I'm finishing up the last few work details this weekend before I officially embark on my sabbatical. Next Tuesday I leave for Europe where my first stop is Berlin, a city I've always wanted to see. Then I meet several other Moonites in the the Soca Valley of Slovenia for Grandmaster Chen Xiao Xing’s final seminar outside of China. 10 different countries will represent! I’m really looking forward to six strong days of training with my good friends from Great Britain, Russia, Norway, China and more, many of whom I have known for years. Taijiquan, Qigong and the Martial Arts in general attract the best of humanity and international training experiences offer all of us a chance to connect our deepest passion with each other, we from all over the world. My life and how I interpret the world has been shaped and transformed by these extraordinary experiences. I’ll finish my trip with a few days in Amsterdam before heading back to Seattle.
This in and of itself is quite a full meal. However, with all the profound changes of this past year I really felt I needed something else – something introspective, something quiet, reflective and solitary. Since my mother died last year and I decided to let go of the Market Street space, I have noticed a deep craving to walk. What does one do at 10 pm at night to research such a craving? Google “long walks” of course! The Kumano Kodo in Japan popped up. I knew instantly this was what I wanted and signed on the next day for a "self-guided" experience. And so, September 3 sees me back to Sea Tac on board an Air Canada flight heading for the Land of the Rising Sun. I chose the longest accessible option of the Kumano Kodo, the Nakahechi and Kohechi routes, both, like the Camino De Santiago, are UNESCO designated walks, the only walks in the world with this designation. I will be 11 days along this thousand-year old sacred Pilgrim Trek with bookends in Kyoto & Nara. I lived in Japan for one year in the early 90’s and knew I’d make my way back someday. Japan met and shaped my heart and my psyche more than any other culture in the world and I’m so grateful to be able to return at this time of my life.
A student asked me, “What are your hopes and expectations for your walk?” I answered, “nothing at all.” The Ceremony and Celebration of our Market Street dojo (Dojo: Japanese for “A Hall for Training the Way”) continues to resonate with me in ways that eradicated all cravings for “hoping" or "expecting.” It was a completion of a cycle, we all knew it, but it was much more. How many of us have an opportunity to stand in a room of 150 people and receive such profound appreciation? How many of us have a chance to look at so many people and tell them what they have meant to their life? How many people have a chance to watch stunning demonstrations of work shared and absorbed? How many people have a chance to witness a community gather and share with each other their deep gratitude? In these weeks following our celebration I recognize the great gifts that evening bestowed on me and more, on all of us; I recognize there is nothing more to want, hope for, or expect.
I believe this evening manifested as it did because this was our intention. We intended to celebrate, to express gratitude, to be with each other with our full selves at this sacred completion of a very meaningful cycle that has touched each of us. We did it perfectly. Starting with the weeks coming up to the event itself we moved ourselves to this completion. The final classes we shared together were among the richest we have ever shared, full of presence, tears and laughter. Full of joy and beauty. The party planning and demo practice and secret surprise for Teacher Kim were all impeccable expressions of the heart. We did this transition together and I cannot help but think this experience will be one of the touchstones we visit over and over again for the rest of our lives. Impermanence is the only thing we know is for sure in this life and to so fully acknowledge and celebrate it is a tremendous act of love. Perhaps this is what my first teacher was pointing to when he said, “one of the most important things you can ever do is leave correctly.”
In my speech I mentioned a dream I had a few days before the event. I had been spending days putting together the photo collages. My psyche was filled with everyone I had ever encountered in this space. In my dream, everyone was with me. I felt everyone’s presence and remembered the details of our lives together. And then, the dream expounded from there: concentric circles of our connection spiraled outward into the universe. At that moment, I felt to my core how completely and absolutely our lives interconnect, how we all touch each other in ways we know but also in so many more ways we will never know. It seems to me the access code to this realization must be gratitude. Every day now I wake up with one singular intention: to be grateful.
Thank you all very much for the Grand Salute to Market Street. Thank you for being a part of my life and thank you for allowing me to be a part of yours.
Respect, Salute, 10,000 Thank You’s. See you in the fall.