Leaves of Grass

(by Walt Whitman)

I exist as I am, that is enough
If no other in the world be aware
I sit content
And if each and all be aware
I sit content

Drumming at the Edge of Magic

(by Mickey Hart)

- We all have the potential to live out the hero’s journey, if only we take the first step and enter the dark wood self-knowledge. Adventures don’t begin until you get into the forest. That first step is an act of faith… follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.
- Consciously attempting to master your energy flows--- the body flow, mind flow, higher flow, spirit side. Its ideal is to achieve a kind of perfect balance that allows you to place your attention and energy exactly where you want it--- “eye of the tiger” focusing technique: focus attention. Choose a line of attack.

Providence- the Story of a Fifty-Year Vision Quest

(by Daniel Quinn)

- reviews and makes reference to a lot of concepts from Ishmael. Talks also a lot about his beliefs in animism and how he formed those ideas
- “Every life in the community is owed to the community--- and is paid back to the community in death. The community is a web of life, and every strand of the web is a path to all the other strands. Nothing is exempt. Nothing is special. Nothing lives on a strand by itself, unconnected to the rest.”
- Humans not as a “special race” to stand out as itself as different than “Nature,” as “stewards of Nature,” etc. We are all one and the same, all interconnected (principles of animism).


Project ME 2007

2007- a synopsis

So excited to leave Cali again, to be strong enough to function on my own, to play piano, make photos, climb mountains, LIVE MY LIFE exactly as I want to live it, and run down my own Path at my own speed, choosing the risks that I CHOOSE to take.

I follow my photo- Bliss to a photo internship in Mobile, AL after two months recuperating in Los Angeles after the Fall.

I share the beautiful adventure-filled drive down to Texas with Adrian: hugging Saguaro cactus, sampling trailside plants, sleeping under the stars, backpacking across closed metal areas, exploring caverns 750 feet below the Earth, braving high winds atop the Texas high point, noshing on raw foods, and so much more.

Then, I'm solo again, starting with Big Bend National Park at the bottom left-leg of Texas. Mountain, desert, and river. Meditation, contemplation, eventual evaporation. Creation of jewelry I'm still wearing and revelations (oh, the Desert, Mother of Magic) I'm still deciphering.

Austin (hello J, hello birth-City, live music, graffiti art)
Houston (hello weird modern art)
Texas hill country

New Orleans (and then it's so ugly and here's Common Ground with thousands of beautiful hard-working oddly (ah, but I'm one of them) passionate volunteers, strong helping hands, strong loving hearts. So much pain, toxicity, death, transformation, destruction, illumination. New Year 2007. Happy, SO HAPPY TO STILL BE ALIVE, as tears stream down. We're on the "nicer" side of town, experiencing fireworks reflected against the Bay (but where are the Mountains?) surrounded by yelling people (oh, the Music) and lovely new friends… some of many new friends. FRIENDS EVERYWHERE, all across the country, all around the world. LoveloveLOVE EVERYWHERE. Oh, the beauty!

But, I can't stand the overwhelming New Orleans-ness for long and move on quickly to Mobile, at the very bottom of Alabama. No mountains, not even large rocks. Conservative newspaper (boring), feeling trapped. I don't belong here. Start fitting myself into the Art community (painting for a library, hanging out with Artists), find a Sister in Valley, a Brother in Neil. Trees. So many tears and a newfound fear of people as my bike and bag of everything is stolen beneath me (I am up in a tree). Internal screaming and screaming and screaming…

I leave Mobile, unsure of my direction, let alone destination.
THE JOURNEY REALLY BEGINS HERE as I wander forth, totally listening to my intuition, and FOLLOWING THE FLOW OF THE UNIVERSE.

She led me first to Birmingham, where I meet Jon and reacquaint myself with the feel of bare skin on hard rock (mmm bouldering, yes!). I follow my true Bliss (Pachamama) into the woods for a week-long sojourn: water, trees, and rock help me sort out my tumultuous thoughts. Am eventually washed out by a potential flood, and enter Memphis, TN.

Memphis. Josh, my couchsurfing host, introduces me to the Revolutions bike co-op. There happens to be a bike ride that night. I'm exhausted from running from the potential flood, but no matter. I'm a traveler. I RIDE ADVENTURES AS THEY COME. We ride and ride, eventually stopping at the River. I start talking with a tall dude about trainhopping. We somehow meet up again the next night with a bunch of other people watching an eclipse. Oh, I forgot your name. Oh, hi Tommy. We roll down a hill, admire the hill, and talk and talk and talk and oh how the hours fly and my what an awesome human being you are and woah how wonderfully we do connect and you're magical but damn I'm heading west and you're headed East… well actually I HAVE NO PLANS and I DON'T KNOW WHERE I'M GOING so maybe I'll catch you sometime soon… you're headed to West Virginia (WV) for Mountain Justice Spring Break (MJSB) to protest mountaintop removal?


