There’s a Bluebird in My Heart

I forgot to mention this earlier, but the night I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and was checking out a shelter spot in this small valley, I prayed to the spirits, asking if this was an OK place to sleep. The first message I got was Look for the sign. I asked for clarification and got This is fine.

The next morning, as I was packing up, I saw a bluebird land in a bush nearby.

The bluebird is a significant bird to me because 1). The poem by Charles Bukowski titled “Bluebird” is one of my favorites and 2). I saw the movie K-Pax right before I left for San Francisco, and in the movie, Kevin Spacey’s alien character instructs a mental hospital patient to find “the Bluebird of Happiness” as the first step towards achieving inner peace.

Honestly, I’m not sure if the bird I saw was a bluebird or not. All I know is that it was blue, it was a bird, and that was good enough for me.

And that’s how the bluebird became the official bird of my pilgrimage.

Now whenever I see it, I take it as a sign of happiness and hope.

There’s a
bluebird in
in my heart
that wanted
to get out
so finally I
let him out
and it was very nice
to have him out
and I laughed
and smiled a lot
and yes, Charles,
I do weep
too.

Another Update

So here’s the deal:

The first three days, I was able to post updates on my travels fairly regularly. By Day 4, things started to get intense and I found that I wasn’t able to keep up with my posting schedule and still deal with various obstacles and opportunities that were arising.

So what I’m doing now is posting more current updates on my Facebook and Twitter page, and on the blog I’ll post more in-depth details of events, though they’ll be several days behind.

Shelter, Shelter

Well, friends, I guess when I first started out, I started out in an upswing. For three days, things have worked out magically.

Now I’m meeting some resistance.  I wish I could go in more detail, I wish I could lay out the story for you as I have done in past posts, but I don’t have the mental energy and only have a half hour on this computer.  But I didn’t want to fall behind on posts. I wanted to leave you with something.

Didn’t sleep much last night on account of the rain in Marin City. Went to church this morning, got fed, and really needed it. Uplifted my spirits for the most part. Leonard contacted me and offered me a lift to San Rafael, where I am now.  Don’t really know the city too well.  I just sorta landed here.

The biggest challenge right now is finding adequate shelter so that I can sleep. I’m all set on food. I’m all set on water. Got a fresh pair of clothes in my bag (I THINK they’re fresh). I just need shelter now, so that I can sleep. 

Shelter, shelter.

God, be my light and show me where thy hidden fortress lies, so that I may rest my wearied brow and dream like I did when I was a child.

Amen.

Boat

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04/26/14

Marin City, CA

 

The rain was coming down hard and fierce, and I made for the awning of a 7-11 for shelter. There I met a young black kid named Eric and his dog Triptor. They were headed north, towards Arcata.

“I could use a road dog,” said Eric. “If you wanna roll with me.”

I told him I’d travel with him as far as Marin and then we’d see.

We walked together and I was sorta glad to find him and also kinda regretting it.  He started telling me his life story, in a very animated and aggressive fashion. He complimented every woman we walked past on her beauty – sometimes striking the right note of courtesy and sometimes being downright rude.  On the whole, his energy was all over the place and I was finding it difficult to maintain my normally serene (ha!) state of mind. But I felt it was important for me to get to know him, even if it made me uncomfortable.

He turned out to be a deeply thoughtful, spiritual, and politically conscious person.  He confessed that he felt a lot of hurt inside; he felt he’d done his best to be a good person – he even moved out here from the east coast  help out a friend, and after he did, the friend ended up screwing him over and turning him out on the street.  So he was on his way north to work on a cannabis farm.  He was a strong young man, a warrior, and being with him helped force me to be more grounded myself.

After we reached Marin City, I decided I needed to continue on alone. I could see the disappointment on his face, and I felt really bad, but again, had to go with my gut.  I hugged him and wished him luck and thanked him for teaching me some valuable lessons.

The rain was still coming down, and the churches I went to were all empty, so I found shelter at a Panda Express and treated myself to a hot meal, which lifted my spirits. Then got an email from Leonard back in Sausalito – he told me to crash at that squatter’s apartment to avoid the rain.  I tried to politely decline, saying I didn’t want to backtrack, but he insisted I should come back and that he’d treat me to dinner.  Honestly, what won me over was that he was really trying to be generous and I felt I needed to accept.

I walked back to Sausalito, and the rain stopped, mercifully.  I returned to the apartment. The stench was overwhelming.  I tried getting into the top floor of the building but it was locked.  I really really really really didn’t want to stay in this place.

