On a crisp morning deep in the White Mountain Wilderness of New Mexico, I stepped from my warm trailer in to the silent stillness of a brand new day. I was one of only a handful of people for miles and miles. Within seconds of stepping down on to the dry pebbly ground I heard the “whoosh whoosh” of the wings of a bird and looked left just in time for a deep black large majestic bird fly 10-15 feet over my head. WOOSH WOOOSH WOOSH the air over his wings was so loud. I had never noticed the sound of a bird flying before. Right as he was above me he let out a loud “caaaw caaaaw.”
Instantly a knowing washed over me, like a voice, but not a voice. It was as if someone or something had dropped the knowing in my awareness: “You are here to learn to say goodbye.”
Tears rushed down my face without me even knowing it as my gaze followed the flight of bird. I turned and watched him fly straight into the rising sun, his wings glaringly loud with each stroke- WOOSH WOoosh wooosh…. and then it was silent again as I watched him fly away.
His black feathers turned gold as the sun reflected off him and into my eyes. I watched this glimmering gold bird fly gracefully toward the sunrise, and then disappear into the darkness below the silhouette of mountains in the distance. It was amazingly beautiful.
On this journey I am on I have made so very many strong bonds with many people. Then I leave. I am getting very adept at saying “so long for now.” Many people ask me to stay longer or meet again. What I’ve noticed is I rarely see them again… but I do meet more and more unbelievable humans and spend a day or a week or a moment with them and then continue on. It used to be hard to say goodbye, but now it is becoming more beautiful and graceful.
Standing there in the silence of that gift and knowing, tears continued to fall as I realized the significance of learning to gracefully and beautifully say goodbye.
In the moments just after the glimmer of the majestic bird left, I wanted to know more. One of my close friends on the mountain was an old man with a bushy beard that has been living in a tent in the mountains for 25 years. He was wise and practiced Native American spirituality, I loved talking with him. It was incredible getting to know him and hearing his stories and knowingness about animals, nature, our earth, how we are all connected, and what is available for us to learn from and with nature. I thought the bird was a raven, but wasn’t sure. My friend had mentioned certain creatures have certain roles and I was curious about this glimmering bird. So I jumped on my bike and road to his tent.
There he was sitting by the fire with his wife. I sat down with them in the chill and stillness of the morning and asked “What are those big black birds?”
“Those are Ravens,” he said, “and Ravens are very special.” He lifted his pant leg to show me a tattoo of a Raven’s feather. He told me that Ravens were messengers, much like angels in the Christian Faith. They bring knowings to special people in the tribe: messages from the sky, messages that reach beyond time and humanness. He told me if I ever found a Raven feather to keep it and stroke it during meditations. Then he shared that Ravens were a symbol of transformation and metamorphoses- and told me a story about humans changing shape into animals. He mentioned that transformation could happen physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually and that it can take place at any time in any form. He shared that if a Raven is in a tree nearby to talk to it, they will talk back… and more deep stories about Raven.
Realize I hadn’t told him about my experience, I only asked “What are those big black birds?” After he finished sharing all of the loveliness about ravens, I shared with him what I had just experienced with the big black bird at my campsite…
What a beautiful moment: One I will remember forever. Isn’t it interesting how connected everything is? Never before had I experienced an encounter with an animal like that, like it dropped off a knowing directly to me. What are the chances that when that happened, a two minute bike ride away was a human that could share his knowledge and knowingness with me… miracles are all around us.
Today I am in Denmark. My raven experience came to mind after I spent a delightful day with my friend, Ulrich. We walked the gardens of a castle, smelling and tasting the herbs while taking in the majestic view; enjoyed a fancy meal inside the castle while chatting for hours; strolled the rustic seashore while deep in conversation; arrived at his home to find an actual red carpet rolled out from the front door for me; We laughed and talked over dinner with his family in their beautiful cottage in a quaint Danish town; and enjoyed more deep conversation the next day over lunch and a while walking through a harbor with large vintage sailboats made entirely of wood. In just a period of 28 hours a delightful and profound friendship grew.
Ulrich then walked me to my train. He gave me a hug, stood barely outside the train door smiling, then leaned in while waving and saying goodbye and leaned back just as the doors shut. As the train pulled away I was in mental limbo teetering between being happy, sad, and filled with love.
The Grand Misunderstanding
It was as if I was observing this indecisive mental state. In that instant I realized again how ephemeral our feelings are. This could be a sad moment, a lovely moment, happy moment… any kind of moment. It wasn’t my friend standing at the door that was creating my feelings at all. My feelings were coming entirely from awareness in that moment. How I felt wasn’t even up to me, though it wasn’t not up to me either. My experience was fluid and changing and my thoughts were fluid and changing …just as it always has been and always will be.
More than learning to beautifully say goodbye, on this journey of life, I am continually being reminded of the grand misunderstanding that we all live in. The misunderstanding is: Believing that what is going on is causing me to feel a certain way.
This explains why a friend saying goodbye can seem beautiful one moment and sad the next. How I feel shifts and changes moment to moment. Although, at the foundation of it all, a peace that passes understanding is there for me all the time, in the midst of any experience. How I feel about how I feel seems to be even more paramount to experiencing a peace and stillness. When I can experience what is happening (without my made up beliefs of what should be, what I want, or thinking I can change what already Is) everything shifts. I am simply left experiencing what Is, and what is happening.
In this quiet place of presence and pure experience Life becomes a beautiful adventure.
And what a wonderfully beautiful adventure Life Is.
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