Day 13: Unicorns

Friday, 25th June 2021

Part 1: Farewell

One last night’s sleep in what I still consider the best bed ever. One last breakfast on the balcony. Packing ALL THE THINGS into the car trunk. Cleaning the house. A couple of messages with my host. O captain, my captain, yours was a most delightful place to stay!

Fare thee well, o best bed ever, ye enabler of many a most refreshing sleep.

And so it is time to leave Groß-Nordende. I set my first destination coordinates to Annika’s new home, a shared flat in the heart of Hamburg. This course inevitably leads me one more time past the area of Y’s whereabouts.

I feel a great ambivalence in my heart: one voice is making a passionate plea for our freedom, reminding me of the readiness to break old patterns and to leave old dreams behind. The other voice of the “tragic romantic” within reminds me of heartbreak and longing. A strong emotional tension assails me: is the rare time window for our face-to-face communication closing now? Should I not insist on a short meeting, to clarify things between us once and for all?

Or is this just an illusion? A trick of my imagination?

I decide to let go of it. This also means: I decide to feel everything that comes with this choice. I let roars of liberation and stings of heartache flow through me. Phenomena arising and passing away.

Tightly packed car trunk is tightly packed with ALL THE THINGS.

I bring some food items to Annika that would not survive my journey, and shells from the Baltic and North Sea. Annika shows me her new place. Being preoccupied with my inner motions, I am not very attentive, and so it takes me a while to become aware of Annika’s own emotional turmoil at this time. We have a short chat, clearing the air. Being human together isn’t always easier, but ultimately much better – even if we walk on separate journeys.

Setting my destination coordinates to an Airbnb in Bavaria, I see a good 7 hours of driving to come. The first half of the trip is mostly unspectacular. Feeling hungry, I seek out a highly (over-)rated Thai restaurant in Osterode am Harz. The first obstacle is online registration. Oh yes, Covid is still a thing here – I had almost forgotten! Succeeding with the procedure, I am led to a free table.

I cannot shake off the feeling that the interior design composed of dark wood, plastic Buddhas and other Kitsch has nothing to do with Thailand. “But you haven’t been to Thailand yet”, I tell myself as I devour a Pad Thai which tastes absolutely unspectacular and should perhaps be more accurately labeled “sodium glutamate with noodles and veggies resembling what we think you ignorant fools will think of as Pad Thai”. Bon appetit! My only journal entry of today reads, “I hope this Pad Thai will come out where it is supposed to.” (Spoiler: thankfully, it does.)

At least no longer hungry, I continue on the unspectacular journey. But wait … what’s this? A highway exit sign that reads, “Einhornhöhle” (Unicorn Cave)? Surely I have no time for such detours! My hands steer the vehicle accordingly to … the right, taking the exit. Oh well. Unicorn Cave and Burg Scharzfels, here I come!

Welcome to the woods hosting Unicorn Cave and Burg Scharzfels.

Part 2: Unicorn Cave

Feeling lonely and content at the same time, I believe, is a rare kind of happiness.

Nightwish – “Lagoon“, based on a quote from “Bag of Bones” by Stephen King

Passing a sign that says this place closes at 8pm (oh, it’s almost 8pm!), a lone road takes me to an empty parking lot. I see nobody around, hence perhaps nobody will be physically closing this area. A risk to be taken. Why choose the easy way when the finishing line of this journey comes into sight? Nothing beats a good unexpected adventure.

The woods pull me in. I follow the paths that lead to the Unicorn Cave, which is of course already closed at this hour. A wooden unicorn skeleton reminds me of the dried horse at Ribe Vikingecenter the day before. Now I could turn back, or … find Burg Scharzfels while there is still daylight. (You see where this is going!)

Skeleton unicorn guards this cave.

I walk on, passing a tiny bridge, following a sign or two, while making an audio recording in which I reflect on these days, recent weeks, past learnings, challenges ahead, mankind and nature. My unabashed musings bring forth clarity and aha-moments, including:

  • “Might it help if they (trees) know who we are?”
  • “I’ve shied away from these kinds of confrontations all my life, for decades. Now how would I be able to do that within a couple of months?”

(Referring to several key confrontations, which actually did happen in recent weeks.)

