After leaving the Seneca Reservation around noon (heheh, the Lighthouse Inn checkout time was a ridiculous 10am), I had breakfast at Tom's Family Diner next door. Everything has gravy on it here. I mean, the gravy is smothered in gravy. So I had an omelette with gravy and tons of coffee and home fries, and then paid $4.50 for the privilege of getting back on I-90 toward the East Coast.
It was cloudy all day today while I was driving, but there were only a few sprinkles here and there. I'd checked the Mini's oil and water levels back at the hotel and was dismayed to discover that the engine compartment is now a mess! Back in California, I'd kept it really clean, using a toothbrush to get into the tight spots over a few beers in my driveway, but now I wonder, what with the rain and winter and such out here, how in God's name am I supposed to keep the Mini clean, much less the engine?
I think I'm going to have some adjustments to make. Perhaps a few.
I passed by the exits to my dad's house, as instructed, but called in the afternoon to see if they were back from the ER yet. Turns out he has a pinched nerve in his neck. They'd waited from 9am to 9pm in the ER to be told he has a pinched cervical nerve and that he should go home and take a Motrin. I mentioned they might want to try acupuncture, as it's really great for correcting and relieving the pain of impingement. He mentioned he'd be seeing his doctor on Monday and would ask about that. OK, Dad.
So. I practiced my mantra that goes like this: "Not my stuff, not my stuff, not my stuff." While you say it, you run your hands down your arms and your legs and the top of your hand, clearing away the destructive energy of oh-so-stuck-ness. That routine helps me a lot. As an empath, I've found myself tempted to rescue people my whole life, occasionally turning them into my little projects. In my 40s, I started to realize that I wasn't helping them. In fact, I was harming them, and myself. While I was (ineffectively) trying to save them from experiencing the natural effects of their own decisions, I was also neglecting the inner work I desperately needed to do to find equilibrium and peace--to understand myself.
Besides, who are we to decide what paths people should be taking? If a person wants to kill themselves with crack (or alcohol, or sleeping with everybody, or overworking), who am I to tell them not to? How can I know they're not experiencing the very thing they came here to learn? Can we provide unconditional love to someone while staying out of their business? Yes. And that's really the only thing that ever heals anyway.
I could go on about that.
A few hours later, the landscape changed again dramatically. I found myself surrounded by even deeper, emerald-green woods, interspersed with ancient-looking, stacked layers of rock forming outcrops and showing in passes cut through the hills.
As the miles passed, there were tons of gorgeous but falling down old barns and endless fields lying fallow. It looked like everyone had gone from their properties, but once in a while there'd be a horse in someone's yard, or a dog and chickens wandering around. It was so beautiful, but reminded me of some of the ghost towns I'd gone through back West. Where have all the people gone?
Coming into a little town called Canistota, New York, I suddenly saw a sign announcing that the International Boxing Hall of Fame was at the next exit. I had to pay $8.50 to get off the highway this time. What the shit? But I was determined to go. Having left behind my beloved boxing gym in San Luis Obispo, California, where I'd trained Muay Thai and done intense conditioning off and on for a few years until my hip hurt too much, I still love watching the fights and learning from the greats. I walked up to the Hall's front doors, where a sign announced the place had closed 20 minutes earlier, but the door was still open and I heard people talking, so I went in.
A tall man named Ed greeted me and said the center was closed, but that I could look around while he was closing up. Here are some of the things I saw.
I got to talking with Ed after his friends left. Turns out he's a big yoga fan. It's helping him a lot with his aches and pains and letting him get back to his running. I mentioned I teach yoga (well, my version of it, anyway), and he started peppering me with questions. For the next half-hour we practiced yoga among the displays at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Some more of his friends came in ("Ed! Ed! Oh. What're you doing?"), but he kept asking me more questions about how to do certain poses, and why can't he ever sit cross-legged, and am I doing this twist right 'cuz I don't feel any twisting. I've never met a more eager learner, and started wondering about just what kind of instruction he was receiving in this little town.
Back on the road, I spent the remaining drive listening to Terry Gross on her show "Fresh Air," on National Public Radio. She totally does what I do. She asks people questions and draws them out and gets them talking about things, going much deeper than a regular interview. The only difference is she makes money doing it. I'm pondering how to make it work for me, too. Offers and constructive advice happily accepted.
Finally I reached my friend Liz's house. We'd gone to college together in the late 80s, so we hadn't seen each other in 30 years. I'd left for California right after graduation, and aside from Facebook, we hadn't talked in years, either. So here comes Liz out of her beautiful home on a wild-forever swamp in Queensbury (yes, boxing fans, that Queensbury!) and we started laughing. She's one of those friends where you just pick up again. God, we got in a lot of trouble in college!
Right now, the house is full of Liz and her husband Michael's five kids and their friends, all home for summer break before dispersing to their various responsibilities and pastimes. We had a big, wonderful dinner and then Liz and I sat in the hot tub for a while overlooking the swamp. Lightning bugs wafted through the soft, humid woods.
Wow. Thirty years is a long time. I can't believe how fast it's gone.