Pattison on Wheels

Saturday, May 10, 2008

5-10-08: The Third Bull

I awoke with a fierce sense of myself. I courted it, it faded into fantasy, and then returned. I have been living with an aversion to the experience of being. I avoid feeling my true nature in favor of donning an infinite collection of masks. I have masks for every occasion except authenticity.

There is nothing more important than the experience of being. It is all we can know for certain. Everything else is guesswork.

Consider, for example, the masks I wear. They are designed by me to make an impression on you. All are based on my guess about what you might admire. (Note that this assumes also that you will admire a fake persona.) I am afraid of my fierce true self. I fear the power of it. It contains a dignity that I don’t think will fly in a world that I believe wants me to be a clown. I am afraid of what a genuine me might do to defend that dignity.

The most straightforward access I have found to my experience of being is a paragraph from The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Connecting With The Inner Body

Please try it now. You may find it helpful to close your eyes for this practice. Later on, when “being in the body: has become natural and easy, this will no longer be necessary. Direct your attention into the body. Feel it from within. Is it alive? Is there life in your hands, arms, legs, and feet—in your abdomen, your chest? Can you feel the subtle energy field that pervades the entire body and gives vibrant life to every organ and every cell? Can you feel it simultaneously in all parts of the body as a single field of energy? Keep focusing on the feeling of your inner body for a few moments. Do not start to think about it. Feel it. The more attention you give it, the clearer and stronger this feeling will become. It will feel as if every cell is becoming more alive, and if you have a strong visual sense, you may get an image of your body becoming luminous. Although such an image can help you temporarily, pay more attention to the feeling than to any image that may arise. An image, no matter how beautiful or powerful, is already defined in form, so there is less scope for penetrating more deeply.

The feeling of your inner body is formless, limitless, and unfathomable. You can always go into it more deeply. If you cannot feel very much at this stage, pay attention to whatever you can feel. Perhaps there is just a slight tingling in your hands or feet. That’s good enough for the moment. Just focus on the feeling. Your body is coming alive. Later, we will practice some more. Please open your eyes now, but keep some attention in the inner energy field of the body even as you look around the room. The inner body lies at the threshold between you form identity and your essence identity, your true nature. Never lose touch with it.

I suspect that if there is ever a world wide wave of awakening it will look like this.

I find me and then lose me again. It has been a theme with me for many years starting with my study of a little book called Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. When you arrive at the point of being with your true self (the bull):

3. Perceiving the Bull

I hear the song of the nightingale. The sun is warm, the wind is mild, willows are green along the shore,
Here no bull can hide! What artist can draw that massive head, those majestic horns?

Comment: When one hears the voice, one can sense its source. As soon as the six senses merge, the gate is entered. Wherever one enters one sees the head of the bull! This unity is like salt in water, like colour in dyestuff. The slightest thing is not apart from self.

I think I am done with this blog now. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, May 9, 2008

5-9-08: Gremlins

I left my campsite reluctantly but I needed to charge m auxiliary battery. So I drove north on 129 and took a few photos of clouds. I stopped by a recreation area I had discovered in previous wanderings that has free showers. I gave myself my weekly haircut (a week overdue) and cleaned up.

Back to camp to experience and wrestle with computer gremlins thereby using up the recharged battery again. So I took a sort drive up Slick Rock Road to the end and came back with enough charge to process a couple photos.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

5-8-08: Down Day

A day off. Off in space mostly. I found a nice free campsite and nearby free showers so I got sick. One guy I talked to several days ago mentioned that he had been ill the day before. I weathered it by reading and sleeping . . . oh and thinking, but not much.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

5-7-08: Tail Of The Dragon

I made a ridiculously huge breakfast (again) and felt kind of overwrought for a while. I just crawled back in the tent and relaxed trying to digest it all. I got out of the campground by about eleven and just drove around exploring the back road, lakes, and campsites scattered about. I stumbled on a motorcycle shop called The Dragon’s Tail. I had just recently heard about this legendary stretch of winding road. It was recommended as a place to take action photos of all the motorcycles testing their metal, reaction times, and body parts. It all sounded familiar and reminded me of the notorious Sunday Morning Ride up California Highway One from Mill Valley to Inverness.

So I stopped and found out where it was located and headed that way on 129. Sure enough it was winding all right. Lots of bikes and, hmmm, lots of photographers with large signs on their vehicles giving their websites. I drove the run, getting a little motion sick en route. I blamed breakfast. I stopped at the end at a picnic table turnout and had a nice light lunch. Then turned around and went back and stopped and chatted up some photographers. This is their business. They take three or four shots of every motorcycle, car, truck, whatever that goes by and put them up on the web for sale. They tell me that during the summer they take upwards of 40,000 pictures a week.

I talked about photo technique and equipment and, with one guy, unrequited love. Let it go my friend, let it go. Meanwhile motorcycles are going by getting snapped. Most of them are just there for the idea of it and they ride slowly and wave and smile or look tough for the camera. Some are performance jockeys and scream through the turns with their inside knee on the pavement and lots of noise. I noticed old feelings and adrenaline coming up.

