On the night of Tuesday, August 28th, I was returning once again to a place that I have come to know and love so dearly: Moab, UT. It was dark and the road was cutting across an open range. As I crested one of the small hills, my headlights illuminated two antelope on the side of the road. One froze where it was, the other, startled, ran into the road. I swerved. Braked. But I could not avoid him.
I hit him hard and his body skid across the road and into the brush on the other side, his companion running off a ways but pausing to look back as I quickly pulled over and jumped out of the van. I went to him, praying for him to somehow be unharmed, or be dead.
Neither was in the cards that night.
His back was clearly broken as he was unable to move from the mid-back, down, but was unsuccessful trying to get up with only his front half, breathing erratically. I knelt beside him, about 7 feet away as he was frightened, and I prayed for a miracle or a swift death. I had never wished for a gun before this moment.
I sang to him, which soothed him a bit, his breath slowing and getting regular, but not growing faint.
I spoke with him. Not through words, but through hearts.
I am so sorry
I love you
I thank you
I left him after about an hour, to die under the stars in the grasses by which he lived. My heart hurt; the pain showed me my love, and love reveals the truth that the non-human members of this animal kingdom are our brothers and sisters, sentient and conscious of their own right, engaging with each other and all life in unique and essential ways. They are not creatures below us or for us. All life is sacred and has equal right to live here and be free.
As I left, the antelope told me “Death is part of life, too.”
Death is life
Life is death
Depending on where you are standing.
My excitement to arrive in Moab was obviously deflated, but my spirits were soon elevated when I arrived and was welcomed with human hugs and dog kisses from two truly incredible tribespeople and friends, Steve and Joanie, and their two loyal desert dogs. These two people have opened their nest to me and to many others in the tribe on countless occasions, and have created a true Tribe of Dreams desert outpost where I am always welcome and where I come to rest and reconnect amidst the red rock.
I spent the following 3 days in Moab and its surrounding wonders. In the late mornings, Steve and I would take the dogs out into some of his favorite spots that he has discovered over his years there being a son of the desert. We hiked and collected river stones and sat and looked out upon unspeakable beauty. We listened to the quiet of the desert and to each other’s stories and thoughts.
Moab is a special place, and one of the reasons for it is that while it is in the desert, there is water. Water in the creeks and rivers and springs. So knowing I am a “water baby,” as Steve put it, he told me he wanted to show me something and brought me to a waterfall up a canyon. As I stood on the edge of the pool at the bottom of the fall I literally tried to keep myself out of the water, knowing there was more of the hike to walk, but I simply could not resist. So Steve continued on for a few minutes as I stripped down and waded in. I stood right in the middle of her very strong, very cold waters as they pounded down onto me, the sound of a percussion symphony blaring from the inside of my body, my breath catching at the shock of the temperature. I could feel my system coming alive and as I left the fall, I experienced what ‘exuberance’ is. What “vitality” is. True raging LIFE.
Night time at Steve and Joanie’s means praying together over and sharing nourishing meals, which always ends with Steve and I getting our guitars and starting our reunion jam sessions while Joanie happily cheers us on, placing her special requests, and when we are lucky, joining in on the singing. These moments are true happiness.
The other gift of my trip to Moab was reuniting with my cousin Brian for the first time since last summer. For the first 6 months of 2014, Brian was my road dog, traveling with me from San Francisco through Southern California, Utah, and Colorado before parting ways in June. He is currently living in Moab and our reunion was long overdue. When he asked where I wanted to hike, my only request was for more water. With that in mind, he directed us to Left Hand Canyon, up which we walked, switching back and forth across Mill Creek until we reached an amazing swimming hole with another waterfall rushing into it. The small red rock cliffs around the swimming hole probably range from 15-25 feet, and Brian suggested that we jump from one of them, assuring me that people jump here all the time.
For the past 3 years, since I first saw someone jump from a cliff into a body of water (at a river in Texas) and I was too afraid to do the same, I have been fostering a desire to conquer this fear, knowing what the jump symbolizes by way of literally jumping into the unknown or the uncomfortable or that which scares me. Even though he only suggested the lowest of the cliffs, I still met his suggestion with my usual resistance.
“I’ll jump first,” he said, trying to bait me. And while I informed him that his jump would guarantee nothing from me, he jumped, but not without a few nerves himself, even though he has jumped there many times before. From the pool below he yelled encouragement to me as I stood on the rock motionless, laughing at my paralysis.
“Come on man, you’ll be so glad you did!”
