Sometimes shutting down the mind is the only way to truly learn where you direction will take you. The path is there, already laid out and we are given signposts along our journey that indicate a good idea. You can’t see them if you over-think. You can’t see them if you stay too busy to look up and scan for them. But every now and again when you least expect it, crazy will knock on your door and you need to listen.
You need to act.
Why else would the universe present you such an opportunity. Most times, the only fare you will pay for the adventure is the word yes.
More often than not, something will cross my path that had the shimmer to it. Like a slick metallic lure to a barracuda, it looks different somehow, standing out against the normal day to day crap one usually comes across.
Lately I’ve noticed that the best signs are the ones that have a deadline. Recently I was having lunch with one of my great new-old friends (one of those people you just meet and can’t imagine how you lived so long without having known them) and she mentioned the exhibition application for a museum solo show. I knew that the museum picked its artists well in advance, but had no idea when they chose applicants for the next year. It stuck with me – kind of hovering in my mind space, bobbing back and forth into my stream of thoughts. When I got home I went to the museum’s website. The deadline was in three days.
I applied right then and there and got the call that I was accepted a few weeks later. Something about my friend mentioning it – even just casually over coffee – had that Sparkle I knew I wasn’t supposed to ignore. I was chosen and have an upcoming solo museum show to look forward to. I remember promising my teenage self that someday my art would hang in a museum. A big shout out for having long term goals and acting on shiny sign posts.
The Oracle. As is typical when following your flow, weird shit happens. On one particularly weird day, I found myself flying to Seattle to go see an Oracle.
Yup. The real deal.
Here was a guy that actually smelled like rose petals when he began to summon the Oracle personality. I still don’t exactly know how it all fell into my lap. I was deeper than deep into debt and living like a hermit in a one room apartment when I got a call from a family friend. She was going to an island off the coast of Washington to see an Oracle. I had no idea what an Oracle did or was even. And I knew that traveling wasn’t really where I was ready to allocate my funds at the moment seeing as how my last eight or so meals were ramen noodles. But the hotel on the island was paid for, I would just be rooming with the woman. The price of the event was finagled into trade for some graphic design work, and the cost of the flight….? The next day I received a check in the mail from a mail in rebate I had forgotten that I sent away for. It covered all but $100 of the trip.
Was I really going to do this? My brain said no. My heart said yes. I went.
A few weeks later, the day of the trip arrived. I found myself on a flight to Seattle with the family friend who turned out to be a truly unusual travel partner. This woman was almost twice my age, pretty abrasive to begin with, and while she was neck deep in the woo-woo side of new age, she was also using all her off hours to work on her most recent vindictive lawsuit against her ex-husband. I don’t know how both of those ideals can be present in one person – but here she was ordering oysters for us at an amazing waterfront bar in Seattle, a city I had always wanted to see.
A few hours later we were on a ferry crossing the breathtaking Puget Sound on the way to an island retreat bed and breakfast, flanked on all sides by misty parades of treelined shores. If this wasn’t the Oracle, I didn’t know what could be. There is a connection to be found in nature so deep you can simply fall in and float along, feeling the rhythms of the earth move your body for you down the greatest river of life. It is easy to be swept to tears when you truly see it – not just opening your eyes, but your heart. A reverse waterfall where energy pours in instead of out.
It was there, sopping up my life force into its own. Even in that bitter wind on the ferry deck, I was comfortably lulled into something of a trance by the ocean against the hull.
The facility was its own slice of heaven. The trees and water views from every angle made me so happy, this Oracle guy could be Bobo the Clown for all I cared. This space – this island – was my Oracle.
Hours later, after all the group members had checked in, a motley crew of local woodland gypsies, international answer seekers, guru groupies and a handful of Los Angeles yoga-teacher-types gathered in a wide white room with windows that stretched floor to ceiling overlooking our rocky little cove.
A light rain dripped from the ancient greenery, clouds hung on the water, tea was served, and the Oracle entered. I was unimpressed and turned back to the view beyond the window watching the sun drift towards setting somewhere between our clouds and those of our neighboring island. The gathering was called to begin. The Oracle took a seat in a large overstuffed chair. The audience sat at his feet on the beige carpeted floor, strewn with pillows and cushions. I found a nice purple fringe cushion and listened to the rain through his voice, felt the warmth of the mug in my hands and wondered if they had wi-fi.
