"One wishes to go on. On this great river one could glide forever — and here we discover the definition of bliss, salvation, Heaven, all the old Mediterranean dreams: a journey from wonder to wonder, drifting through eternity into ever-deeper, always changing grandeur, through beauty continually surpassing itself: the ultimate Homeric voyage."

"Polish comes from the cities; wisdom from the desert."

Cathedral Rock - Sedona, AZ

The view here is incredible. Awesome. And not in that ‘everything is awesome now’ use of the word. Truly awe-some. I stood at the edge of that cliff for at least 20 minutes, listening to the wind whistle through the endless canyons. The place feels as old as time itself, and that is a rare thing.

The legends say there is a ‘vortex’ of energy in this spot. What that means exactly I couldn’t tell you. What I *can* tell you is that I felt a pull, on a deep, deep level. Something happens to you up there, something tangible. I wanted to burn everything I was seeing into my memory for the rest of eternity. I wanted to sit and never leave. It was power of a sort I’ve never experienced in my life, and it was beautiful.

The pictures are like a bland white bread and I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter sandwich compared to the sheer visual torrent of majesty sprawled out in front of me.

If you ever get the chance to go to Sedona (as in, you’re within a day’s drive of the place) just go.

You’ll thank me later.

The past few days have been a time of reflection. The end of such bacchanalia tends to bring that on in force. I destroy, rebuild, destroy, endlessly. A cycle of discovery and rebirth. Though lately I realize there has been far more tearing down than building up. My focus was so great, breaking down the parts of my life that I found unsavory or a hindrance, that I woke up one day and realized I had emptied myself completely. I was a wasteland; scarred and smoldering after a long war.

Not a place to raise a man.

I looked at myself and saw only the emptiness reflected back, etched with the events of my life. Carvings that go too deep to rub out. No sense of self, no identity, no core. Who I am is no longer who I was. I had made sure of that. By god, did I make sure of that.

I always thought an openness of the body, mind, and spirit was the path to enlightenment. If it is, it’s merely the first step. What you build there is the real test.

Emptiness I am familiar with. Acceptance of the universe and your place within it.

Conviction…now that’s a new one.

So this is a journey of construction. I’ve torn down enough walls. I need to put up some shelter before the hard rains come.

"The Ouroboros represents the perpetual cyclic renewal of life, and infinity, the eternal return, and represents the cycle of life, death and rebirth, leading to immortality, as in the phoenix.

It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting before any beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished”

The burn was spectacular. There is an ultimate moment of camaraderie and cohesion during this cacophony of flame. When the perimeter guards drop back and allow the crowd to surge forward as if to touch the very primal gods that called them to this place, and you find yourself awash in an electrified sea of humanity. The release of energy in that moment is palpable. All of the tension and arguments and difficulties up to this point are blown out of you like a punch straight to the heart, throat and gut.

Smoke fills your vision as you join the masses in a slowly rotating vortex around the effigy. A few of the crazy-brave break off to run laps impossibly close to the fire. It’s the closest thing you can get to experiencing a world-sized oven. You shuffle, lost in shining eyes and waves of dust and smoke. This becomes your reality for a brief time. Sweat, skin, laughter, hugs, and an immense glow over your shoulder as if the universe itself was melting around you.

It is surreal. Beautiful. Awesome in a sense of the word you never quite considered humanly possible. Awesome in a sense that you are awed. That this is something special and wholly alien to the world you have journeyed from.

You’ve made it. We all have. And now we are here together, as one in spirit and strength. We have made this happen that will never happen again. At least not quite like this. And in the making we learn to love and let go. To understand that the beauty is in the process and the shared experience, not the end result. That in order to love freely we must let go freely as well.

And so we burn.

My new cartwheeling companion and I set off for deep playa. Now, when someone gives you directions to some spectacle outside of the city proper it’s usually in reference to one of the main roads leading to the man at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. Anything past that the best you can get is ‘walk to the edge of civilization, and keep going.’ It’s an odd sensation going from a ‘place’ in the middle of nothing, to the *actual* middle of nothing. These are the Outlands. Limbo. Occasional landmarks dot the emptiness, like a series of bizarre mirages. The only difference is that movie theater advertising spaghetti westerns at 2am? Very much there. I hear they even serve Red Vines.

Red and I stumble across a set of gates surrounding a podium. On the podium there is a large book full of blank pages, and a handful of pens and markers. ‘The Book of Missed Connections’. The pages are full of drawings, sentiments, gibberish, notes, replies, inspiration and observations. We spend a few minutes leafing through these fragments of people’s experiences in this place. Some sad, some celebratory, all heartfelt. There is something about the act of putting your emotions down in such an artifact, like you’re leaving a sticky note on the fridge of the universe. It has meaning. Significance.

I gather myself and say my piece, calling out to the companions who were unable to make this wondrous journey with me. In doing so I feel I’ve done their spirits justice. Brought a little of them here and sent a little of the dust back to them. It’s a small thing, but small things have more power than we know.