I knew he was right, but my body couldn’t seem to free itself from my mind’s fear grip. After 4 or 5 minutes of this, I took a deep breath into the fear and prayed for the water to hold me. In an instant, I decided I was doing it, my body was freed, and I jumped!
Brian was right, I didn’t regret it. It was exhilarating and inspiring and enlivening, and yet when I looked UP at the “cliff” from the pool below, it sure looked a lot lower than it seemed when I was standing up top!
Well, thanks to the best desert hosts a man could ask for, a trip to Moab is never complete until I’ve been out in the canyons playing music by a fire under the stars, so that is just what Steve and I did for my last night in town. He brought me up to a shallow cave with an enormous mouth where we built a small fire and sat there looking out at this beautiful earth as the almost-full moon rose into the sky. I had one of those eternal moments there, where everything just IS and that is enough. I have been experiencing these moments not infrequently in this past month or so while receiving such deep and potent earth medicine so abundantly. As I sat with the ocean in California and with the desert in Utah, I have been sure to really tune in as deeply as I could and pay attention to what it feels like. What does my body and mind and heart feel like when I am in the vibration of a more wild and free landscape of nature rather than a more urban setting? There is a clearer, more pure vibration of harmony in these spaces I find, and it makes it much easier to accept the ever-present invitation to come into that vibration ourselves. A deep resonance of peace and presence. I have been taking care to really pay attention because I am keenly aware that I am heading back to New York City, which while rich in many other aspects, is very much lacking in the realms of wild natural landscapes. So when I am experiencing these places with such natural beauty, I have heard my inner guide tell me, “Remember this. Remember what this feels like. Remember so that you can cultivate it within your own body.” Because the true reality is that it doesn’t matter where we are. Whether we are sitting in a canyon or walking down a street crowded with people and buildings, these vibrations of peace and presence and harmony and beauty are available to us at all times, it is a matter of us learning how to find our way back to it. And this is what I am seeing is a big part of my current universe university curriculum, bringing me back to NYC in order to teach me the next level of self-care, wellness, and focus, regardless of external energies.
The morning of Friday the 28th, after Steve and Joanie took me out for a wonderful breakfast, we said (and hugged) our goodbyes, knowing it’s never too long before I’m passing through their desert tribe spot again. As I left, I stopped at
Matrimony Springs, which is always my very first and very last stop in town. Drinking fresh spring water right from the earth upon which you are standing is one of the most amazing ways to heal our bodies and raise our vitality. The waters that bubble up from deep below have been there since before we started polluting the surface of the earth. They are not only the cleanest, but also the healthiest, containing great minerals as well as priceless vibratory information for the cells that make up our bodies. So much of our water as a culture now comes from machines or pipes or filters, depleting the vibratory medicine of the water and lowering its ability to really heal us beyond basic hydration. So much of it also has been fluoridated, which while strengthening our teeth, is also a classified neurotoxin with capabilities of contributing to the calcification of the pineal gland, deadening our sensory perception of the unseen aspects of reality and the threads that connect us to all of it. My brother Ian was the first to really turn me on to this concept of ‘wild water’, but it makes perfect sense. If fresh, local, and wild are all important factors in our food, why wouldn’t it be in our waters? He lives in San Diego and drives two hours once or twice a month up to Palomar Mountain to fill up countless jugs and bottles of the water with the intention of only drinking and cooking with spring water whenever possible. I see that in addition to the vibratory effect on our physical being, connecting with local wild water also cultivates a real reverence for this substance which is source and inspires us to become protectors of her in times of ever-increasing threats to her purity. Ian was the first to introduce me to www.findaspring.com, a place to find your closest fresh spring water wherever you are on the globe. I encourage each of you to check it out and find your closest access point to the freshest, best water on the planet and cultivate a deeper relationship with your body, the water, and the planet from which it springs. And in order to do just this for my own self, I will be using this site to find and stop at as many springs as I can between Moab and New York, thanking the waters, renewing my service to being a voice for them, and receiving their most potent of medicines.
The legend of Matrimony Springs is that once you drink from it, you always return to Moab. I keep coming back, and I keep drinking. Until next time, Moab 🙂
Blessings to all beings everywhere!
Along with being a musician, Steve is an artist and craftsman, creating really beautiful pieces that speak to and connect to Spirit. Below is a photo of some of his work. Please click the photo to visit his Etsy shop, LeathersAndFeatherz!
In exchange for your help getting me back to the Northeast, you can receive digital and/or CD copies of my debut album, “First Day,” as well as a personally dedicated YouTube video covering any song of your choosing! Click the purple button below if you would like to contribute!