The Wilderness Within (Part 5: West)

Oh, Wild West…
You leave me facing myself.
You terrify me!
You astound me!
You simply let me see my Self.

To be honest, I was extremely nervous for the West Walk…specifically the part about finding darkness and talking to it. I just had a feeling going into the night that it was going to power transformation in some way.

In a way, the West walk started before we even left when I made my rhythm instrument. I used to have a buffalo drum. I was so in love with playing it but was living out of my car last year and didn’t have space so it went to a friend. I didn’t have anything that I could think of at home. A few days before this, I had some things brought up to me from my parents’ house in Gilbert. Along with a bunch of warmer clothing, I also had a craft supplies box. As I was unpacking this care package from home, I noticed that I had a box of plastic jewels. These are the type of jewels that are flat on one side, jewel-y on the other, and sparkling like a mermaid’s tail. Bingo! They rattled so nicely in their little box. All I needed was a little tape to seal them in and I was all set. This little task ended up being me decorating the outside of the jewel box with multiple colors of tape. It may seem like a childish, pointless part of the process, but it actually was the first intentional step to the West Walk.

Fast forward to the start of the rhythm circle. I’ve always felt drawn to drumming. Back when I played soccer, sometimes we’d practice at a high school during the same time that the drum line was rehearsing. As I got older, I started listening to Hardstyle music (a sub-genre of techno) and felt drawn to the faster paced rhythmic 150 beats per minute found here.

Drumming with other people seems like one of the best ways to connect with someone else. Yet at the same time, we all tap into something new. The music becomes our connection point rather than playing directly with the people next to use. I actually tried to do this but it made me lose my rhythm. I very easily started to sink in and release. I used a hand drum and the jewel box rattle that I made intermittently, though sometimes at the same time.

While in the rhythm circle, I started to feel my body dissolving away. Everything still worked fine, but focus shifted from the physical to predominantly just awareness. My physical boundaries felt transient and subtler.

Before I knew it I was leaving. I never thought to leave; I was just standing up, turning around, and making my way up the hill to the path to carry on with my night. I played as I walked away from the circle, keeping up with the rhythm as long as I could hear. I walked south into the darkness. It was a welcoming, safe darkness though. My intention was to walk about 10-15 minutes down the path and then migrate up to a hill to get a better view of the night sky. This plan was quickly cut off though. A few minutes into my walk I noticed a cluster of younger ponderosas off the path. Basically…DARKNESS. I looked away and went back to searching for my perfect stargazing spot.


Nope. That wasn’t the overall goal of the night. I laughed at the irony and turned left towards Darkness to immediately be greeted with a perfect rock to sit on. The welcoming was too obvious. I sat down and introduced myself. It was a shallow conversation at first until I really sunk into the spot.

Darkness is always there to hear whatever I have to say or ask, and whatever I choose to withhold. I kept on imagining the terrible things that could happen to me: someone jumping out of the darkness and attacking me, something lashing out at my face…

I quickly became aware that I was the source of any harm that I perceived. I would non-visually hallucinate things jumping out at me. Sometimes my face flinched by the realness of it. I was left in a void. I projected insecurities and threats into that space. Is this the fragmented West making itself known?

My homework to myself is to be more curious and accepting of Darkness. On a day-to-day level, this is found when I walk past a dark room in my house at nighttime and consciously avoid looking in that area. When I notice I do that, I stand in place for a few breaths, slowly turn to face the dark room and look into it for a little bit, then I slowly turn back around and make my way to where I was originally going.

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Mark Twain

This quote speaks to me about the relationship between fragmented and whole West psyche. If my fragmented West is taking over, I see things trying to attack me (similar to what I was experiencing during the West walk). When my whole West is present, I see the truth and inner beauty through the lens of curiosity. It is an esoteric path that is terrifying and terrific, awful and awesome. Maybe not exactly these words…but the West shakes up my logic.





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