“An intense cold swept over them all. Harry felt his own breath catch in his chest. The cold went deeper than his skin. It was inside his chest, it was inside his very heart….” J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
When I was young and had a bad dream, I would tell the beast to “go away!” and poof, it was gone. What remained was this incredible sense of empowerment and I would peacefully return to my slumber. Wouldn’t our waking hours be so great if we could just simply tell our demons to disappear?
The truth is we all have demons that haunt us whether hidden in our closet or blatantly inhibiting our daily joie de vivre. For the past few years I’ve been haunted by this one particular apparition. I know he lurks but I am always caught off guard. Like a Dementor straight out of a Harry Potter novel, he sucks a little part of my soul and then disappears until our next encounter. Upon first sight, I am elated. I see him and am so excited and giddy, as if missing a loved one that has been gone for so long. In a trance, I reach for my love, waiting to feel his warmth, I call for him “My beloved, I missed you so!” My arms extended ready for his warm embrace, his kind eyes gazing adoringly at me, an aura of peace cloaks his presence.
And in an instant I remember my love is dead and all I feel is cold and haunted. What I long for and what is, is not to be. My heart feels heavy.
In an effort to cleanse myself of this unwanted burden, I sought a chance for a spiritual awakening, freeing myself to continue forward in peace and happiness. I headed west to visit my mom.
Landing 10,000 feet above sea level, I could already feel lightness in my steps. Encapsulated between the Colorado mountain ranges that stretched into eternity, with colors of amber and gold painting the landscape, I arrived at my mother’s home along the East River. I had visited this place before but many years ago when times and days were simpler.
Feeling good to be back to this comforting and familiar beauty, I cracked the window open a peep, letting the Rocky Mountain air engulf my room while the sound of the rapids lulled me to sleep. Refreshed from a good night’s rest, mom and I began a journey where I would encounter three spirits: the spirit of happiness, the spirit of endurance, and the spirit of humor. This is my story.
Mom and I began a hike along the lower pass. From our perch we could see snow-capped mountains to the north, Peanut Lake to the east, the Aspen trees changing colors in all their glory to the west. The mountain town of Crested Butte was below us to the south, with all its pastel colored, Victorian architectural buildings dancing in the valley. We rounded a corner in our path and met a man named Corkie.
Corkie was a gentle giant at six foot five, broad and well fed. With a distinct Mexican drawl he provided me with a gift, “Do you know what the best revenge is?” As if he could smell my need to unleash a pent up fury against an unmitigated force. “The Sweetest revenge. Happiness is the sweetest revenge.” And with his random words of wisdom, he gave me a hug, like a mother bear wrapping her powerful arms gently around her cub. Corkie then disappeared into the distance.
As we continued on our walk, we ventured down to town and stumbled upon a randomly placed old, beat up Subaru, reclaimed and painted sky blue with evergreens and mountain profiles. On the car was written “Happy, Healthy, Whole….Be Here Now, Love What is….” I paused a moment for reflection.
Beginning to feel philosophical and inspired by these encounters, and eagerly seeking my awakening, I resorted to an old and comfortable habit. With an epiphany of sorts I announced, “I must buy a pair of cowboy boots!” Scouring the streets in search of a bargain, there before me, with spotlights flashing, were my boots. I claimed them and proclaimed, “I am a new woman. I have cowboy boots.” Though not to be fooled by a little retail therapy, and a little roll of the eye from my mother, I knew my journey had not reached its pinnacle.
With some Sleepy Time tea by the fire, mom and I recounted the events of our day. The tea settling my mind, window cracked slightly, and the help of my river friend, I was carried to another day.
Mom and I spent the week riding horses through Snod Grass mountain pass overlooking the Maroon Bells of Aspen, visiting Crested Butte cemetery, its wrought iron arches situated with the Butte mountain in the background – no haunting just reflecting on the lives that once passed through these lands; my soul still groggy.
We dined at The Baccanale, an upscale eatery that specializes in using locally grown and raised food. There we were greeted by my second spirit named Cricket. Cricket was tiny in stature but formidable in frame. Her tanned skin had a healthy, aged glow that spoke of her life’s adventures.
