Dreams are powerful tools that can help guide anyone to success and happiness. They represent some cherished aspiration, an ultimate ideal of achievement.

The word sylvan refers most directly to a setting associated with the woods. Reflecting on the vigorous life that abounds in sylvan settings is a very powerful force in my life. For me, this word evokes feelings of transcendence, clarity, and unity.

A Sylvan Dream is a dynamic compilation of my life dream. It is an attempt to seek out and document the truth, beauty, and clarity that exists in this world.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wet and Beautiful

The early morning light opens my eyes around 5am each morning as it creeps up over the mountaintops on the opposite eastern side of the valley some mile or two away. The mornings are crisp, and the first thing I do as I sit up and slide out of my bivvy sack is put on my sweatshirt that I use as a pillow, and slide on my pants I have beneath my legs where I sleep.

After a year hiatus, the cold mornings have broken me, and I now drink coffee again. Cupping the mug in both my hands, I watch birds flit by on the mountainside as the daylight grows, the clouds sweep up the valley from below, and I await breakfast.

The days are long, slow, and inconcievably enjoyable. I hike thirty minutes or so to my site, and prepare for the morning's work, putting on one thermal layer, raincoat, and rainpants. As I leave the trail and begin creeping up through the thick forest, I half wince, half relish the first cool drops of water that fall on my cheeks from the mossy branches as I weave through the thick vegetation, climbing, half crawling up the mountainside. From time to time, I find myself staring off through the low canopy as thoughts of home, future plans, missed people, or a beautiful birds catch my attention. One morning, a red flash far off through the canopy caught my attention, and I smiled as my eyes focused on the mountain toucan I have been seeing every few days. I called to it through the woods-a mixture of a hen chicken and a veloci raptor-and the toucan's head jerked to the side, slowly shifted 90 degrees, and then jerked to the other side. Over the next twenty minutes I called them to within a few meters of me, and watched them pass in the canopy above before continuing with my work.

Searching for nests is hard and tedious. I think to do this work and not go crazy you must either really love doing, or just be a very diligent person. I just really love roaming through the woods in a grid-like pattern each day taking part in essentially the hunt to end all easter egg hunts. When my eyes fall upon a small grass-lined opening in a ball of moss hanging from the side of a tree, my heart jumps a little bit. Most of the time I reach inside to just find an empty cavity, just a shadow of a home. One time I saw something odd in the obscure darkness of the rainy forest peaking out at me, and as I reached up and poked it in confusion the face of a mouse recoiled from my finger. This old nest had been taken over by a family of five jungle mice. Not what I was looking for.

As I head back up the mountainside on my way back to lunch around 1230, usually the skies have thickened in confusion over whether it was time to rain or not. A thick mist descends upon the mountainside, and for awhile that is all you think it is when suddenly ten minutes later I realize my shoulders are damp and the chill is licking at my sides. I brush my hand over my beard to find it rather wet but not dripping. Each day it seems this is how the rain comes, subtly sneaking dampness into your clothing, making you realize you should have put on your rain gear.

For me, this is a blessed place, a haven, and a mirror into the person I am trying to be.

I would like to write more but my time is up in this small internet cafe in the mountain town in which I have chosen to pass my day off. I hope you all are well.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Macchu Picchu

Sweat dripped liberally from my brow and into my moustache as I made my way up the side of the mountain towards the entrance to Macchu Picchu. Daylight was just fading to pale blue behind the mountains surrounding me. It felt great to push myself hard up a mountainside again. It had been awhile,

Once we got into the park, people started running ahead like maniacs to the other side of the park to the other entrance to Wayna Picchu, which only allows 400 people a day. Once we had secured a place in line to hike up to Macchu Picchu, I took some time to walk around for some early morning photos before the park got filled with other tourists.

The morning had closed in quickly with cloud cover. The sun shown brightly through the clouds, and as it rose above the mountains on the eastern edge of the valley a single tendril of light reached down to Macchu Picchu for a few minutes.

Once we got our tickets to hike Wayna Picchu later that morning, our 25 year old Peruvian guide, Juan, took us around to show us the city. He highlighted the significance of certain parts of the city, its architecture, and its temples. I estimate I missed a fair amount of what he was saying, since it was all in spanish, but I rathered to stumble through understanding his perfect spanish, than have him struggle to explain himself in broken english. Without seeing this place, explaining much of it isn't that interesting. To see it in person is awing. People always talk about how the rocks line up perfectly, with no gaps whatsoever, and this is true where the most attention was paid, at the temples. All of the temples at Macchu Picchu were essentially built to worship some aspect of the earth that the ancient civilation was grateful for. The earth that nurtured them was their god, and the attention they paid at reflecting nature in their designs and rituals was very acute.

Later, we climbed up to Wanya Picchu, and from there the view was amazing. Macchu Picchu looked like some sand castle inlaid with moss and small rocks. We sat up there for awhile taking in the view, but all in all this was a very different experience for me.

I think this was the first time I have been to a place that is one of the wonders of the world for its natural splendor as well is its human heritage. Given time alone up there, I would have sat for hours observing the place, but as it was, teaming with other tourists, I felt no need to sit and dwell. There were a group of people sitting in a circle in one of the temples up on Wayna Picchu. In some circumstances I could have felt myself doing that, but it wasn't the same. I knew going into it that I would be surrounded by other people who may have very varied reasons to be up there. So, I went up there to try and take in as much of the awesome history and beauty this place has to offer, and enjoy it for that.

Sitting upon Wayna Picchu as I looked at the surrounding valley, mountains, and Macchu Picchu below, I felt a solid pleasure in this civilization's legacy. I found it very enheartening to witness the labor that must have taken lifetimes to build. I saw it as the devout result of an understanding by another human culture that realized there was something much greater than their life, their culture, their humanity. Granted, the work was most likely performed by slaves or the poor of the culture, and there were no doubt many darker sides of this culture that this beautiful relic doesn't depict, but this will be true for anything regarding humanity, be it 2000 years ago, today, or far into the future.