I left, sat down in a park, and wrote Leonard an email, thanking him for everything, but that I couldn’t stay in the apartment. It just gave me a bad vibe. I didn’t mind sleeping in the dirt, but the place was totally filthy, and I just didn’t like the energy of it.

I walked to the restaurant where I was supposed to meet him and grabbed a table.  A jazz band set up next to me and began a set. They were pretty good.  My waitresses name was Sonia; she was from Siberia. She saw my hiking bag and got excited.  Said she was working to earn some money, but soon she was going to be traveling across the country on her bike.  She was very beautiful.

Leonard showed up and tried to convince me to take the apartment; he said if he could get me to the top floor, the smell wouldn’t be so bad. I refused as politely as I could. I could see him get exasperated: “I just want you to have what’s available!”  I was really feeling guilty, but I stuck to my guns.

“So what’ll you do?” he said.  “‘Cause it’s gonna rain.”
I told him I’d hike back to a church in Marin and set up my tarp shelter for the night and just wait it out.

He thought for a minute and said, “Would you sleep on a boat?”

I blinked. “A boat?” I said.

“Yep. I got a boat down by the pier. We had a bad experience the last time we let someone sleep on it because they had a dog, but you don’t have a dog, so I think it’ll be fine.”

I told him that sounded great.  He left and came back with the 5-year-old girl he was babysitting – her name was Christy and she was incredibly precocious.  She grabbed the tip jar of the jazz band and walked around collecting tips on their behalf.  When she heard I was sleeping on the boat that night, her eyes got so wide and she said in disbelief, “YOU ARE???”   It was hilarious.

Leonard gave me some money earlier to get a drink, which I did (a strawberry smoothie). I tried to give him back his change, but he refused it, saying I would need breakfast in the morning.

We drove down to the pier, and after a finding the door to the cabin locked, we drove back to his house, got the key, returned to the boat, and I was able to get in.

As I was climbing in, Christy said to me, “Daryl…so if you’re sleeping on this boat, do you not have a home?”

“Well,” I said, “The earth is my home.”

“Does that mean you sleep outside sometimes?” she said.

“Sometimes.”

“So Daryl, if the earth is your home, does that mean you sleep in the water too?”

“Do you have a home, Christy?”

“Yes!”

“And do you sleep in your toilet?”

She laughed.  “Noooo!”

“No, I don’t sleep in the water,” I said.

I said goodbye to them and thanked Leonard profusely for his kindness. After they left, I closed the hatch and looked around.

 

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“I’m in a boat,” I said to myself.  “Okay.”

I slept well.  And funny thing was, it didn’t rain at all.

Woke up this morning and it was very cold, but finally got warmed up by the rising sun.  I packed up, and decided to leave my third and final power object behind: my rattle.  I left a note for Leonard, thanking him and explaining why the rattle was there.

Hiked back into Marin City, where I am now using the library’s computer.  Today I think will be a long day of walking as I make my way into Strawberry, CA.

The Least of These Brothers and Sisters of Mine

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04/25/14

Sausalito, CA

After I left the library yesterday I decided to try to find shelter at a church for the day and evening. I’d debated whether or not to seek shelter at churches, thinking maybe I should just let shelter “come to me” if I needed it. But I recalled a dream I had in which I was scared and was losing faith, and I saw a church ahead of me, and I wanted to make it there.  That and the church’s stated mission is to be a comfort to the weary.  Well, I was wearied and needed comforting so it seemed a good match.

I started walking to the closest church when a guy climbing out of a parked blue sports car asked me where I was traveling.  I told him about my pilgrimage and said I was looking for churches.  He told me there was one on the hill up ahead, but that it was probably closed, but if I didn’t mind waiting for him, he could give me a lift to the other ones in another part of town.

I checked the church on the hill.  Empty.  Went back to where the guy’s car was parked and waited. He came back with his fiance and a friend of theirs and we talked briefly. They were all very friendly and wished me luck.

The guy – we’ll call him “Leonard” – drove me to one church, but no one was there. He then said that if I needed a place to stay, he knew of an abandoned building where a painter was squatting.

“Let’s go see it,” I said.

He drove us there, and we saw the painter across the street, hanging out near the dumpster of a small Italian restaurant.  “Hey!” said Leonard, trying to get his attention, calling him by name.

The painter just stared at us for a long moment.  Then he disappeared behind the restaurant.

“Fuck him,” said Leonard.  “He knows we’re trying to get you in there. He just doesn’t want to share the place.  Come on, let’s go check it out.”

We walked up the stairs and into the apartment. It was a nice looking apartment.  There was a pile of trash in front of the front door.

