Since leaving New Mexico, I’ve driven some 3,330 miles through Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, bringing me to Tennessee. How fortunate to feel and breathe in the colors of the rocks, desert, clouds, and vibrant clusters of foliage using every color on the palette.
During Covid, some are carrying out in varying degrees what Hafiz wrote:
“There are not many teachers in this world who can give you
as much enlightenment in one year—as sitting all alone for three days
in your closet would do. That means no leaving . . .”
People ask me, and I wonder myself, “What’s this drive-about about?” The urgency to pack up, sell or give away half the house and beloved books and LEAVE by October 1 came abruptly at the end of six months of hiding from Covid-19 and at the end of 9-weeks of shingles, where I literally lost my mind from the pain, narcotics, and isolation. On the surface, the impulse to go on drive-about seemed to come from madness or escapism. But I am discovering other Calls with time.
In the house I rented for the last three years, I was grateful to have an art studio which allowed me to make many paintings. But I hated looking at the gray cinderblock wall twelve feet away. I painted the cinderblock heather blue; it improved the color, but it didn’t create more space. Painting the cinderblock was as futile as trying to dig a tunnel under it with a spoon (to the neighbor’s house); I still felt trapped.
It is hard to describe how the meditative silence and vast empty space for hundreds of miles through Utah became my internal landscape. Watching red tail hawks glide over the endless wheat fields of Kansas; I’d never been in Kansas but I think I may winter in Lawrence or Abilene to finish a book I’m co-writing. In Topeka, I loved spending time at Tim McHenry’s Airbnb. He was a great host, and I entirely fell in love with his beautiful therapy dog, Cheyenne. She goes to the library to listen to children read books aloud; their reading skills improve. She visits the sick; here, she is dressed in her white shark costume for her Halloween visits at the hospital.
Even though I’ve been alone on the drive-about, I never feel lonely. It’s impossible to feel “trapped” with ever changing landscapes. A favorite morning in Sedona, I waded in the creek and fell asleep on her bank in Crescent Moon Park. Driving the I-70 through Colorado’s western slope was hours of breathtaking beauty; I was at once reveling in the beauty, being hyper-alert for… was it only 12 miles! (vowing I would never retake this path). The whole time I was in awe of what it must have taken to construct this highway (completed in 1992); it is recognized as an engineering masterpiece. I looked it up; check it out: https://www.codot.gov/about/CDOTHistory/50th-anniversary/interstate-70/glenwood-canyon
I met up with Nancy Elfenbaum in St. Louis. We first met years ago in the old Birthing From Within workshops and became friends, but hadn’t seen one another for at least 13 years. We caught up walking through a beautiful park. I told her how part of me had become jaded in the last few years, and I am seeking to reclaim, to abide in joy. She put “Joy Hunter” as a caption to photos she sent. Yes. Joy Hunting. That is another thing this drive-bout is about.
In the past week, I learned my blood cancer is not “under control.” I’ve just started taking another chemo drug, which may help. Knowing that this change puts me at even higher risk for Covid-19, it is hard for me to understand or forgive myself for letting my self-care guard down in Georgia. On the drive to Knoxville (where I am waiting for test results), I had time to listen within and take inventory of long-held agreements that allowed me to let my guard down. Perhaps this drive-about is the Call that makes all heroes leave “home,” the Call to “Knowing Thy Self,” the call to self-Love. I will share this inner-landscape of my drive-about with you in the next blog.
In-Love, I am,
P.S. I’m still working while on the road, teaching, leading birth story sessions, sending books, and writing.