here's a story I used to love to tell my younger students because they still had great imaginations and hadn't "figured everything out" already like older folks and scientists. It starts when I was back in college. I had just finished my first year there and I was feeling really inspired, having lot of fun partying and trying out new ideas. But as I stood out on a beautiful campus balcony on one late spring evening, I still felt there was something missing.
The very next day, as I was driving up to the college along my street I saw something flashing out of the corner of my eye. It was a shiny, bright motorcycle of a medium size and as I got closer I saw a "FOR SALE" sign on it. Whoa...my heart kind of leapt for a second 'cause I had never really ridden much before and always wanted to take the plunge someday. With four months of summer holidays ahead of me, I suddenly had the crazy idea of buying that bike and exploring the great country of Canada, which is my home.
And then, to my own surprise, a few weeks later, I actually did it! I bought that motor cycle and after finishing up my final exams, just like that, I was gone on an aimless path towards the Rocky Mountains, which were about seven hundred kilometres east from my home town of Kamloops, BC. With a tent and my acoustic guitar strapped onto the back of my bike, I made my way into the beautiful, majestic Rocky Mountains and just explored everywhere from Banff to Jasper National Parks. During these high times, I felt a satisfaction like I'd been longing for all my life. I was living with the perfect lover, it seemed; one who understood me and really rubbed me the right way. As I extended myself in the summer warmth, I made dozens of awesome friends at each campsite where I would stay, meditate and improvise sing-a-longs; which seemed to always echo the presence of an interconnected, soulful divinity. I lived like a gypsy for the duration and similar souls were so easy to find, especially the ones who shared this campfire rocky-mountain-music-high like myself. And although I never felt better in my life, I still felt as though there was something more to be discovered because of a particular dream I had one night in my tent.
I saw this large, mysterious looking mountain with a snowy peak....and I had a desperate and joyous urge to go up it....but then I awoke in my sleeping bag.
I had more or less forgotten about it until I was gliding down the road again in the morning. I had drunken so much coffee on this one fortuitous morning thanks to a sweet European couple who had generously ground and shared a large pot. It was a fine morning indeed and as I was drifting down the road I felt a slight discomfort below the waist. Nature really was calling me. So I waited 'till the traffic died down and then pulled over. I slowly made my way down a flower-filled embankment into a meadow, where I proceeded to relieve myself. I marvelled and chuckled as I looked at the glistening golden color as it came arcing out in the morning sunshine. Even more impressive was this little misty rainbow projecting down to the grass on the right side. Just at that moment, call it Providence; I saw something sticking out from behind some flowers. I picked it up what appeared to be an old traveller's brochure with these happy words on the front: "Come to Marshmallow Mountain." Suddenly it triggered my memory of the dream-mountain from the previous night and I found myself really engrossed in the old and weathered travel map in my hands. The funny thing was, as I opened it up, only the main highway was shown, weaving between mountains; none of which had names written on them. Nor did I recognize a single thing. But making the connection with the map and the dream did, however, produce one very obvious thing: a rather magical energy suddenly seemed to be vibrating inside of me in a very excited state and its effects were very euphoric and inspiring!
Rather disappointed without being able to ascertain the mountain's location, though none the less curious, I travelled on into the beautiful unknown. Once again, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a mountain which kind of resembled the one in my dreams and in the brochure.
Personal Note: The corner of my eye; even this I feel I should say something about because these moments never seem to occur as I directly look at something with my total, concentrated focus. But it's always as I'm looking elsewhere and thinking of something else, that these energies seem to suddenly manifest themselves into consciousness…
I ventured off the main road towards this mysterious-looking mountain. But still no signs. I wouldn't have wanted to make my own trail up the mountain, as it looked a little too dangerous. So I puttered on down the road and to my surprise, I did come to a very small opening in the densely forested foot of the mountain. Could this be it? I curiously continued forward and came to a very rickety, old path leading up the mountain-side. Was this a portal to an alternate universe I humorously pondered as I started my ascent. I had just come around the first bend on my bike when I saw a sign, the first sign of anything. But I was surprised to see it said:
The Unknown Road
Whoa! Travelling by foot was something I hadn't expected. However, I had already packed my lunch for the day, so with a deep breath of mountain-fresh air, I hid my bike in the forest and proceeded up the slope.