I head on out to Arkansas to meet up with Redman again (college buddy) now doing Teach America in the Arkansas podunk-ghetto. The kids are fascinated by my more-colorful stories of adventures in photojournalism, and convinced that I'm Redman's sister (he's the only other Asian in town). "No, she's my daughter," he grins, winking. No, I don't think I want to be a teacher, but kudos to those who do…

I drive across Tennessee in one long push to get to Knoxville and meet up with Tommy again. I leave my faithful four-wheeled steed, Poseidon, behind with Claire. We drive down to Tommy's grandpa's place in northern AL to prune apple trees and play in the woods.

We return to Knoxville to hook up with Ryan and his car-ful of lovingly-dumpstered food. From roadside yoga to hours of philosophical knot-tying, untying, retying, we quickly meander up to Charleston, WV for MJSB, a colorful week of workshops, omigosh amazing bluegrass music and such soul-stirring laughter-inducing just simply wonderful folks. WE'LL CHANGE THE WORLD. Let's beat our drums, strum our banjos, and sing our voices hoarse.

Where to next? There's supposedly a really great Protest coming up in Washington DC and Tommy's never been to DC, so we catch a free bus-ride out to the Protest (lame protest, but DC itself never fails to please the fresh wanderer), then free bus-ride North, instead of West, to New York City!

New York City. Oi! My memories of it had been ugly, cloudy, claustrophobic. I didn't want to go back. Tommy had never visited and had a weird desire to check it out. Okay, sure, I can give it another chance. We hop on the bus together, give Beanie a call ("Sure! Come stay with me for a bit!") and land in The City in a few hours to wander in the frosty dark, through confusing streets with confused people ("Huh? Ummm… yeah…") to sit, chattering in a warm (ahhh) Laundromat to meet Beanie.

"Let's stay for four days tops," we said to each other, each day filled with so many exciting adventures and fresh discoveries until we'd stayed on for four weeks: helping out at the Time's Up bike co-op, getting involved with the freegans, staying with Neda, dumpstering at Whole Foods, getting arrested at the Critical Mass bike ride, moving in at the Fort, visiting as many museums and free places as possible, Free Hugs in Union Square, bike journeys all over and around the City, and so much more all the way until our final NYC day together huddling together atop a smushed cardboard box in Central Park. "See ya later," then rushing back (oh the City's rushrushrush!) to the Fort to repack (finally! Yes! Leaving the City! But oh, also leaving so much else…)

I catch a Craigslist-ed ride back down to Knoxville, TN to retrieve Poseidon. En route, the car hydroplanes off the road (rainy night), killing the car but sparing its occupants. WE ARE NOT RETURNING TO THE CITY, no way, no matter what. The driver has stuff to do, and I just need to leave. We rent another car and continue.

At Knoxville, I accidentally ingest a ridiculous load of ganja via cookies, and permanently alter my view on Life (first alteration from the Fall, second alteration from special cookies. What next?). I hit a Zen state (but do I really want it?)

Drive with Prowdy back up to New Jersey (car slipping off the icy road in the mountains yet again, his dog nearly killing my traveling-Pothos plant, sleeping in the car in frosty environs, can't stand the dog)

Chill out at Len's Upper Meadows Farm in NJ for a week, planting seeds for the upcoming season in the greenhouse, taking care of animals, visiting the gorgeous NJ SMCH Meditation Center and reconnecting with those roots, biking a lot and getting ready to bike across the country, etc.

Decide instead to follow a random line from Tommy and check out the Omega Institute in upstate NY. "Famous people go chill out there," he'd said. "Eew," I'd replied. I checked out the website though, and apparently it wasn't just for the rich and famous. It was new-agey. Yoga. Tai chi. The real roots. The works. Fascinating. I jumped for it.

I visit Alex at Hawthorne Valley Farm for a week (oh lovely bikings, wanderings, more farmings, reconnections, fresh connections) then bike back down to Omega, ending up staying for roughly 2.5 months, my longest time up 'til then in one place: voice-bouncing and contact-improv with Maria, harps and dream theatre with Jonah, yoga with Bonnie, art with Benben, biking with Owie and Joel, drumming with River, exploring with Eva, movement theater with Majalehn, night-time skinnydipping and nakey yoga with laughter, and way too much more. Hugs all around. Loving energy, rising kundalini, writing revelations, etc ad nauseum.

Then, time to redeem myself in Court. So scared, so scared… I zip back down to NYC with Bow, staying with Lianne at the Grand Space art co-op and briefly dipping myself into one of the many NYC counter-cultures, then dance-breathe-meditate myself to calmness to (oh Man!) meet my Fate in Court: a DECLARATION OF FREEDOM. A huge breathe of fresh, free air, a waving of unchained hands, and I catch the Omega bus back to Omega, triumphant, and now clueless as far as my next move.