Seems Cricket had led quite the colorful life. Following her husband’s career around Asia, she cultivated the art of Asian cooking. Upon the dissolution of her marriage, she embarked on a catering business. Ronnie Reagan called her one day and asked her to be a cooking advisor when Asian dignitaries visited the White House. The two began a life-long friendship. I was stunned by Cricket’s story. And like a cricket whose melodious tune rings passively in the backdrop, I was filled with admiration and courage at the endurance of this living legacy.
With a week’s worth of adventure behind us, yet still more to explore, the next day we visited an old mining village called Gothic and hiked up to Judd Falls. As we reached the falls, a little bench sat at a vantage point where water gushed thousands of feet below. With a palpitation of my heart brought about by daring to peer over the rapids, I spotted a little box of ashes placed purposefully next to a tree. Legend has it, they are the ashes of a dog whose owner lost his best friend years ago. The ashes have been left untouched ever since. It reminded me of my dog Chester who recently passed, and a chill swept across my heart, forming a tear in my eye.
Sad that my week was nearing its end, still longing for that full “awakening” I so desperately sought, I scheduled a Reiki appointment; the ancient Japanese art of restoring physical and emotional well-being. Feeling silly and skeptical, I entered the small room filled with the scent of lavender and patchouli oil, music chanting silently. My Reiki therapist warned me that some people become very emotional during a Reiki session. “Sure, whatever,” I thought.
I laid down and closed my eyes. She began to pull chords on my chakra, pounding drums, gently touching my shoulders. She had me repeat a mantra:
“I release you. I forgive you. I allow you to continue on your journey. I do not need to understand your words or actions. I release fear, I release anger, I release sadness. I allow myself to follow my path. I allow myself to love again. I love myself. I allow my spirit to show.”
With the power of the mantra I released years of burden and sorrow, worries and resentment. I began to cry, and cry, and cry. Choking on an attempt to hold back emotion, I tell her that I feel so strange, that this outpouring of emotion is so odd. Along with releasing the agony of the mourning of my husband, she then gently touches my ankle and I begin to cry for my dog Chester?!
It was an exhausting yet exhilarating hour and a half. I felt so light, my weight removed, my heart open with joy pouring in. I felt empowered and at peace. This was the awakening I envisioned!
With blood shot eyes and a glazed expression, I greeted my mother after my session and began to recount the events of my Reiki tale. Suddenly the third spirit, spirit of humor, presented itself as my mother joltingly interrupted my Reiki story and said, “Oh, I forgot to call Titty today!”
“Yes, Titty, my hairdresser.”
“Your hairdresser’s name is Titty?”
“Yes, why?” Then mom turned her gaze to the sky, trying to comprehend my sarcasm.
“Oh, Titty? I never realized!” and then we both burst into laughter, thanking Titty for having such a humorous moniker.
We carried that laughter into the sunset, the town alive for their annual art walk. We meandered in and out of art galleries, chatting with the artists as to what inspires them to bring such images to life. With snow forecasted for the day of my departure, stars began to hide behind a fog. I cracked the window and listened to the river hum its lullaby one last night.
The morning of my departure we stopped at a local pit stop, “Camp for Coffee,” an organic, locally roasted, fair traded coffee shop. As we sat by the window, sipping our lattes, snow began to gently fall, muting the brightly colored leaves on the Aspens. While the snow blanketed the mountains, I reflected on my trip knowing my spiritual journey was complete. Ready to bid adieu to this magical and majestic place, I clicked the heels of my cowboy boots three times and was home.
Home. It felt good to be home. I couldn’t wait to greet my kids and tell them about the beauty I had witnessed. Anxiously awaiting their arrival, ready to greet them, there standing before me was my ghost. His haunting began to cast a shadow over my awakening. But with great strength and resilience, I summoned the spirits of Corkie, Cricket, and Titty. Remembering the mantra I had learned, I breathed a deep breath and exhaled “I release you!”
Poof, my ghost was gone.
My spirit revealed, my soul awakened. I am free.