Shitless

Fear,
you spiral upward and down
the flip side of my core
and now unleashing you
letting the lid  of Pandora fly,

I find solitude…….

I’m afraid,
of losing drive,
driving out of control,
hitting brick walls,
and completely
losing
focus.

I’m afraid,
of brightest lights,
having no talent,
being pricked
with needles of eyes.

Afraid of falling on ice
in a short skirt,
falling from vertiginous heights,
falling in love.

I am afraid of trusting,
having faith,
of not being caught,
of being held down,
being held back,
and being left out.

I’m afraid of showing my woman,
my child,
and never enough lady.

Afraid of sinking into
and settling for.

I’m afraid
of being disrespected,
disrespectful,
being nice,
being a bitch.

I’m afraid of being ample,
inadequate,
being completely misunderstood,
and never showing enough slip.

I’m afraid of being found out,
exposed heart,
shining my truest alma.

Afraid of average,
every girl,
everyday,
ordinary.

I’m afraid of dark cold water,
walking on the street alone
in the green-tinged hours of morning.

I am afraid of being left
and floating in the
grayest ambiguity
of leaving.

Terrified!
of what ifs,
should haves,
could haves.

I’m afraid
of being led astray,
of straying from my heart,
and turning on my soul.

You ask, “are you ever scared?”
I turn to you,
reply in one breath
one word…shitless.

copyright 2009  Jennifer Brinn

Panhandler

Cemented
at the intersection of Divisadero
and Fell a fallen angel waits.
One hand open, one hand clapping
the side of his thigh, gnarled at the knee.

A bowl of soup, a piece of bread,
a home, glowing from within
welcomes you, a place to hang your hat
from the sheets of rain, shards of heat, stench of exhaust,
sneers of others who will never know your name.

Your face, an angry sea
twisted by time and trauma
encompass the glaze of your eyes
affixed to no-thing and no-where.

Who threw you away, sweet one?
Let your leathered skin be oiled
your feet be anointed, bathed in rose water
and milk.

Come inside from your poverty,
restraints of your reality.
Detach yourself from the incapacity
of those who hung their old coats on you
with their this ways and thats

Launch! from the tangle of this downward serpent
and bob your head to the surface of this life..your life

Own it now and take your seat.
One step from cement into
the cathedral of stillness,
erect yourself in the pew
worn with familiar patina.
In this place of the hush
in this place of the arms,
will you hear the wisdom of your wellspring
and step forward into the truest potential of your light.

copyright 2013 ~ Jennifer Brinn

Touching the Base

Touching the Base

lassen

 

When I read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed about six months ago my thoughts were, “Wow what an amazing journey this woman embarked upon.” If you haven’t read it, it’s the memoir of a woman in her mid 20s venturing out solo on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Cascades of Oregon. Remarkable, yet all the while, a parallel thought was running along, saying, “That will never be me, no way in HELL!” I finished the book, put it on the shelf and forgot about it until last week.

Last week my family and I headed out to the mountains. We had reservations for ‘glamping’ at a sweet little guest ranch in the Warner Valley of Mt. Lassen National Park. Our cabin was outfitted with a full bath, hot shower, comfy beds and kerosene lamps. The dining hall served up three gourmet meals every day with a wine list to match. We went there for some family time, just to get away, do some hiking, swimming, get off the grid and pay attention to each other.

One of the extraordinary things about this spot was that it is a thoroughfare for many thru-hikers in the wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail. Can I tell you these people were amazing! Men and women, traveling in pairs, small groups and even solo wandered onto the guest ranch looking forward to a swim in the pool, hot shower, good food and even a most-coveted popsicle.

These people became easy to identify as they strode into the ranch with forty-pound packs on their backs. They have a certain gait, some might even call it a hobble. Yet they wear it and all the blisters, scrapes, bruises as badges of honor. As well they should, because most of them just hiked up from the CA/Mexico border for over the past three months. We met one woman from Holland, a yoga teacher, deciding to hike the trail solo. She began in Washington and was making her way down to the Mexican border. We met a 41 year-old guy who had quit his job, sold everything, flew across the country and was deep in an existential crisis about why he was doing this, primarily because of the triple blisters on the balls of his feet which were taking him out of the game for three days until he healed.

There must have been at least twenty hikers who came through and while I marveled at each of them, I still wasn’t fully getting why they were doing it. Why would anyone put themselves through that kind of physical and emotional torture? They shared about how their thoughts while hiking were incessant of how many miles they have to go, how heavy their packs were, when their next shower will be, when they can get their hands on an ice-cream bar! They shared the mind tricks to get them through the last five miles of the day. Along with some pretty harrowing tales from near-death slips to up-close bear encounters, they also shared tales of the ‘trail angels’, people who had helped them along the way with rides into towns, home-cooked meals, supplies, etc. My beau and I became such angels to two hikers whom we offered the shower and fresh towels in our cabin. They were incredibly grateful to receive such a gift and we were elated to see their transformation from weary to invigorated. We heard about the moments of zen when all the pain begins to fade away and their true spirit takes hold and guides them. And I suppose that’s when I got it. The breakthrough moment of when you feel so broken that there is nowhere to go but up…literally! I would imagine doing a trek like this, or anything that challenges you to the brink of intense internal questioning brings you to a place of not only surpassing your limits, but a deep devotional surrender.

We hiked small day hikes while in Lassen to many of the hydrothermal features. We saw some breathtaking views. There is something about walking in the forest, hearing absolutely nothing but birdsong and your own breath that is so grounding and uplifting. There is a spiritual component to hiking, wandering on the long journeys, being off the grid and living in a way that has always been possible, but we’ve become so challenged by. It’s a touching down to our inherent basecamp within all of us. The place which tells us not only that anything is possible, but so available!

As we returned from the trip, we rode down from 8500ft altitude and back into Marin County. There was an acclimation period in which I resisted coming home, back into the buzz of the Bay Area. Yet with me I took the inspiration these trekkers anointed me. I immediately looked up the 2600-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail. And while there was still a ‘HELL no!’ coming from my body, there was a audible, ‘hmmm…mayBE’ as I read about the 226-mile John Muir Trail. I’ll keep you posted!

 

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