I try to sell my car, but the buyer pulls out at the last moment. With my panniers packed and bike ready to go, I'd planned to bike up to (finally) discover the Northeast, the only area of the USA I haven't yet explored. Exasperated by being stuck with Poseidon again, I decide within a few hours to just go ahead and drive back to Cali and drop him off with my parents.

I zoom across the country in four days, averaging ten hours of driving a day, stopping only to get gas, pee/poop, do roadside yoga, and dip into a natural body of water to swim and bathe. The scariest moment perhaps was stopping in what I thought was a secluded off-the-road area around 10 PM, exhausted. "Just a few more miles," I thought, "or maybe I can sleep here." I lie atop Poseidon and gaze up at the stars glittering above… until a car comes throttling down the road towards me. It's booming loud music, and a glass bottle comes soaring out of the window. I hide behind Poseidon until it passes, then quickly gather up my stuff and prepare to take off. The car returns, and I hide once more. It screeches to a halt in front of my car, and I unwillingly reveal myself. "Hey! Who are you?" a door slams and someone jumps out. "I'm Joyce," I answer. "You alone?" "No," I lie, hoping he doesn't notice my obviously solo-traveler car, hoping to protect myself. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" he asks. "I'm not sure," I think to myself, but he answers the question for me, "You two just… hanging out here or something?" "Sure," I answer, not wanting to lie again. We stare at each other for a moment, I, the solo slightly terrified completely confused traveler, looking with sharp eyes and hidden but upraised knife at him, the well-fed slightly-drunk also completely confused rich white boy. "Who is it?" shouts his companions from the car. "It's… it's just Joyce," he shouts back. "What's she doing here?" "Nothing… nothing," he stammers, "Let's just leave her alone. Let's just go." "But…" "Let's go." And they zoom off. I spend the next hour driving off as fast as I can, weeping and terrified not just by the random people in the dark or my crazy luck (for attracting adventure and staying alive time and again) and the Universe watching over me, but also by their questions.

So, who am I?
What am I doing?

I don't know.

Cali again. It's weird being back after the longest separation from where I grew up in Glendora, CA. I leave again after a few days' flurry of hurried activity and unpacking, re-packing:
Off to Burning Man.

Sierras see Jeff. Conversation is too short. Too many adventures for both, too little time to go over them all. We've both grown, and are now walking different Paths. I spend the night alone once more, in a rocky crevice atop a Lake under a blanket of stars and kissed by the Wind, waking to the Sun and Sky weaving a colorful symphony. I'd love to stay here longer. I understand Jeff's attraction to the Sierras, in my own way. But, the Desert calls.

Burning Man. Department of Public Works' rebel yell, dust-storms, biking through white EMPTINESS, double-rainbows, running naked through water-truck toxic showers, gifting economy, "You're beautiful" too many times, bike-sculpture inspiration, finding EMPTINESS AMIDST CHAOS, we're disrupting the Desert, writing on the walls, free noodles, firefirefire everywhere, sun salutations with Tank, drunken "contact improv," kecak ke-cha!cha!cha!-cak kecak, romance with Dan, jumping on "wild bagos," playing piano, "it's easy!" and leading a scared someone out of Fear into beautiful IMPROV!, playing piano with a shroomed-up crowd, playing piano with a chorus of strangers to greet the Sun as the Desert bustles back to Life in the morning…

Tahoe with Jeff and Tank. Feel left out of their plans. Confused by Self again
Brian at Berkeley. Weird to be back at a college, but great seeing Brian
Dan and Gamelan X kids in Oakland. So much music!
Tommy reunion in SF. So many stories to share! We spend most of our time just talking. My visit keeps going and going and could probably go on indefinitely, but I drag myself away; want to leave for Wisconsin before the autumn ends. I feel so full yet empty as I leave again, watching Tommy's silhouette fading into the background
Mace in Stanford. Her Stanford-peeps all give me the weird-eye and treat me like an alien. Yup, I am not an academic; not anymore, at least. Yeah, goodbye, good riddance.
Come down Cali coast slow. See many others again
Super short-term Cali again with Mom and Dad, spending most of my time de-playafying my stuff, unpacking, repacking.
Final night hike in my Mountains with old friends.
"You're taking off… again?"
"When you returning?"
"Don't know."

River (from Omega) gave me a book by Tamarack, the Teaching Drum Outdoor School founder. I'd devoured the book, checked out the website listed at the back of the book, found an open position for editing at the Drum, gotten in contact with Tamarack, clicked, and then decided, after much mulling, to go check it out.

Greyhounded to Wisconsin… and now it's been three months. I'm staying on for an indeterminate period of time, dealing with my patterns, dissecting my Dreams, experimenting with my Dance, Song, piano, and more, learning to live as part of a Circle, live closer to the Earth, truthspeak, be as a question, etc. I see how much I am growing every time I talk with an old friend on the phone and then realize the change occurring within me, how different I am now. It's quite phenomenal, slightly scary, and often exciting.

I welcome 2008 and every fresh moment with open arms and heart.