And then there is something odd about all this recreational petroleum while driving past all these hydroelectric inspired lakes and listening on the radio to some quick talking “authority” being interviewed on a discussion program and just selling nuclear power as hard as he can go.

I found a very nice isolated, free camp site on a dirt road called Slick Rock Road. I made some soup and messed with photos while a pileated woodpecker rattled the trees overhead and the barred owl had things to say. They have fireflies here but they favor the top of the canopy rather than the low levels of those I remember from my Michigan youth.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

5-6-08: I Think That I Shall Never . . .

I had a good night’s sleep with lots of dreams about Asians and lots of deep intuitions about something that bothers me—something that I must never bring to consciousness and must constantly guard against bringing to consciousness. Just knowing that is useful. It makes me envision what it would be like to not have a blind spot. Wouldn’t that be nice.

I got a shower for four quarters and then some free ice for the cooler and wandered around a bit getting info and trying to think about what to do next. I got into a conversation with a young man who works for NOC as a photographer. He takes pictures of the rafters going through the rapids and the camera sends them to the studio via wi-fi so when the client gets to the end of their trip they can buy a cd with documentation of their adventure.

I set off vaguely thinking I would go up the road a bit to see what was there. I saw a sign that said “Joyce Kilmer National Forest” so I took that. And through a lot of times when I had no idea where I was, I actually did get to that place. I found a campground nearby and staked out a site for five bucks. I asked a ranger who was overseeing work on the water system what may be good places to camp for free and where can I get some good photos. He gave me tips and off I went. I cruised the general Joyce Kilmer area, got some pictures, listened to NPR, and had a nice lunch of salad greens, pretzels and oranges.

Last on my itinerary was to take a hike to the Joyce Kilmer memorial. It is in an old growth forest with huge tulip poplars. I was feeling kind of weary before I had gone a half mile. I sat at the memorial stone and took a picture or two when an old man, having a hard time walking, came down the trail. He sat down and we talked. He got out of the navy in 1946 and became a teacher in Michigan and then in California. Later he just didn’t like being at home so he wandered all over the world. He hiked in Iceland, South America, Antarctica. He was fascinated with trees and knew their Latin names—is writing a book about them. We talked of trees, ecological issues, the evil of war, and other things. Then he said he had to go and got up with obvious pain and went down the trail.

I took the rest of the hike wondering at the beauty of these forests. The fact that there are people like me and the tree guy and the people who see that these forests are protected tells me that many of us value the aesthetics of nature. Some don’t. The trend is that we are losing more and more of that beauty.

When I got back to my campsite I made a delicious dinner of potatoes and cheese using the boiling potato water to heat the glue to patch my air mattress and also setting up the computer on the picnic table at the same time. All very efficient so I could eat and work on photos at the same time. One must use one’s time wisely.

Monday, May 5, 2008

5-5-08: Wow

Cinco de Mayo was relaxed and nice and filled with much appreciation for the beautiful world I find myself in. I had six eggs and toast for breakfast. I know its a lot but the first three tasted so good . . .

I drove over to the Nantahala again. The mountains along the way are just too brilliant to describe. I made myself familiar with the scene at Nantahala Outdoor Center ( and found a place there with free camping and set up my tent. They allow public access to their wi-fi too so that is how this got uploaded along with the last days since the twenty-ninth.

Then I went exploring and photo shooting up the river. After going way up the river I see what’s happening here. There is a huge lake which feeds the river and allows it to be an ideal training ground for white water for the whole season. I also found some free isolated camping spots where I will likely go tomorrow night. Anyway between the white water and the hatchery trout they have a monster industry here plus hydroelectric power from the same source. Wow. Is it all about power? I was thinking today that my canoe trip and these river runners are also petroleum powered. Sure the canoe is a nice ride but the petroleum carries us upstream.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

5-4-08: Non_Stop Beauty

I was a little intimidated by the hike out. I knew that if I couldn’t make it I could just camp though the food was getting short. I was not looking forward to another meal of rice and reconstituted hummus. I took my time and took a lot of photos. It was just beautiful. There were many hikers going in and a few passed me going out as well.

The beauty is non-stop and the fragrances are knockouts. The dogwood is so sweet and the balsam so leathery pungent and many more. All the while Deep Creek is tumbling over the rocks and rushing past the mossy banks covered with tiny flowers.

I got back to the parking lot in one piece by three and felt pretty grungy but first went looking to replace the lost water bottle. That took me to Nantahala Outfitters which turns out to be a kind of vortex of outdoorsy folks. The Appalachian Trail crosses the Nantahala River and U.S. 19 at that point so they have a lot of supplies and the river is amazing white water and people were running slaloms there. I found a water bottle and access to a free shower and then I bought myself a catfish dinner. Nice.

I went looking for a free campsite but time was running out and my GPS took me back to the Deep Creek Campground by mistake so I just camped there. It’s $8.50 with the senior discount. I set up the tent. And then set up the computer on the picnic table catching up with the written notes from the last few days and sorting through the photos. With luck tomorrow I will find Internet access and upload.