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Excerpt from "Back To Walden"

by Charles Creekmore


Capsule Summary: What I offer here is a method for the madness of the world. This 1,000-word excerpt is extracted from my electronic book, Back to Walden, which is posted complete and free of charge on backtowalden.com. In this excerpt, I explore the universal truth I learned from my four months living on the edge of the Grand Canyon in 1999: that I didn’t need to be there to conjure up the great canyon and all its wonder. I learned that we can carry the Grand Canyon with us wherever we go. In all its magnificence, it squeezes into any back pocket. I found that we can pull out the Grand Canyon any time, any where we are, by simply sensing the primeval, subtle, mysterious, majestic, wild, and welling spiritual energy thrumming through all nature.

The Portable Grand Canyon

Back in 1999, I needed a break from hard, bumpy, banal, and blasphemous reality to treat a potentially terminal case of world-weariness. So I ran away to the supercharged reality of the Grand Canyon, where I signed on for minimum wage at Grand Canyon Village as the world’s oldest errand boy. My pilgrimage to the Grand Canyon turned into a crash course in spiritual energy.

You might assume I was over-qualified for this menial position, but in retrospect I think I was just the right man for the job. My professional job description included collecting plastic bags full of garbage from trash barrels lining the south rim of the canyon, douching out toilets in the public restrooms at the Bright Angel Lodge, cleaning urinals, sinks, and bathroom floors all over the village, doing inconsequential chores for grumbling guests, and cozying up to the resident ghost in the elegant, rustic, and historic El Tovar Hotel.

I liked to think of this paranormal guest as Teddy Roosevelt, minus his horse laugh and all the Roughrider protoplasm.

As I was carrying out these critical duties, I couldn’t help but feel smug about how well my hyper-extended education as an undergraduate English major had prepared me for this job. Garrison Keillor would be proud of me for a position that undoubtedly qualifies me for the Board of Trustees on his Professional Organization of English Majors, or POEM.

But there was a method to my madness. The job allowed me to indulge my real purpose for being at the Grand Canyon, which was a total immersion course in spiritual energy. I was there to get back in sync with the laws of nature, get back in touch with the infinity of myself, back in harmony with the pulse of life. It all amounted to the same thing.

In pursuit of that secret agenda, I interrupted my menial jobs many times each day to take a break from unfettered life. I would stand on the rim of this cosmic canyon and suck up the atmosphere churning invisibly, invincibly, indivisibly inside.

One universal truth I learned from this mystical experience, my four months living on the edge of the great canyon, was a real shocker; that I didn’t need to be there to conjure up the Grand Canyon and its wonder. I learned that we can carry the Grand Canyon with us wherever we go. In all its magnificence, it squeezes into any back pocket. I found that we can pull out the Grand Canyon any time, any where we are, by simply sensing the primeval, subtle, mysterious, majestic, wild, and welling energy thrumming through all nature.

My discovery of this portable Grand Canyon is also the Transcendental truth at the center of everything Henry David Thoreau practiced at Walden Pond. Spiritual energy pools in the font of everywhere and springs eternal in the human soul.

Hard to believe? Maybe. But, in fact, you can make contact with that energy right now, right here, right away, even as you read Back to Walden.

Imagine yourself on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and feel the supernatural hum. The hum is out there, drifting on the wind currents. The hum is out there, whooshing in the wing beats of condors. The hum is out there, wafting on the fragrance of sagebrush. The hum is out there, making the immense rock formations tremble with the fragility of water. The hum is out there, flashing in brushstrokes of sienna, ocher, cadmium, amethyst, rouge, and rust that infuse the canyon lands with divinity. The hum is out there, flowing in the Colorado River as it traces lifelines in the palm of existence. The hum is out there, sloshing in the immense silence. Feel the hum.

To make contact with this flow of life force, you don’t even have to imagine yourself at the Grand Canyon. You can envision the force anywhere you are, sense it in vivo by peering deep within yourself. You can draw upon spiritual energy at any point, as I consciously do many times each day; as I channel the Grand Canyon. It galvanizes your thoughts. It shoots through your nerve endings. It beats through your bloodstream. It fuses you with the cosmos. It confers passionate aliveness.

There’s no reason not to stop at any time and tap into the lovely stuff of infinity. I still do it, much the same as when I worked at Grand Canyon Village.

Nature is the medium for this supernatural pulse. Nature speaks to you in the tongue of mystical energy. The energy dances on incoming tides, along with surf scoters, positive ions, ancient secrets, extinct species, dead languages. It kindles heaven with heat lightning. It translates the babble of a forest brook. It warbles through the sound waves of birdsong. It finger-paints the sky with Northern Lights. It rides the wake of water striders on Walden Pond. It strums the arpeggio of evening crickets. It wets your brow with morning dew. It perfumes the breezes. It’s anywhere.

Though poets, painters, hikers, philosophers, mystics, monks, yogis, priests, naturalists, sailors, shamans, healers, trekkers, pilgrims, runners, explorers, mountain climbers, astronauts, and other seekers of every kind have sensed this ubiquitous force for many thousands of years, spiritual energy has always persisted as one of life’s sacred mysteries.

It’s an inscrutability that arcs between two vast and pervasive questions: “Where did I come from?” and “Where am I going?”

These seething spiritual vibrations have been sensed since time immemorial by numerous sages in numerous civilizations from numerous traditions in numerous altered states. Spiritual energy is known as “Prana” or “Kundalini” in Yoga, “Akasha” in Hinduism and Buddhism, “Chi” or “Qi” in Chinese medicine. Other, more poetic terms from other belief systems include the “current of life,” “élan vital,” “spiritual life force,” “life energy,” “spiritual fire,” “grounded luminosity,” “somatic energies,” “the breath of life,” “auras,” “rays,” “vibrations” (or, in the 1960s, “good vibes!”), “that oceanic feeling,” “subtle energy,” and “the breath of heaven.”

All these concepts of spiritual energy vary in one way or another, yet they are all variations on the same theme.

In fact, this kind of wonder, joy, and abundance, this kind of presence, is what you, yourself, can experience at any time in any place. Simply use your own intuition to appreciate, to breathe in, to sponge up the metaphysical energy around you, within you, without you, and everywhere.

Charles Creekmore is a widely published poet and freelance writer and the author of a 2003 self-help book, Zen and the Art of Diabetes Maintenance. He have written for the New York Times Syndicate, Psychology Today, Travel & Leisure, National Wildlife, Islands, Runner’s World, AARP, the Boston Globe, USA Today, and many other mainstream periodicals. At least 20 literary journals have carried his poetry.


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