70-something in Bend, Oregon.
Letting Go, and the Slippery Slope to Truth….
Four years ago I began a determined quest for truth, in a bitterly cold and bleak winter month. I had designated this month as time to write an autolysis – to write down what I knew to be true and to be false, what I could prove was real, beyond my senses, and my experience of this knowing. During that month, I let go of any ‘thing’ – any activity, any doing – that had the purpose of feeding my ego, and went on a writing rampage against my ego. I left no room for the ego’s survival. I was looking for the no-thing, the One, that which was God – that which spiritual paths point toward….
However, my month’s writings ended with the realization that there was one thing I would not let go
of – my son, my ego’s image of him, and our special relationship. There was a strong gut pull to keep the
blinders on and see this Mark, this son in my ego’s eye, as some-body that I could love as special, and who would see me as a special some-body. Thus, my quest for realization ended, unfinished, so I imagined, at least. The picture I drew on the last written page of my book is of me over the edge of the cliff, holding onto one tiny little branch, refusing to let go, and the words ‘LET GO, BONNIE…’ The branch, of
course, was Mark as I wanted to experience him. That was the last image in my book…
In the last month, a single word has been following me around, haunting my go-ings and do-ings and be-ings. And that word is ‘Further,’
‘Further, Bonnie…’ With this there has been a draw to revisit my quest writings. And so I typed the writing into a Word document. Turned out it is 20 pages long, almost a book in itself.
So, I have begun to let ‘further’ take me…further into the waking dream. And here is the first result…
This last weekend my son, Mark’s, father planned a river trip for the three of us and his wife. On day two, we stopped for a fu ll day, to enjoy the river. Everyone, at the same time, decided to hike, one back into a canyon, one along the beach, and my son, Mark, up, up, up, the side of the mountain. I decided to follow Mark up the mountain, even though he warned me that he would be going fast. I assured him I’d just start with him and then would go my own way, which I did.
At 10:30am we began our trek up the hill. There really wasn’t any path through the cheat grass and broken shale along the very
dry desert cliff sides, just a bit of an animal track which was easy to follow up, up, across, and up. I soon lost track of Mark as he scampered up the steep incline. Each time I would get to a place where I could rest and view the river, I’d enjoy the view for just a moment and then
head up to the next landing for an even better view. Somehow I thought I was following the path that Mark had taken and that I would see him on the way down and could follow him back down….but I was very wrong.
The eagle’s eye view of the winding river below was more and more spectacular the farther up I went. A bit before noon I began to
realize I was very tired and was also very high up the side of this dry cliff side, raw except for some cheat grass and lots of broken shale that had
avalanched down the slope.
Time to go back and get more water and lunch. But why had I not passed Mark on his way down? As I began to contemplate my
descent, it became clear to me that from the up side of this cliff, not a single sign of a path was visible and everything looked the same – steep,
shear, and precarious drop offs. What had I done? I could see camp far below along one curve of the river, the boats and tents pea size on the tiny river outcropping.
I began to work my way back across the series of rolling canyon walls as they wound in and out. Each inward roll of the canyon wall
was filled with broken shale I had to maneuver across in order not to slip with it down the avalanche path, and at each outcrop of the canyon wall, nothing but clumps of dry grass that had somehow managed to gain a firm hold along the steep incline. I worked my way across each, digging footholds through the shale or holding onto my new friends – clumps of desert grass. By 1:30 I was exhausted and had spent much of my time moving forward, coming to a dead end drop off with nothing to hold onto, and arduously going back the way I had just been, trying another tack across and down.
By 2:30pm my legs simply would not hold me any longer and I could find no safe place to rest as each foothold gave way and the edge of the cliff became a bigger and bigger threat to my tired body. I was long out of water and hungry and hot. I began to consider what it would be like to just let go, fall, and rest at the bottom of the steep rocky slope. Would I actually become airborne if I let go or would I just roll down? Would I just bruise or would something break? This began to seem like a pretty good option, as my fear increased and my strength lessened. All I could think of was rest.
Finally, leveraging one foot against a bit of cheat grass to keep me from going over the edge of the cliff, I started to cry and realized I had to call for help, as much as I didn’t want to. My first calls for help were wimpy, since yelling for help, directly, is quite foreign
to me. Then, real terror set in, and the screams came from some place really deep within, ‘HELP!!!’ ‘HELP!!!’ Piercing screams!
