Sunday, October 14, 2012


"The mountains are calling and I must go." — John Muir

Visualization can be a powerful tool for coping with grief, stress, anxiety, or pain. One commonly prescribed technique, if you are dealing with heavy emotions, is to visualize yourself in a place you have been: a locale where you've felt optimistic and at peace with the world. Tahoe is my happy place, it is sacred to me, and I often visit this particular vista with my mind's eyes. Imagination isn't always enough, though; sometimes a pilgrimage is in order.

Pilgrims make their journeys for any number of reasons: as a way to seek out moral or spiritual higher ground, as penance for sins (imagined or real), as a sign of devotion, or in the hopes of some relief, some cure, miraculous or otherwise. Or maybe (if you're really whacked) all of the above, all at once. Which explains my presence in this spot, at this moment.

Lake Tahoe embodies a mythically majestic landscape, borne out of the earth by tectonic plate shifts, long-extinct volcanoes, and snow; it's a place where matter and magic mix. I've felt the alchemy here: the somber weight of losing a loved one and standing on the dock, pushing off that barque towards its long journey elsewhere, the star-encrusted bliss of a love-laden kiss, the precious gold of memories. Injuries survived. Milestones. Rites of Passage. Treasure found. Joy.

Dear Universe, I no doubt have plenty of karmic comeuppances headed my way, but please, here in this moment, grant me solace and serenity. Mom would have turned 69 today; she loved this mystical mountainscape and always insisted that "believing is seeing." And though I am but a humble pilgrim, I still believe in miracles...

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