Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Long Journey

Along Highway 1, near Big Sur, California. This is me standing at the base of one of the most curious land features along this highway.

Many people come to the Esalen Workshops in order to put their experiences into a context. They want to express their pain without being trite or luridly confessional.

During my workshops, I saw people dealing with all the aspects of the human experience with perseverence, courage, and dignity. I saw people laugh (great celebratory laughter) and I saw them weep at what they had written. It all happened in the most supportive atmosphere I have ever experienced.

Big Sur is an excellent setting for writing because so much of what is going on in the landscape mirrors our own interior journey. The ocean and the rocks are important symbols of experience; however I found this roadside phenomenon to be most characteristic of people's experience at Esalen. This is not stone; it is a mixture of sand, clay, and small stones, shaped by the wind and the rain. It crumbles easily and yet it has a deceptive appearance of solidity. This geographical feature is right next to the highway, and it makes me recall one of my favorite poems by Theodore Roethke:


In the long journey out of the self,
There are many detours, washed-out interrupted raw places
Where the shale slides dangerously
And the back wheels hang almost over the edge
At the sudden veering, the moment of turning.
Better to hug close, wary of rubble and falling stones. ...


--excerpted from "Journey Into the Interior" by Theodore Roethke

1 comment:

ggw07 said...

Of course, even at Big Sur, you would find the sharpest, most unique image.
Gretchen

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