I carry him on my back uphill. A broken pelvis, healed without intervention, disabled his body long before he was mine. Cool green manzanita leaves and prickly pine needles shake off their snow like birds in a bath. Beside them, I march; enjoying each boulder, each seed-bearing cone, each sage brush adorning snow. I slouch under dull pain in my shoulders. I had thought for years to train for backpacking, but never enough to start — until this disabled body showed up wanting the adventure as much as I.
Behind gauzy clouds, the sun moves through a sky that morphs from bright to dark almost without warning. I check my watch. We’ve arrived at nowhere-in-particular and must return downhill. I relinquish my body from the backpack, careful not to tip him.
His feet, wrapped in miniature booties, make miniature crunches on the snow-turned-ice. Perfectly timed to my pattering heart, evermore delighted with each mini-crunch. His steps a staccato. My strides: the baseline. Sloshing where snow and earth made mud. In one bright streak — a comet’s trail — still water reflects the sun that warms our backs, both covered in fleece. He looks back at me, checking on me, flashing his wide, toothless smile.
When I wonder too long, his mystery past roots sadness in my heart to guess. The only certainty: a guardian angel plucked him from death row. And here we are now, his steps and mine, crunching ice in booties and boots. Living our destiny.
My latest project is a collection of festival stories that take a fun and, sometimes, frightening journey into the fringe! All the stories are based on my true, lived experience. I’ve been compiling these for a few years, and I’m loving the way they’re coming together as a whole. I can’t wait to share some of these wild writings with you!
This collection is my second, coming after Varanasi Sage, which is comprised of true stories that honor our sacred existence and the ordinary miracles manifesting on earth. Varanasi Sage is available in audiobook, paperback, and ebook. Click here for more info!
After months of recording and fine-tuning the words, the Varanasi Sage audiobook is now available on Audible! Varanasi Sage is a series of vignettes that describe the deep connection we can feel with nature and celebrates the ordinary miracles of everyday life. Click here to check it out!
“Walk through nature’s bounty in lyrical, nonfiction prose. Each sensory, rich, hypnotic step illuminates time and place, navigating nature’s creation in contrast to man’s destruction. Written in a series of vignettes, Varanasi Sage honors our sacred existence and ancestral communications through the unseen power that connects all. Varanasi Sage explores life, death, and the ordinary miracles manifesting on earth. Journey the depths of self-discovery to find the truest self, connected and whole.”
Soon, it’ll also be on iTunes!
If you want a quick sample, click play on the icon below to hear one of my favorite chapters, A Call to Vision.
North out of Yellowstone, a two-lane road snaked along the hillside and next to a dark blue-green river, white ripples cascading from rocks. Around a bend, traffic slowed to a stop and go. I pressed and released the break with patience born from heart full of bison, caribou, and mineral pools.
Onto a straightaway, we saw a bull elk down river, and knew the traffic jam was for him.
As we neared, we found a crowd of people only tamed by the limited parking area. We got lucky. A car put on its reverse lights as we approached. And just like the others, we left our car with camera in hand to admire and immortalize the stag in our memory.
As we focused on the bull, a man excitedly approached us to point and say, “this is the most incredible thing. There’s a mom over there and baby in the grass!”
The mother relaxed close to the river, her golden back to the crowd, wanting to enjoy the view, but her ears turned back, knowing humans could not be trusted. We walked a few steps further to find the baby behind tall grass. It stood facing us, its innocent eyes on us. Nervous, yet unafraid, knowing its father stood behind in the river, his robust, spearlike antlers facing the crowd. Ready if necessary, keeping an eye toward us as he lowered his mouth to drink.
Listening to the river and tuning out the crowd’s chatter, I remembered the last time — the first time — I found myself in the presence of elk. At an empty campsite on a rocky creek in Oregon, in the cool morning just after dawn, I walked through the mist. Moisture hung low to the earth to make the lush ferns mysterious and magical. I had left my camera in the tent, having taken many pictures the day before. I wanted to lose myself on the winding trail that followed along the creek, beneath trees adorned with moss. As I bathed in the forest, I saw a family of elk drinking. Two cows, a bull, and a few calfs. I stopped, obscuring myself behind a tree, in awe of their elusive nobility. After a few breaths, I stepped around the tree and towards the creek to get closer. They each stopped drinking to watch me. Having their peace disturbed, they backed away into the forest and mist.
We returned to the road leaving Yellowstone after taking our pictures and enjoying the elk. We drove to a campsite nestled between hills. We walked beside a meadow while the sky turned pink and purple, passing deer who leaped as we neared.
The next morning, we woke early, broke camp and continued north to Glacier. A haze had settled in over night. North of Bozeman, forcing us to abandon our plans, the air grew thick and brown.
Smoke from Oregon. Forests burning. Flames intensified by human-created climate change, taking the moss, ferns, trees, insects, and wildlife — the elk.
Under the smoke, my heart burned along with my relations, children of the earth and sky.
Hills that beg you to keep seeking the other side. A sky that calls you to fly up and above to the mountains of your dreams. My Grandfather, who I never met, grew among the grasses and hills, the deer and moose and grizzly, and under that sky who called.
In the vast open space, I understood — I knew him — at last. I understood why he escaped his crib and ran down the dirt road again and again. And why, even though his parents put him in a boarding school to tame his wandering adventurer, they never could. Why he enlisted in the front lines in the Pacific. And why the monotony of a 9-5 in suburbia destroyed him.
I felt him there within my heart, within my bones. I knew why and how his soul could be crushed — a wild bird locked in a cage. He died of a broken spirit long before he left his body.
On this trip, I couldn’t make it to the mountains of my dreams, the road to the sun blocked by Oregon’s smoke; yet, I gained more than my intentions. A feeling of wholeness, of integration, of knowing this man, this mystery — feeling his DNA come alive within mine.
I’ll return in Spring. To let his essence bloom within my consciousness, to let him live on. For just like him, the hills and sky call to my Spirit.
I’m excited to announce that I’m guiding three meditations in this year’s Virtual Burning Man through my camp Namaste & Chill! You can participate from anywhere in the world — and the majority of the world will have access to the virtual playa for free! The environment plays like a game (check out a preview below our event calendar). RSVP at dustymultiverse.com
My Schedule in Pacific Time:
Tuesday – 8 PM – Full Moon Ceremony – Empowered by the Moon – Drum Meditation with Nikki Prizma (also live on Twitch at Shelter in Space)
Thursday – 12 PM – Writing & Meditation (also live on Instagram)
Saturday – 2 PM – Burn the Man Within – Drum Meditation with Nikki Prizma