I could see a camp across and down the river, and the little ant people there didn’t change their activities when I yelled, making me realized the river’s roar was likely drowning out my calls. So I set out again, but now this new sense of terror had me talking aloud to myself, starting forward, then inching back on my butt, making a bit of progress, then backtracking to my last secure foothold. I kept screaming, off
and on, when I found a foothold.
And what was going on all this time back at camp…?
When everyone else came back from their hikes, hours ago, someone asked where I was, and it was decided that I must be resting in my tent. Lunch was made and everyone went on with their relaxing day – fishing, swimming, reading… By 2:30, someone suggested it was strange
that I would be sleeping my day away, but no one checked my tent. When I began to scream for help, someone asked, “Is that an eagle?”
Then silence for awhile, then the screams again.
It was Mark who finally had the shocking realization that something was very wrong…. According to his Dad, he leaped up, ran to
unzipped my tent, saw I wasn’t there, and ran back to say that I was the one screaming and it was a scream for help.
Everyone went into fast gear. Since it was unclear where the screams were coming from, with the echo effect of the canyon
walls, Mark’s Dad went up the canyon, and Mark took off in a run up, up, up, the way he had seen me go originally.
I’m told he ran the whole mile up and across until he crested the hill where he could see me in the distance. The
first words he yelled to me were, ‘Are you hurt or are you okay?’ Well,…this didn’t leave room for the real
answer, so I just said I was okay. From there he worked his way back out of sight again and over the many remaining steep
slopes until he reached me, which seemed an eternity.
When he finally was there, in front of me, I was able to let go some, and feel all the terror and I cried uncontrollably, unable even to catch my breath, until I was further spent. I tried to explain, through my sobs, that even though Mark was with me now, I had no chance of making it back, because my legs couldn’t hold me up and wouldn’t stop the inevitable fall, only now I would just carry him over the cliff with me.
Now…Mark, if you don’t know him, is a pretty amazing guy under stress. I’ve never experienced before, in any other human, the degree of calm that comes over him when he is faced with chaos. In his softest, most soothing voice, he assured me he would not let me fall – he would be my legs, he would hold my hand all the way – and would also not let himself fall. After I calmed a little, I got up onto my shaky
legs and used his energy and strength to guide my body across the slopes and down, cliff edge by cliff edge. We did slip and slide a bit, and there were still precarious moments. But through it all, he only let go of my hand when I was secure and he needed to scout out the best path forward. I was so completely exhausted that, at each point where I could rest both legs even for a minute, I would beg him to please just leave me there for a couple of hours to rest and to come back for me later. But, no, he knew better and on we went, trembling legs and all, until finally only my arm had any strength, and with his arm strength against my arm, we continued until finally even my arm began to tremble.
But Mark was so careful, so kind, so full of loving energy, that the space between us collapsed and only pure loving energy was there to take us down the canyon wall to safety and rest. His strength made up for my lack of strength.
Mark’s Dad and his wife met us along the trail, and Ken took over holding me up. Back in camp, now after 3:00 pm, I ate, drank
and finally did go to my tent to rest. From that time until Mark left for Nepal a couple of days ago, there was nothing between
us but pure loving energy – it was palpable.
Back home, as I sat with this experience, not even having the wisdom to contemplate its meaning, a women friend happened
to say, while explaining something in her life, that it had been ‘a slippery slope,’ and a light-bulb went off, just like that, and I got it! There it was in front of me – the picture in my book superimposed against this recent dream state experience. How deeply profound!
Beyond my mind’s image exists my real son, a being of pure loving energy. I’ve gone way far enough down the slippery
slope, holding myself back from the edge with a crazy ‘idea’ of separation. My mind made up a very clever way to keep me
from ending my search for truth. My ego told me I had to let go of my son in order to be free. Now I
see that, beyond a mental image, there is nothing to let go of. If I allow myself, right now, I can tap into
the true essence that defines Mark, beyond the time and space of Mark in a body, in Nepal. I can tap into that
raging purity of the loving heart. And here, in this space, I find that Mark is not a ‘thing’ at all, or even an
‘idea’ to be let go of, but is instead an immense gift – my savior. And here, in this space of pure love, I am
free to remember that the choice is always there – to see anything in front of
me through the ego’s eye as an unreal image, or to tap into the essence of love
and to experience the truth of the One without separation. From the truth of the One, without boundaries,
what could there possibly be to let go of?