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Truth or Consequences


I've been referring to this trip variously as a vision quest, a leg of my spiritual journey, a detour on my spiritual journey, a silly indulgence I've wanted to do all my life, and an art project. It's probably more meaningful to say that trying to define it would tend to defeat its purpose. When you explore, you don't know what you'll find, and sometimes you don't even know what you're looking for. I know I'm not exploring for oil deposits, but I might be looking for something I sometimes refer to as my center. "I need to get centered," I've said sometimes when I've been out of whack and not functioning smoothly.

Maybe there's a difference between "getting centered," which I manage to do sometimes, and actually "finding your center," in the sense of gaining some knowledge of where it is, what it looks like, what resides there. If you can actually locate it (and I realize I'm not even defining what your "center" even is) maybe it would be possible to reside there for a period of time, become more familiar with it and its contents, if contents there are, and end up knowing how to find your way back there more easily in the future.

There's a practical side to this. As you all know, I'm a writer. But being a writer is a vastly different thing from what it was when I decided to become one. This journey I'm about to take might end up helping to update who I am. That is, I might be able to operate in closer proximity to the real world, as opposed to the world of decades and decades ago, when publishing, literature, authoring, writing -- all these words meant something different from what they mean today. If I'm updated, who knows what that might mean? Not necessarily that I'll get on board with the current scene, because I might choose not to; I might choose some of it but not other parts of it. All I can really hope for is to find that center of me, get comfortable and quiet there so I can look around, and maybe amongst the rocks and trees, or furniture, or memories, or whatever resides in that center place, there will be clues or maps or some other kind of knowledge that will lead me to future actions that make good sense.

There's also an impractical, but equally important side to this. It's the magic side. I'm prepping for the trip by re-reading Carlos Castaneda's novel "Tales of Power." I first read it when it came out in 1974, and it came to mind recently partly because it's set out in the Chapparal, or desert in the American Southwest, plus Mexico in parts. I'm something over halfway through it and will finish I guess in the next couple of days before I head out. The book is narrated by the character Carlos, who is being taught sorcery by don Juan and don Juan's teacher, don Genaro. One of the great things about the book is that Carlos is so caught up in trying to "understand" how this sorcery stuff works and taking copious notes in his notebook, and don Juan is always laughing at him for it, but telling him nevertheless to keep taking notes as it gives him something to do so he doesn't freak out. Carlos acts a little bit like a Christian trying to "prove" to himself that God exists, but it's not the same thing, as it doesn't resolve itself into a question of faith, but a question of action. At any rate, the book speaks to me because all my life I have felt close to dream time, time travel (not the sci-fi kind), and consciousness transferred between living entities, namely humans. "Tales of Power" very much touches on all those things without genre gimmicks like sci-fi or your other standard magic stuff requiring suspension of disbelief. I think "Tales of Power" might be pretty hard to get through for people who haven't brushed up against spiritual realities and tried to make sense of it.

While this physical journey to Middle of Nowhere*, New Mexico is one I'm taking alone, I'm very aware that it's well populated at each end by my family and good friends such as yourselves. It will be a deeply personal and solo experience while I'm away, but anything but solo when I get back and before I leave. That's why I wanted this salon. I'd like to head out feeling brimful of words and thoughts from my friends and family, especially you all because you're artists. And that's because I hope to render something from the trip that I can express artistically. I'm taking a video camera and think I might want to interview some people I meet along the way, and maybe record my own musings and discoveries, assuming none of this gets in the way of the experience, which I don't think it will. I'll probably also shoot footage of places, because "place," obviously, is a huge part of this. Otherwise I would do it out on the deck. I'm not going to take my laptop because the writing I will surely do can always be transferred to bits and bytes later, when I shape it into something readable. Instead, I'll be taking paper and a favored pen or three, as I mentioned in my blog. The flow of energy straight from me, into the pen and onto the paper, is more apt for this, and that's just me and I don't think I need to explain it. I wrote a blog about it sometime back if you're interested.

I don't want to fence in the discussion here by offering prompts that are restrictive, but just to get us started, let me throw out a question or two that you can ponder while I lead you on a very short tour of the space ship** I'll be traveling in. I'd like you to see it even though it hasn't yet been outfitted for the flight. Please follow me to the deck, stopping to freshen your drinks on the way, as you can bring those with you if you like.

1. Have you ever felt the need for a vision quest or gone on one?

2. Can you relate your personal art to a journey such as I've described?

*Middle of Nowhere is Truth or Consequences

**The space ship is my pickup truck.

© Jerry Stubblefield. Return to top of page.
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