I have only been to California twice in my life for a total of 2 weeks. But both those weeks are intensely ingrained in my memory as times of physical exuberance and spiritual exploration. The two trips were at a small camp of 20 or so people and each day had a different adventure in store. Whether it was climbing mountains, kayaking or mountain boarding the camp kept us moving. In the midst of all this action there was time for deep conversation, questioning, frustrations and tears.
Before the trip even began I was excited to go to California because it was the place my father and my aunt spent a good part of their young adult years. I know there are many stories my father never had a chance to tell me and I wish more than anything I could have heard. My aunt does her best to relay the stories she remembers and she was a part of but, she’ll never be able to tell me what it was like to hike in the sierra mountain range for weeks at a time. So in a small way journeying to California was a way to reconnect with my father’s past as if somehow it still lingered out there in the mountains or on the streets of San Francisco.
I remember that on the day we hiked a moutain (whose name I can’t recall) on the way back down the mountain I was separated from everybody in my group. Initially I thought nothing of it but as the way back down took longer and longer I became increasingly nervous. It was the most alone I have ever been in my life, no one near me, no sounds of vehicles or “the world”. In the middle of wondering whether I had gone back down the right way a butterfly appeared and landed on my shirt. I remember freezing and just staring at this creature, who just as quickly as it landed took off again. It was the first time in my life that I felt there was something out there that was bigger than me on this planet. I nearly fell to my knees I was so overwhelmed with emotions and to this day I can’t accurately explain what happened in that brief moment.