  • “If I would go back to my early days with (…) – I’ve had my intuitions, and of course there were things that I’ve had to learn, but I would have said: ‘Hey, I have these intuitions, I have these feelings. I feel things, I sense things. I see when things are off or inconsistent or incongruent. And if I am not speaking up, I am doing a disservice to us all.'”
  • “I can be wrong. I most likely am wrong, and I want to learn how to be less wrong. And I may be right! It’s not even about wrong or right, it’s about the natural impulse. Suppressing that voice in order to find my true voice in another way, that’s a fucking mixed message! It’s not working, quite simply. It’s like pulling into two directions at once, opening something and shutting it down, with one hand each.”
  • “Oh gosh, I couldn’t even name a single person with whom I haven’t done this: where I firmly believed that I had ‘seen’ something, and I communicated it, believing it would be good for that person. And then it turns out … well, who knows? – The point is: I need to communicate these things, and I need to learn how to not hold expectations. I guess that’s the key, a kind of ‘share-and-release’. Just offer our discernment – maybe listen first: ‘Is this the right time? Is my perception, my sharing wanted right now? Is there an opening?'”
For some people this is just an interesting rock formation.

And of course –

  • “Oh fuck, I’ve clearly lost my way!”

I turn around, ready to give up on Burg Scharzfels and to get back to the car (there’s still daylight, after all!), and then …

  • “It’s the ‘Council attitude’ that helps a lot, the ‘Council Way’ of giving the other person space, so that the other person knows about the gift and is not going to … –”

I stop mid-sentence. What’s that? A sign that shows the way to Burg Scharzfels? Invigorated by the discovery, I ascend a steep path through mesmerizingly mystical woods. The recording reflects my awe, my deep inhalation of the wonders of nature, in a trembling voice:

  • “It smells amazing! And I’ve read that I am walking between hundreds of millions of years – one rock formation upon another that have arisen as the rock that they are, and I wonder how that happened. One was created 250 million years ago, the other 350. Million. Years. Ago. Whereas our human ancestors have been around for two million years. It’s kind of nothing. It’s like comparing a toddler with a wise old person, saying: ‘Is this the same kind of life experience we’re talking here, the same kind of learning?’ – Well, I’m not so sure. And that is our ancestors, long before we created anything like cultures and civilizations that we know now, let alone our modern world, let alone science, let alone computer technology, mobile phones. It’s crazy. It’s happening so fast. And we get drunk by the velocity, because we can – as if a thousand devils were behind us, as if extinction would be near and we needed to accelerate; but I worry that it is our acceleration that marks our extinction, our downfall.”

And there she is. The castle ruins of Burg Scharzfels rise semi-majestically from a wood-clad, rock-covered plateau. I choose to explore the ruins, and I may or may not choose to slip through a gap in the barrier that (almost) covers the entrance. Why not risk a little fun? This castle was long considered to be an invincible stronghold – that is, until the French conquered it in 1761. This reminds me of our Schlossberg in Graz, which was actually never conquered (take that, France!), but was surrendered to Napoleon (d’oh!) in July 1809 in the aftermath of a ceasefire and later razed by his forces, following the Treaty of Schönbrunn.

Majestic natural rock formations including Burg Scharzfels.
  • “I see the city [of Barbis] from here! They too must have seen the city in the days of old, when it looked quite different. We forget how much we have achieved. Cities of times long ago were threatened to crumble and burn, so now we have made things quite stable and enduring and solid. It seems we know how to repair, we know how to develop further. As a human species, we made it. We don’t have to do more. But we forget. We want to build more, and larger, and win somehow against ‘the others’, and I wonder why, I wonder why? Who wins? Who gains?”

I let my gaze wander across the horizon, beholding the city of Barbis afar. My eyes also spot little plants growing from the cracks in the walls around me. This has always amazed me: little seedlings find enough nutrients to grow here. Imagine that! They grow and they perish; they take and they give. The Honorable Harvest. The Law of Reciprocity.

  • “Yes, I understand: trying to break new frontiers of knowledge, traveling to the stars, colonizing Mars. I understand that wish. Yes, I would do the same! But it has a cost, and we don’t know it. I think the cost is much different, and the Law of Reciprocity is not guaranteed. We take, so that we can achieve this, but what do we give? What do we give? And why the hurry, this restlessness, not being contented?”
Creepy wooden bear stands guard.

While abandoning the stronghold, I remember my conversation with Björke the day before – it already feels like a year ago – in which we discovered that sacred place of “… being contented exactly where we are: nothing is needed, we have everything. If I lost this mobile phone now, I would still have everything. Even if I lost my life – not that I plan to, but I would still have everything.”

I walk back to … oh, what’s that path to the left? (And there is still daylight, after all!)

