This photo was taken one year ago today, July 18, 2015, on Muir Beach, in Marin County, California. (Click to enlarge.)
The full story of this photo reaches back almost 11 years, long before many who know me today, did. It involves some of the most tragic and heartbreaking events of my life, and that of my family too.
I was not on the beach that day for a celebration, but for a memorial. The following photo is as much as I’d like to say about it at the moment.
But the story of why I was there is not for today…
Because one year later, July 18, 2016, today is the day for celebration.
Today from my beloved Medellín, Colombia, I celebrate and thank Life – the Great Mystery, Great Teacher – that a man, who was me, walked onto sacred ground to burn an artifact from his darkest day. Yet he – I! – was the one consumed.
Today I celebrate and thank the hearts of nine people who love me so much, who were there to support me courageously and with their full presence as I traveled further than I knew I could go. Even though that distance was from standing, to the sand, to the sea. And back.
Today I celebrate and thank my healer, my guide, my father-figure, my teacher, my first shaman, my brother, my inspiration, and my dear friend, Jamie, for his song, and for helping me grow into so much more than a troubled guest upon this dark earth.
Today I celebrate thank my dear friend and brother, Geoff, who was with me that afternoon and in so many difficult (and wonderful) days and nights before. He snapped that incredible image of a life changed, a man changing, so that I may understand and remember.
Today I celebrate and thank C, who loved me before I knew what the word meant, and helped me long before I was brave enough to ask.
Today I also celebrate and thank the invisible forces of Light in my life, the parts of me who watch over me and guide me, and for their patient, kind persistence as I learn to listen.
Today I celebrate and thank the cleansing power of Fire, Water, and Air to release and carry away all that no longer serves! And I celebrate the Great Mother, Earth, Pachamama who contains it all.
Today I celebrate and thank myself for being willing to open up, to let go, to take a giant risk, to commit to the process wherever it may lead, to let people in, to be healed, to be transformed despite my fear. And thus to be released from bondage I helped create. Because the day I was first willing to look my truth in the face, and share it, was the day I began to change it.
In that, today I celebrate and thank every step I have taken since those from the Pacific. Though the cherished, soaking first few have long since been erased, I honor that they were the beginning of a path I couldn’t see, but that I had been seeking for so very, very long. A path that has always been a part of me, and now unfolds around and through me.
Today I celebrate and thank that path, as well. Long and winding, exhilarating and complex. Imperfect, full of detours, and mine.
Today I celebrate and thank every person I have met who has touched my life since this man, who is me, emerged upon that road. Men and women in the amazing global family I am building, that I am finding, that is finding me. People I might never have met otherwise. People who have blessed me with their openness, their kindness, their wisdom, their love, and their touch. People who have mirrored me and helped me see, and thus to give, all that I have inside.
Today I celebrate and thank all the marvelous experiences that flooded my life upon burning a relic that, despite its small size and near non-existent weight, occupied more space than I could have possibly known.
Today I celebrate and thank my family, who also survived the experience that I was grieving. My struggle is theirs, and theirs mine, as we all move forward to heal. Together.
And today, most of all, I celebrate and once again thank Life itself – the Great Mystery! Great Teacher! – that my saddest story has a happy ending, because I was willing to look for it, to fight for it, to never give up until I found it.
Today, one year later, I am living it. I am creating it. And it is creating me.