And so when I arrived late the first day, the Tribe was standing in an enclosed circle that parted ways to welcome me in. My appreciation of my own resilience and resolve to keep going—drive, with a check engine light on, and still show up, was slightly replaced by the regret over what I had missed.
The words, the writing, their deepened human connection.
And when I left that day, alongside the setting sun tracking west over the ocean and a compostable to-go box full of vegan food beside me on the seat, it was coupled with the regret that I wasn’t staying there that night, in the nurtured embrace of that verdant land. Instead, driving back the way I came, an hour and a half away, with an orange check engine light still lit up, telling me that tightening the gas cap had proved to provide no relief.
As I drove, there was this foreboding feeling around what it would mean for the next day’s journey.
I was afraid I was breaking the container. The moving in and out, arriving late, and the trouble was, I had already fallen in love with them. The pieces of them that welcomed me in without question, the way that teaches us how to do that more deeply for ourselves. Even the parts of us that are still learning how to stay.
The looming hills held me in a way that provided an unparalleled safety with their mossy surface, like a nestling into oneself. That leaning into the land. Craggy shoreline with an uneven fence mapping its unwavering outline.
My own back and forth body and mind had become exhausting to myself. And when I turned the car on the next morning, met again with a silent but radiating orange engine light, I knew I needed to pick one.
Stay or Go. Re-ground, re-settle, reestablish my own base camp.
I knew I’d feel a sense of loss over whichever one I left behind. Pieces of me resonating with both the more civilized structure in the valley, and the more savage space located in the rolling hills a few 50 miles away. And as I looked in both directions, I knew I didn’t want to leave any parts of myself behind.
And when I made the decision to stay, there was an unequivocal and unexpected rival for the disappointment: a sense of relief. Like the ocean breaking white open against the cliffs, relieved that they still have work to do. That they don’t have everything in this earthen life figured out already. Like that way tension and conflict have of creating the space for us to continue to unfold.