Sunday, October 01, 2006

What Are You Gonna Dream Here?

Another beautiful Oregon weekend of brilliant sunshine, awe-inspiring mountains, deep greens and cool rivers running. Today was a return to Mount Hood to hit a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) - which my hiking companion, Rod Belshee, hiked in its entirety over a five-month period a few years ago.

We hiked in on the first half of a town-park-like trail leading to the gorgeous but over-trodden Ramona Falls - which even in low season was strikingly beautiful. From here we figured it was time to get serious, and struck out on the old PCT up to Yocum Ridge, which is about a 2500 foot elevation gain over 6 miles or so up to a stunning view of Mount Hood.

We didn't make it all the way, as we had to meet some people back at the bottom to ride-share home, but we did get in a bracing 15 miles or so in the most glorious country that must be known to man (not exaggerating here are we?). In truth, the terrain was in many ways indistinguishable from parts of Nova Scotia, even down to the massive boulders left in the wake of receding glaciers so many millennia ago.

And on that trail it was so easy to understand what was important in life, and where I could fit into it all.

Here we stand in a special place
What are you gonna do here?
Now we stand in a special place
What will you do here?

What show of soul

Are we gonna get from you
It could be deliverance
Or history under these skies
So blue

Could be something true...

I got to thinking about the Romantic poets - yet another area that I am woefully short of knowledge on, but apparently ready to venture opinions on. Well, I do know The Waterboys, and I do know that Mike Scott's verses are tributes to the truly awe-inspiring majesty of the savage earth heart that the Romantics held as deity above all.

And I know that the Romantics believed that human beings were truly a part of that glorious nature, and that we can feel the rhythms of the ebb and flow of its seasons and the crashing bangs of its storms flowing in our blood and stirring our souls.

Which means that we all share that true core of humanity - which could be called the soul - that is corrupted in the modern world by the layers of obfuscation we build over the top of it like asphalt over the earth under our feet. The jealousies and petty whims of material desire that blind us from our true nature.

Yes, I've had enough of the ways of men
His sordid games rape my brain

And that got me thinking, of all things, about Ayn Rand's novel/polemic "The Fountainhead," which my friend Scott turned me onto in first year university. I remember that I understood Rand's core tenet to be that selfishness is a positive force that can serve the good of mankind as a whole.

I think she was talking about the fact that we need to be selfish based on meeting the needs and desires of the "true core of humanity" espoused by the Romantics - if we are selfish in pursuing the desires that are truly in line with the essence of nature that we all share at that core, what we aspire to can only by extension edify others.

That's a tall order when walking down Northwest 23rd and peeking into the trendy shops and cafes, because we are surrounded by obfuscation. We are immersed in the artificial needs and desires that we have engineered into the fabric of our society and that have blinded us to our essential selves.

But 10 miles into the Yocum trail on Mount Hood it is a little easier to access and understand that essential core of humanity that we all share.

And that, my friends, is a meditation.

How do we take that awareness out of the woods and into our homes and offices?