The Mobius Strip

“The Möbius strip … can easily be created by taking a paper strip and giving it a half-twist, and then joining the ends of the strip together to form a loop. The Möbius strip has several curious properties. A line drawn starting from the seam down the middle will meet back at the seam but at the “other side”. If continued the line will meet the starting point and will be double the length of the original strip.” Wikipedia

Arrow Peak reflected in the surface of a pond along the Colorado Trail.

Meditations, visions, yearnings, intuitions – all conspired to draw me here to Silverton, Colorado. Forces pulled me here from the other side of the world in a series of events that made no logical sense and ended up costing me almost all of the money I had saved for traveling. And yet, in my moments of greatest clarity I realized that logic has nothing to do with making the decisions that really matter, or it shouldn’t anyway. Lists of pros and cons, factors weighed against each other in some mathematical formula which will somehow lead to the “correct” decision should be discarded completely. This is the old way of thinking about what we are doing, where we are going, or what we should do – the new way needs none of these things, and is not bound or contained by any meticulousness or “reason.” The new way knows what needs to happen, where needs to happen, who needs to be met, and the only true action that needs to be taken is to be sure to stay in the current, not to get dragged off into a swirling, stagnating eddy. Bumping down the river, rock to rock, being mindful to pay attention to where the current bends and twists so as to keep moving forward, progressing, learning. An open heart is the guide…This is the new way, my new way…

Vestal Peak and the Wham Ridge bathed in sunlight.

The current running through our lives is our passions, our interests, the things that make us shiver with anticipation, rub our hands together vigorously and uncontrollably, scream into the wind, jump up and down in a manic frenzy, roll around awake at night, causing us to set our alarms ridiculously early because it’s worth it! These passions are the things that make us no money whatsoever, but we can’t stop doing anyway. Society doesn’t necessarily value or appreciate these things we do; society does not reward us for following our passions. It instead tries to convince us that the time could be spent better another way, that we are somehow falling behind, that our time is worth more than that.

Vestal Peak and Vestal Lake with the Trinity Peaks in the background

But society only exists in the eddies, serenading us from the calmer waters. “Things don’t move here, they stay the same…and we like that…there is security here…why would you want to keep changing?…wouldn’t you rather slow down?…following your passions is for other people…rich people…strong people…talented people…you’ll be safer here, there’s nothing to fear in this calm eddy…settle in…accumulate some things…stay here…” But Odysseus learned that the Sirens are just an illusion, singing their tempting songs. Nothing stays in the eddy forever, all things trapped may swirl around again and again, but eventually the current grabs them and pulls them out. When a fragile yellow aspen leaf gets sucked out of the eddy, it doesn’t kick and scream, mourn, cry; it just floats away.

A wave frozen in stone

I will not fight this current, it can take me wherever it wants to. I will help it show me the way; I will follow my passions. I know where this current is taking me, all rivers end in the same place – the Ocean. I don’t know how the ride will be, don’t know where the turbulent sections lie, where the water will crash over waterfalls, where it will meander lazily through peaceful meadows. But I don’t need to know, the real beauty is in not knowing. If you never know what is about to happen to you (and you don’t, trust me), then every individual moment holds its own beauty of being a magical surprise… Appreciate and enjoy it.

ridgeline

I trot along a jagged broken ridgeline deep in the wilderness. Hours of exertion got me here, and many more hours will be required to get me back out. Tiredness, weariness, perhaps a little bit of doubt and confusion. Look left and see steep cliffs. Look right and see piles of broken loose talus, waiting to tumble downwards. Which way to go? Left doesn’t look so good, neither does right. I could go left, I could also go right. A decision must be made, but how to know which is the correct one? Looking, waiting, staring up at the clouds in the sky, glancing down at the lakes in the basin far below. Suddenly a cairn: two tiny rocks stacked on top of each other by another traveler of this way (whom?), a hundred yards distant, blended into the homogeneous background, but never-the-less twinkling perfectly in my focused vision. Thank you! This is the way, this path leads to the summit. Where else would it go?

steep on both sides…

Life is cyclical: everything travels in a circle, eventually ending up where it began. But what if it actually traveled along a Mobius strip? I had never heard about the Mobius strip before yesterday, when I asked what was the meaning of the name Cafe Mobius, the coffee shop where I lurk when it rains, observing the pulse of this tiny mountain hamlet. The Mobius strip is a circle, a loop, but with one half twist thrown in the middle. Start at any point, travel around the entire loop, and you will inevitably end up back where you started – except you will be on the other side! Thirteen years ago I traveled around the country living out of my car, climbing any rock I could see, following my passion. I did so because I was running away – from expectation, responsibility, a future which felt inevitable in its blandness. One year ago I would run out the door of my house and not stop until I stood atop the summit of Crestone Needle, touching the sky, feeling the wind, following my passion. I did so to escape – from my computer, my desk, the confines of the house, from the burden of having to earn the money to fund the commitments I had undertaken.

the mobius strip

Two big cycles, traveled their complete length to end up at the beginning. But today I find myself on the other side of the strip! The view on this side is better. Today I live out of my car and run up mountains, like I did 13 years ago, like I did last year. I am still following my passion, going with the flow, staying in the current. But I am not running away from anything, yearning for escape. On this side of the Mobius I run to create – a new me, a new life, a new perception and understanding, a new love…