In the summer, the constellation Orion the hunter is the first thing that greats me through my neighbor's trees early in the morning. Many times I have have come awake in the pre dawn hours to pull on my thermals, toss my long range hunting pack in my truck, and sling my bow over my shoulder.
There is something about the the pre dawn morning. There is a silence that dosn't exist at any other time. Reality itself is meditating on what is to come. I live in the suburbs, so it's not completely silent, but I can still sense that it wants to be. Living on a hill and having very sensitive ears, I can hear the life and community around me waking up. I can hear the buzz of the high way several miles away as commuters get an early start. I can hear garage doors opening and cars starting. I can hear a feint conversation in a neighbors house, and the over all stirring of a community preparing to tackle another day. I can even hear the low frequency hum and pulse of the engines at the Roseville Rail-yard probably 15 miles away.
Even so, there is a silence. An absolutely recognizable calm before the storm. I find It pleasant. It makes me feel that at this moment I can't be touched. All my responsibilities and the demands the world places upon me are asleep. No matter how much money I owe, who I have to feed, where I have to go, what fire I must put out, who or what is demanding my attention, what I have to plan for, or the hundreds of people I have to keep happy, at this moment I am invincible and unreachable if only because everyone else is asleep.
I always thank Orion for his greeting. It's like a wink from God reminding me there are bigger things than I, but this moment belongs to me.
Being well aware that us humans are only playing connect the dots and imposing two dimensional meaning on giant balls of exploding gass in a vast three dimensional space, I can't help but feel connected to the ancient hunter. He is locked permanently drawing his bow in the sky aiming at a quarry that he will never hit. It makes me laugh and shake my head. We all have our bows at full draw aiming at empty space. Which will break first, the bow, the string, or the hunter?
Today I am greeting Orion again. I have neglected him for to long. I stopped hunting about four years ago after my youngest son was born. Quit regularly I made it a point to disappear into the mountains bow in hand wether crawling on my belly in a meadow in the Ventana Wilderness or climbing granite formations in the sierras to get a better vantage point. I'm not sure what happened. I don't know why I stopped.
It was never about killing. I rarely ever took aim at anything. The hunt is a ritual to honor my place in the ecology of the world and a meditation to force my attention to survival details. Even water becomes something you must constantly think about and master when you are three days walk away from any road. During a long range solo hunt on foot, bills don't mean anything, modern responsibilities are trivial, and what it means to be a man walking on and respecting the earth rises to the forefront of my consciousness.
I suppose the addictions of modern life have sought to remove me from myself. It's a nameless enemy adding more and more weight looking for my weaknesses that I am all to aware exist.
Today I walk away from the frey but not on a hunt this time. I'm reaching further back into my passions and I will walk on a martial arts pilgrimage of sorts. I will walk from my home and the comfort of my wife and children and even the safety of my country on a journey that will take me to the other side of the world into the mountains of northern Thailand.
In Thailand I will train at a Shaolin Kung fu retreat in the afternoon and a Muey Thai kickboxing camp in the mornings. I will spend my evenings meditating in the tropical highlands and discussing this world of illusion with buddhist monks. I will be disconnecting from this life for a short three weeks not because it's bad or because I don't like it but because I do and it's wonderful. I am surrounded by amazing people in an amazing community. I have an amazing career surrounded by an army of beautiful children. I have amazing children my self, and a beautiful wife. I owe it to myself and them to rise once again to my full potential.
The Tibetan death meditation taught me that we will loose everything and everyone eventually. I have already given enough of myself to Mara, the demon of unskilled emotions. I intend to grip the time I have here to its fullest and absorb every last bit of it.
A leader and a teacher must occasionally embrace solitude to grow. While technically I will still be around people, I am taking this journey alone and on foot. I am leaving from my home on foot with only a small minimalist back pack. The walk I will take from here to the mountains of south east Asia and back using only public transportation is a walk and symbol of renewal and protest against the focus on things instead of people and self.
My friend Orion will surely follow me, but I will no longer be like him at full draw aiming at something that isn't there. These journeys will become a part of my life because there is only one thing I should be aiming at. The illusive quarry that's always just around the next rock or tree is none other than myself. Even since a child, I have always known who I am. I have always been blessed with a strong sense of identity, but as a martial artist and teacher for a short time I have let the world get in the way of my refinement. No longer. There is to much life and not enough time to accept mediocrity by not breaking through the shells that threaten us.
I want to wish everyone an early Marry Christmas and Happy new year. I will be totally disconnecting from social media and communications except with my wife and boys until I return in January. Thank you for being apart of my life weather you are family, a student, or a friend.