I decide to roam these woodlands further, off the beaten track, feeling irritated by plastic litter all around. As I want to turn back to the beaten track, another inconspicuous path leading to the Frauensteinklippe reveals itself. A wooden bear stands guard along the way. Here, for the first time in ages, I am feeling genuinely creeped out. I’m not sure if I believe in spirits, but along this track I’m sure the spirits are dancing while not giving a f*ck about what I believe or not. I hasten my footsteps.

The Frauensteinklippe, a natural formation of dolomitic rock, resembles a human face (mmmm, creepy!) and gives me a Kundalini sneeze as well as imaginary flashes of “seeing” at least one human – I think a woman – having jumped to their death here, stricken by madness and/or despair. Or is it just my vivid imagination?

I decide not to follow their example. I bow out and rush back, past creepy passageways, past creepy wooden bear, and now finally back to … wait, what’s that? A strange tree! Might it talk with me? It is called “Schäferbuche“, one of the oldest trees around. We hang out for a while.

Creepy Frauensteinklippe looks like a face.

At some point, I actually do walk back to the car. Or rather, I’m trying to. This wanderer is now completely lost in these woods, and even Google Maps ain’t helping. Daylight fades. Nightfall is upon me and these lands. I surrender to a melange of intuition and reason, in which I feel strangely safe and certain, hastening my footsteps. I begin reflecting on life and love, as if it were time for a last confession before the darkness swallows me whole.

  • “Of course I love S, and of course I love Y. That is not the question. ‘What is mine to do?’ is rather the question. (…) It’s very hard to let Y go. Yet letting go I must, for some reason. I don’t think I can tell what will happen when I do, I just know I must. Not sure that I know how to communicate it, or is it not about communicating? How does one let go? How does one let free? I want her to be free, and I want myself to be free, even more than I want our love. (…) Therefore this journey, being alone in Denmark and Germany, did serve. To ‘be my own man’, content with myself, being able to love myself, able to take good care of myself. Being able to take risks and to recuperate from the mishaps. This was a very important lesson, and it could only come about when I gave up waiting and hoping.”

There! This is the path I have come from. Past the Unicorn Cave, back to the parking lot. Maybe I can make it to the car just in time before nightfall?

  • “It’s gonna be quite some way back. I hope there won’t be a roadblock, or I would have to sleep in the car, and I would have a very long ride tomorrow. It’s gonna be a long ride as it is. But I wanted this! I’m kinda glad that the journey isn’t yet over and that I’m not yet in safe waters of my harbour, my homestead. Still ways to go. – Oh, this is a steep ascent! The ascent of humanity. I remember the first time I read about Charles Eisenstein [in 2013], and I felt … I was envious! My goodness, I was such an uncouth youngster. I went to these places and thought I had to be somehow ‘better than’ these people. So much has happened since! So I read Charles Eisenstein’s bio and thought, ‘man, this all sounds very good, but he must have this wrong and that’, and I guess I was filled with a little bit of General Semantics pride and arrogance of some kind, thinking that I ‘knew’. And I had ambition, and I had much less humility. More insecurity and less humility. (…) So I don’t know what’s happening in my life, but I can see now that there are big changes. How good! (…) And I know that a lot [of change] has happened just lately.”

(I should add here that Charles Eisenstein has become one of my biggest inspirations, and I immensely treasure the times we’ve met in person. More stories to tell.)

Almost out of the woods, embraced by dusk.

Inwardly turning towards my mentor, with whom I’ve had a kerfuffle some weeks ago:

  • “Yes, he is right about the Dharma, and I’m sure he’s got a valid perspective and a lot of experience and direct knowledge in various ways. And the path works for him, and I’m very glad. And I suppose if I were able to take it up, it might work for me too. That said, I feel like I have to take up a different path that I have yet to discover. (…) And he has to accept that. He can tell me any stuff that he wants to tell me, give advice, or even nudge me. I just will be firm about my own discernment of what serves me.”

Are these words coming from wise discernment and/or egoic delusion?

Final challenge of the day: find my Airbnb in Fuchsmühl, or prepare for a wild night in the car. Strange roads are winding through foggy woods, uphill, downhill, without cell reception, while a sizzle and my inferior nighttime eyesight make this part of the trip particularly unfun. With my senses on high alert, more than three hours later at 1:30am, I finally pull into the parking lot and sneak into my room, where a comfortable bed awaits this quite exhausted adventurer.

Finally, a bed!

Soundtrack of the day:

Nightwish – “Century Child” (album)
Nightwish – “Once” (album)

… and a whole bunch that I cannot remember.

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