“Unbelievable!” said Leonard.  “What a pig!”

Leonard tried one of the doors but it wass locked.  The window next to the door wa sopen.  He climbed through the window and unlocked the door from the inside, letting me in.

I entered, and although I can’t be sure, I think I smell gas.

The painter’s things were strewn all over the room.  There was a green slice of pizza on the floor.

“Unbelievable,” said Leonard.  “This is such a nice place, I can’t believe he’s treated it this way.”

There’s no running water, but the lights still worked.  Leonard turned on the stove and it lighted.  “Well, you got gas!” he said happily.  I want to say that I think I smell gas, but I feel like maybe I’m just imagining things and I don’t want to come off as being overly skittish and paranoid.

We found a room that is fairly empty and clean. I put my stuff down.  Leonard went downstairs to explore the bathroom.  I smelled a powerful stench coming from there.  He came back up.  “You don’t want to go down there,” he says.

I start picking up my things.  “You know…I think I’m going to take my chances with the churches,” I said.

We left.  I felt bad. I felt like Leonard was really happy to have been able to introduce me to this place, and that I’ve disappointed him somewhat by not staying. I’m also concerned that I look like a coward for not being tough enough to tough it out in this weird-ass apartment. After all, it’s a free place to stay, and it is going to rain tonight. Beggars can’t be choosers.

But I remember when I first entered the place, I prayed to the spirits “What do you think of this place?”  The response I got was, “More importantly, what do YOU think?”

I didn’t like it.  It gave me a bad vibe. It was gut level thing. I got better vibes from the place I stayed the night before, in the valley, and I was way more exposed out there.

Leonard was kind enough to drive me to the next church, and then told me to email him and he’d see where/when one of these churches was serving food.  A very nice guy.

No one was at the church he dropped me off at, so I went to the next one.  To get there, I had to travel down a lane that looked like this.20140425-104058.jpg

Already I had a good feeling about.

The pastor wasn’t there, but the person in the office – Barbara – gave me some macaroons and some water. I sat outside and waited for the pastor to return. It got cold, so Barbara told me to come inside.  She gave me some hot chocolate and cookies and let me sit on the couch.  I played “Sweet Hour of Prayer” on the piano that was nearby.  It was getting near 5 pm now, and Barbara needed to close the office.  She said the pastor would call me. I gave her my number to text him. Then she and I talked about writing – she said she wanted to start doing it – and I gave her what few tips I’ve accumulated so far.

I waited under the awning of another church as it began to rain.  I chewed on a piece of dried fruit. “If I ever have a hamburger again,” I said to myself, “It’s going to taste so good.”

I was mentally preparing myself for a long night outside, when I got a call from the pastor.  I told him about my pilgrimage and he invited me back to the church.  I came back, met him, and we talked in his office for a good while.  We were later joined by one of the members of the choir, and the three of us continued talking.  Really great conversation – just what I needed.  The choir member took me out for – yep, you guessed it – a hamburger.

Delicious. It kinda upset my stomach afterwards, but was totally worth it.

I told the pastor that if I could just set up my tarp outside the church, that’d be great, but he took it a step further. He invited me to stay at his home. I got to clean myself and my clothes (we both needed it), and sleep on a couch!  The pastor’s partner commented that my mask was beautiful.

“It’s yours if you want it,” I said.

They said they would certainly keep it for me if I was tired of lugging it around, and that if I wanted it back, to just email them and they’d mail it to me. I don’t think I’ll be doing that, but then again, I never thought I’d be walking on another pilgrimage either.

I woke up this morning, refreshed and with a renewed faith in the gospel of Jesus and the kingdom of God. The pastor gave me some money before we parted ways. I couldn’t stop thanking him.  He hugged me and prayed over me. It was hard not to cry.

So here I am, back at the library, now headed for Marin City.  I’m a little worried about shelter because it’s still raining outside, but God has come through for me in such a big way already. If I can just make it through today and tonight, the sun will come out tomorrow.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25: 34-40)

 

 

Crossing the Bridge

04/24/14

Sausalito, CA

At the library right now. Totally exhausted, but feeling good.

I underestimated just how long the trip from mid-town San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge and across would be. I mean, I looked at the mileage and thought, “Ummm…yeah that’s a bit of a trek.”  But you don’t really KNOW until you do it.

While on the way to the bridge, I really started to feel the weight of my bag and I thought, “I have to get rid of the drum.”  It felt right…as if I’d known it all along but just hadn’t admitted it to myself.  I needed to start letting go of the things that I didn’t need.  The drum had served me well, but it was time to let it go.

