‎”There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” -Nelson Mandela

When you have been working on yourself as long as I have there are certain patterns that repeat themselves over and over again. There is this part of me that wants to stand on the mountainside and sing soprano for the whole universe to hear. That part of me has jumped off mountains in California, galloped an Arabian horse across the desert near the pyramids, repelled off a mountain in Maine, ridden a motorcycle to Key West alone, and rode an elephant in Jaipur, India as a functional quadriplegic. What is also present in me is this part that wants to desperately jump out of my skin and under a rock in reaction to the expansion. The latter impulse is so automatic that it took me many years to even see that pattern. After a lifetime of repeating this pattern, it still takes me by surprise. On a good day I can say, “oh there is an old friend.” At other times, it can take me many days to try to figure out who put this rock on top of me. And the two patterns go hand-in-hand. Expansion-contraction, expansion-contraction.

After receiving feedback from many people reading my blog and hearing how profoundly it is touching some people, I am both honored and horrified. I can see that the automatic pattern wants to kick in. I can feel the shadow cast over me from the rock that is wanting to cover me. I often hear that becoming aware of it is half of the work. Well I couldn’t be more aware and still my arms are tired from keeping the rock at bay.

I have spent the last fourteen months in Pennsylvania where I grew up. For forty years I visited this place and for forty years I lived a separate life. Pennsylvania was part of my roots, but Pennsylvania was not part of my core. During my first healing pilgrimage to India in 2010, I clearly heard that the next part of the journey needed to happen in my place of birth. What was essential to my recovery was for me to clearly know who I am. If I can know who I am in Pennsylvania, I will know who I am anywhere.

It has been in Pennsylvania where I have deepened my meditation practice. I can clearly hear the guidance and for the first time I’m trusting my own inner authority. This has been a major teaching in my life. I remember in elementary school I would copy from my neighbor’s paper. His name was R. Tillberry and he was learning disabled. I copied from him because at least he was a person.  Now, in Pennsylvania, I too have become a person, and I have been liberated.