To this day, I don’t remember what he looked like, what his name was, what he stood for. But I remember the smell of roses. And I remember the chanting. Three days we spent on the island in and out of silent meditation, feeling the washes of vibrational chanting massage my nerves and dipping my toes into the chill and stoney tide pools during break.
The definition of insanity is supposedly doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Doing something different – this different – charged my happy place for months. I saw a city I had always wanted to see, stretched my comfort zone by traveling a piece of my life journey with a very unlikely travel partner, got a good healthy dose of the life flow energy that moves through natural surroundings that breathtaking to confront, and I learned a lesson from an Oracle.
The group time was very intense at the gathering. People had questions about life and death, they wanted to talk to loved ones that had transcended the mortal coil. They wanted to know why bad things had happened to them or how to deal with great struggle and core-shattering illnesses. I wasn’t there for that. I wasn’t even that interested in talking to the Oracle, I just wanted to be there and experience the pure weirdness factor of the gathering.
The anticipation of asking the Oracle a question grew by the hour. We would all be able to ask our one question in the final afternoon before we departed to go home. The morning of the last day, the Oracle and his entourage were sitting in the main dining area when we walked in for breakfast. They invited us to sit with them. Talk tossed back and forth about the weather, flight schedules, the island, just normal people having breakfast together. In the middle of my first sip of green tea, the Oracle asked me what question I would be asking. The table stopped its conversation.
The Oracle was a normal guy until he did this summoning thing where he connected with the Oracle force. Once he connected, his voice got very slow and deep and he gave off this crazy smell of roses. Like out of nowhere. Because I had already seen some of it, I knew I was just sitting here talking to “Oracle Normal Guy” as opposed to “Oracle Not Normal Guy”. When I looked up at all the faces around the table waiting to hear my answer, I was was struck by how not important one question was to me. I told him that. I told him that I was just happy to be here and that I didn’t exactly have a specific question to ask. That I came not knowing about it. He smiled and we all finished breakfast.
At the last gathering session the group took turns asking their questions. They were very deep, the group cried and cheered for each other as our flower-scented audio fortune cookies were received. I was hoping that if I didn’t raise my hand to ask a question we would just adjourn without fuss. But when everyone was finished the Oracle turned and looked at me. I was struck by how blue his eyes were. I might simply not have noticed before, but damn, it was as if those puppies were backlit.
He/She/It smiled at me and called out to me by name. I walked over to the Oracle’s chair and got the feeling I was supposed to kneel down for a secret. Once beside the chair on the floor the Oracle said simply “continue to follow the signs and never again for a minute feel like you are alone.”
Feelings of connection come periodically – sign-post moments that can best be described as T.A.R.D.I.S vibes. The item you are looking at (like a seemingly innocent police call box) is a simple every day object and at the same time something bigger.
Like holding a ring box that gives you the feeling there might be an elephant inside, or even that moment when you wonder why you are so hung up on an event or an speaker.
It just won’t seem to let go, and yet, it’s just a speaker at a college on a topic that vaguely sounds interesting. Then why do you keep thinking about it? Why does it seem like every newspaper you open have a ad about it. Or why do you keep thinking you are hearing that person’s name.
Stop thinking and go wherever you are being called to go. You won’t know why it is sticking with you until you get there.
I don’t know why the Oracle singled me out. The dude could be a total fraud. But I said yes to an experience unlike any other and my personal energy grew a zillion times over because of it.
On a side note, that woman I traveled with has since died. She was a difficult woman, gaining in venom as she grew older, eventually letting it consume her from the inside out. She eventually lost her house, rejected her family, and became unidentifiable in spite and madness. I may have been the last person who spent time with her in a positive and open adventure. I wonder if wherever her spirit has gone remembers our amazing oyster lunch in down-town Seattle and the magnificence of the island retreat.
Just another reason I am glad I said yes.
[ From the upcoming book SPARK, www.Julianneblack.com]
Julianne Black, Author • Designer • Artist • #SCBWI & #IAN1 twitter.com/4jblack
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