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As a gift of unimaginable proportions I was fortunate enough to be invited to house-sit for a friend of mine who lives in the Ojai Valley. The house, situated in the woods, held an extraordinary view of the mountains in the distance and from their porch there was not much else that you could witness beyond nature’s infinite miracles. I was enraptured by the intensity of each moment for the entire 3 weeks that I was there.

There were a couple of most curious bits about being in this place. First was the fact that I was in a transitional space, moving from Southern California to the great and lovely San Francisco Bay Area. Entering this transitional space was as if going into incubation … a period of contemplative distance from worldly life before being reborn into a new (yet old) world. The second curious bit about this abundant space was that it was originally owned by a woman who was a fan of the extraordinary Joan Grant. Why is this curious? Well, for starters my friend is the grand daughter of Joan Grant, and – more specifically to why I’m taking time away from studying to write this – she wrote mostly on her experience of her own past lives and extrasensory perception.

As I reflect back to those three weeks, I am now acutely aware that death has been calling my attention for a while now, and I am just now – truly – giving it the attention it deserves.

I would walk through this house, as it still had the original furnishings and all her books, in a trance-like space, opening myself up to whatever learnings were ready to fall into my awareness. There were many. One of the first was simplicity. As I sat there one night, looking up at the star-littered sky – without a street lamp in sight – I questioned why it is that we choose to live any other way than in rhythm with nature and it’s simple ability to move us through existence. I questioned why our heads become more complicated than our hearts and why we bicker over the inconsequentials that fade away with death. I sat in this space that is now owned by an English woman and a man from New Zealand (little more on this country in Part 2) and truly questioned why we put so much stress on attainment when all that we need exists right before our eyes.

Beyond this, matters of authenticity began to creep into my body and awareness. Here was a woman, in Joan Grant, with an uncommon gift – which probably felt like a burden at times – but had to carry this with extreme grace in order to share the gift of understanding with others. Authenticity. How do we truly live into the fullness of who we are, unabashedly? This question may be the most important question we answer for our time on earth, as integrity is our most important walking stick.

It was not coincidental that the woman that originally owned the house also studied the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti (lived in Ojai), who has been a consistent teacher on my life path for the last 17 years. WIthout question she had attended many of his talks on “Freedom From The Known” and psychological revolution, and here I was in their shadow. Incredible blessing.

It is only natural that we walk in the shadow of death. We don’t live without the death and life of others. We carry the the history of an ancient humanity with us every step of our journey. Understanding this simple truth is the trick.

Yes, those three weeks were extraordinary and although I was able to swim, get back in my body, and nestle into this transitional space – the impression that these women and their lives left on me is still echoing. I’m not wholly convinced on past lives, although I have always felt some sense of the ancestral – and it was definitely present within that space. What I do know is that we are here, now, even if this being-in-the-world is temporary.

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(Please check the second leg of this journey in Part 2)

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