I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and tried to give it away, for free.  Three people said, “No thanks.”  The fourth one was a musician who said he needed a drum for one of his bandmates, one that was smaller than the one they were using. He said this one would work perfectly.  I got really emotional and almost started crying as I gave it to him.  He said it would have a rack in his studio, all to itself.  That made me feel better.

I felt much lighter and stronger after that.  I think my mask might be next.  But not quite yet…

I knew that the pedestrian path on the Golden Gate Bridge closed at either 5:30 or 9 – I wasn’t sure.  But it was going on 4, so I tried to move as fast as possible.

Finally reached the bridge and was greeted by a Threshold Guardian in the form of a bike cop.  “Hey there, buddy,” he said, trying to be courteous.  He pointed to my walking stick.  “What’s that stick for?”
“For walking,” I said.
“Just hiking and stuff?”
“Yep.”
“Okay. Have a good one.”
He rode off.

Made it across the bridge, dead tired, and collapsed at a nearby lookout point/park. I think there was something psychologically satisfying about crossing the bridge – like things are really beginning now.

I continued on down the road by the side of the highway, spoke briefly to a hitchhiker and his dog.  He’d been waiting at the on-ramp for an hour, trying to hitch a ride. I thought about following suit, but as the sun was going down and I was tired, I felt the wisest thing to do was to seek shelter before it go too dark.

I found a little valley by the side of the highway.  Took me about an hour to set up my tarp shelter, because I was on a slight incline and couldn’t get the configuration right. I was stomping on a lot of vegetation while I worked and felt really bad about it.  I addressed the spirits of the land, asking for forgiveness, and I made a water offering to the tree I was setting up shelter under. Not sure if that made a difference, but I hope it helped.

I had trouble sleeping as I was constantly paranoid about someone finding me down there.  At one point, I heard tires screech and a loud CRASH on the highway. It sounded bad. I hoped no one died, and I also prayed the cars didn’t tumble off the road and land on top of me.  Then I saw the flashing police lights across the ceiling of my tent, and I muttered all kinds of curses.  But I was in a fairly concealed area and nobody noticed me. I just made it a point not to leave the shelter or use my flashlight.

I did hear some moving through the bushes nearby and that set all my nerves on fire. I didn’t think I’d ever fall asleep. But I managed to doze a little and had some rather intense dreams.

A little after the sun came up, I broke camp and headed into Sausalito.  I’m really beat today, not sure if I can do much heavy walking. May try to find shelter at a church this afternoon.  But we’ll see. As the Lord wills.

Some Thoughts

The fear is still there. Still learning to just ride it out. I am realizing how tense I am all the time, how I don’t like to let myself  feel anything. Trying to do more of that and just surrender.  There is a lot of grasping that mind is doing:  “What will I eat? Where will I sleep tonight?” I keep wanting the people I pass to stop and say, “Hello there, traveler. You looked tired.  Where are you headed?  Do you have time to stop for a hot meal and a shower? Maybe even a nap?”  Trying not to judge myself for that, but just observe that as well.

In a way, having the spirits with me is enough. Last night, while I was tossing and turning in the tent, they were working on my energy body, particularly my legs and buttocks. It was extremely painful, and I was constantly gritting my teeth.  But I think it helped. I’m not nearly as sore today as I should be.

I couldn’t do this without them.

All and all, trying to just be, to feel the flow of the Tao and not grasp too much after things. I keep running into places that have free water. My food supply is lasting much longer that I predicted, now that I’m only eating when I need to (which, for now, isn’t too often). The greatest source of my fear is finding shelter and getting adequate rest.  But I suppose that will come when I need it as well, just as long as I stay in tune with the Spirit.

 

Threshold

04/23/14

Fear was strong this morning. Mornings are the worst. It’s starting to feel almost like a routine. I wake up and the negative self-talk starts, gets really vicious, then recedes, then I feel the love and strength of my spirit allies pouring into me.

I finally managed to get to my feet and repeat to myself, “The kingdom. That’s what I’m after. I’m seeking the kingdom of God first. So where is it.  Where is the kingdom?”

Then I turned to my left and saw this on the wall:

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Ah, yes.  This is what Jesus says in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas: that the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth but we don’t see it.

Shelley and I exchanged  a tearful goodbye.  She left for work, and I stayed behind, getting all my stuff ready.  Heading for the Golden Gate Bridge now.

It’s been a luxury to be able to blog as much as I have.  Not sure when I’ll have internet access again, but I will provide updates as soon as I can.