So I had some doubt and fear, those first weeks at Potato Lake. I thought of just staying through my groceries and heading north to Flagstaff. I was halfway there. It might be a fitting end to Mike West to have him wander into the Forest and disappear while a new incarnation arose to the North. But I was pulled along.
The curiosity that built within me was unquenchable. I had to see where the trail would lead me. That's why I began this journey and escaped the bonds of imprisonment and oppression. I had absolutely no predictions. There were too many unquantified variables. In that way, the afternoon before I set up my first camp and the ensuing days were much like sitting in that bus in Chicago. I was propelling myself into a void, lurching forward with only my intent to find what Casteneda called “The Path with Heart”. I could no longer justify my freedom based on the life I led in the city; cowering in anonymity and silence.
Before my ruin, I was of help to some people. I spread messages of hope and faith. I lived my life as an example of the joy that can be found and the miracles we can experience if we just trust in the Universe and the way it all fits together. I lost that. I Knew I would. I walked away from all that and into a world of betrayal and fear.
I also knew it was my duty to find my way back to that self again, even if I had to risk my freedom on some questionable woodland journey. I couldn't give up without giving it a shot. I owed that to all the people I left behind. I had to believe in the world as I used to describe it. I had to thrust myself physically into an environment lacking in guile; a jolt of reality, if you will. Nature can be unforgiving, deceptive and alluring, but even in it's deceptions, there is great truth.
If I were to rebuild myself, it would have to be on such a foundation of truth and the beauty that surrounds us.
I wondered if those folks back home would even recognize the man I had become. I was pretty sure they remembered me, maybe even fondly. Did they tell their friends about the hippie that gave away tabs of LSD every Sunday when the bands played at The Flying Tomato? Did they remember the messages? Did they remember there are worlds, within and without “reality”? Did they remember the lessons we learned together? How would they receive me if they met me today? Did they miss me the way that I missed them?
I wished they could know I still took breath, my adventure continued. Even when I had those moments when I lost faith in myself, I didn't lose faith in those remarkable people I was stolen from by those who feared the freedom of the mind.
Many times, people warned me that I would be stopped. I was so vocal, so present, so obvious. My profile was as high as I was, but I wouldn't be silenced. If I could only have the freedom to do as I did for a short time, then I would have to accept that. I had faith back then that I was ultimately justified in word and deed and no matter what happened, everything would be alright. My continued freedom hinted an affirmation to memories of optimism. I hoped that optimism would grow in the magical places I now occupied.
I was going for broke, gambling on this pilgrimage. The worse thing that could happen would be if the Blue Meanies caught up with me, and dragged me to their dungeons. At best, I would someday go home and show that my faith was well placed, and the words and works of my youth were validated; that the Universe, chaotic as it is, ultimately provides. We can be free if we believe.
I used to converse at length on the topics of truth, love, faith, and freedom. I wasn't being punished by my exile. I was being given the chance to live my message as an illustration. Actions speak louder. Would anybody be there to hear?