There wasn't another person to be seen for miles, as often is the case in Canada, but there was surely no shortage of wild life. Deer, sheep, foxes, rabbits and every kind of creature seemed to be thriving here and welcoming me on my journey. All the while, that mysterious energy inside too was building, as though I was hopefully nearing its source. I could hardly wait to discover the meaning of this mystery which was calling me. I was in for a bit of a surprise though when I saw a second sign much further up the trail. This time, however, what I saw alarmed me! In foreboding manner it read:
“Ha ha ha. Troll? What kind of joke was this?” I laughed to myself. Fears were one more thing I hadn't bet on as I stood on the mountain path look down on the great valley below from where I'd come and suddenly contemplated the situation. And as funny as it sounded, my imagination was starting to get a little carried away. Like of course there's no such thing as 'trolls', but still why would there be a sign like that? Was I really in an alternate universe? I had been joking to myself previously! Being all by myself though reminded me of the old saying "If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?" Would anybody know if I just disappeared here? It sure made me think about the beautiful landscape in an entirely different light, rather unpleasant through the eyes of fear you might say. I don't know how I could have lost my confidence so fast, and I had almost decided to turn back from this little bout of anxiety, but then I decided to press on, at the advice of my wise grandmother who always encouraged us to face our fears.
On I went, making record time, anxious to get over this peculiar curiosity which now befell me. Up ahead the road began to get narrow and it was working its way around the edge of a cliff, a pretty hairy turn indeed. But just then, I was startled and jumped backwards when I saw this big greasy, half human, half..."I don't know what" kind of creature leap out at me. My heart was pounding, uncontrollably, as I started to realize my worst fears.
"Yo..!" he said to me in an oddly familiar, tyrannical tone. Now after his first words my fears considerably subsided as I got the impression that instead of your typical story-book-troll, what stood in front of me, more fit the description of a “Night Club Bouncer” kind of troll.
And then, true enough to my imaginings, he snorted out with a raspy voice, "The only way to pass through here is by purchasing one of my "Lil baggies", heh heh heh!" and with that, he opened up his, stomach pouch, which he eyed very obsessively. "Today's price is a hundred dollars!" he said tapping his finger and looking down on me like I was supposed to cough it up.
I couldn't believe the nerve of this guy and he really did remind me of one of those self-proclaimed Czars one often meets at a nightclub door, who might let in some beautiful girls or celebrities, but not you. In fact, he reminded me of all the powers that be, in all of their unjust, tyrannical forms.
The way he stood there obsessing over his precious bag, it seemed like his whole life was contained in it. And his snarly, conceited look on his face with that greased, black hair really made me boil and shake. But also, and most importantly, I simply didn't believe in his way to the top and I wasn't buying it for sure.
So, with a very uncharacteristic reflex, out of anger, I suddenly snatched his bag and threw it over the edge of the mountain! And, wouldn't you know it? This big giant of a guy, actually, dove after it, to his own untimely death. Some people, eh?
So, as it turned out, I didn't have to buy his "Lil Baggy" to continue my journey after all and I was really quite happy to discover that!
Not Your Fool
With that great hurdle out of my way, I started to jog up the mountain and before long I reached the white stuff on the ground. If this was Marshmallow Mountain, I thought I'd have to get a taste of it. Surprisingly, it really was sweet and refreshing too. Whatever it was it pure and real and it gave me enough energy to carry on and actually increased my speed. As a matter of fact, it felt rather like I was floating, taking huge giant steps with each great stride.
As I came around the very last slope, it all opened up into, what I could only describe as a "Fun land" for children. There were scores of kids all playing, laughing and having fun. And as I looked more carefully, I couldn't see one unhappy face. Nor did I even see one incidence of bullying either. No bad energy at all. It was pure happiness and as I stood there, I wept a tear as my own forgotten childhood had suddenly come back to me, my lost innocence. What a wonderful scene it was I concluded! And there was glowing warmth there in spite of the abundance of marshmallow-snow. I could have stayed for hours, and in fact, I wanted to play with the kids too if they didn't mind. But I heard a bit of a cry from up in the sky and as I looked up I saw a great bird circling, an eagle, without a doubt.
What a graceful creature it was! I followed with my eyes as it swooped around and then descended on the peak of the mountain, which extended up perhaps another five hundred meters. As he came down I saw him drop into a little dark space, which could only be the entrance of a cave. Wow, just then a rush of excitement flooded over me as I imagined that hidden inside such a special mountain, there might actually be some kind of treasure. So off I went, running up the hillside until at last I came to the cave.
Obviously it was no ordinary cave, mind you. As I walked down an icy passage way, a rich sweet smell was wafting out towards me. "How fantastic!" I thought as hurried onward. There was glowing up ahead. Yes, light at the end of this dark tunnel on the second turn and I could see it opening up as well! I dashed down to the end, and suddenly, realizing I couldn't stop and slid right out of the icy end. Fortunately I landed OK on these hard, but slippery, brown rocks, or were they frozen brown ice-burgs, 'cause I could see them floating in front of me in a small, dark body of water or liquid. Hmm....I stood there puzzling.
"What a nice smelling lake!" I thought. I instinctively dipped my finger in to give it a taste and was astonished to realize it was actually chocolate, a real Chocolate Lake! As my eyes became adjusted in this inner-mountain-chamber, I stepped around the embankment to see that the source of the light (and apparently the source of the energy which was now vibrating madly inside of me) was coming from a big, beautiful fire at the center of this lake and, obviously, it was this lovely fire which was melting these rich chocolate ice-burgs, floating right in front of me. The fire was so wonderful to gaze upon, like nothing I'd ever seen. I just had to get a closer look. I looked around and leaped onto a long piece of floating chocolate-ice and started to paddle inward with my hands. As I got closer I felt very, very cozy while lovely colored flames danced about me in enchanting ways, which seemed to invite my sweetest daydreams. I might have even fallen asleep except that the chocolate ice I had been comfortably perched upon had started to melt and I suddenly slipped and slid right into the chocolate lake!
I might have even been a goner there splashing around in this deep, rich chocolate were it not for a mysterious old man who appeared off to the side. He was chuckling as he walked into the lake which only seemed to come up to his ankles, oddly enough. He extended me his warm hand and pulled me out.
After the chocolate dried on my skin, I sat there staring, amused with the old guy, and he with me. He didn't need to really say anything. He was just there knowing and understanding and finding humor in the situation. At last, I broke the silence and asked him what this place was.
The Heart of a Special Place
"This is the heart of Marshmallow Mountain," he answered with a poetic charm in his voice, "...and you, my friend, are one of the precious few people to have ever made it. I live here, waiting for fascinating, courageous individuals with marvelous character to make it here. And then I have wonderful conversations with them, which seem to spill out like a lifetime of personal adventure. In fact, I'm always waiting for people, but so few people come these days. The world really has changed," he said.
I still didn't know what to say with the chocolate still dripping from my hair. But then he encouraged me to tell my story, my life story, the only story with any relevance, my Soul Story. From beginning to end with all its ups and downs. And honestly, with that lovely fire roasting off to the side, keeping us cozy and warm and still enticing my imagination, there seemed to be nothing better to do. So, I just sat back, relaxed and let it all spill out and before I knew it I was in the center of deep and meaningful narration and it felt very, very good!
We laughed and we rolled. We flew and we soared. We cried and we sighed. And, I must say, the contents of what came out during our talk seemed truly mystical. I distinctly felt as though some astonishing and marvelous old thing had been revealed, like an old, Pharaoh's tomb. Something that was completely invisible to the human eye, only moments before.
And then as I finished talking he said, "That was wonderful! But now it's time for you to go. But before you go, I want to give you this special gift."
I opened my hand and was surprised to receive a hand-sized, chocolate heart.
"Eat it," he said. So I did and I can't remember a chocolate ever tasting so wonderful in my whole life! It was truly divine.
"Now," he said, "this secret place you've found, will be with you forever and you don't have to make that big painful journey to the top in your body anymore. Now you can come here freely, anytime you want in your dreams or in your imagination!"
With a very warm thank you and big embrace from this gentle old man, I was off, down the hillside. But this time, I didn't care about the road. I was bouncing all over like a young deer. Hopping and rolling, and stumbling but nothing seemed to hurt anymore as it felt like I had just received the greatest reward that any human being could ever achieve, and the greatest revelation, realization and epiphany, as well.