I just returned from a satisfying vacation with my childhood friend. We have known each other for fifty years and have a unique combination of history and authentic connection. The last time we spent five days together by ourselves was 18 years ago. Our trip came about because we both made it happen. She agreed to fly across the country and meet me in Sedona. She let me know the five days she had available to get away from her busy teaching schedule. I worked around her schedule and rearranged mine. She wanted us to each have our own room and I accommodated by stretching what I was willing to spend. I am so glad because having our own private space really contributed to having time for privacy and for connection. It was fun for me to find a place that fit all of our qualifications. We both have unusual eating habits and wanted to cook our own food and eat at home. It was awesome to me to eat what I wanted and to have her do the same. There was opportunity to each have our own space every evening and early morning and time to talk about our work and our favorite subject since we were 11, boys. It was so satisfying to be such compatible traveling companions. We decided early on that we would speak our truth from the heart about what we each wanted and needed and that we would work through any conflict that arose. Because of our long history of acceptance of each other, it felt safe for me to be myself. Because of our practice with conflict resolution and the rewards it brings for further closeness, we were both motivated to assert ourselves and to compromise.
One of the glorious features of the place we stayed was that we could walk to most of the hiking trails. Both of us love to hike and find our connection with God in nature. The red rock formations of Sedona stretch up toward the sky in humble breathtaking beauty. There is a magical energy that feels palpable. It is especially strong at the vortexes or energy centers. On the third day we hiked all the way to Cathedral Rock and climbed it to experience the vortex energy. The hike was long and it was hot with not much shade. We got an early start and stopped to eat our lunch on the trail when we found a shady spot. It was so much fun to eat my delicious food and spend time with my dear friend. Both of us can be kind of obsessive and worry a lot. We could each share what we were obsessing about in the moment and be listened to respectfully. I felt safe enough to share my unresolved issues and to receive being held in love. Out of sharing what was in the way of my joy it could peek through and emerge in gratefulness. Sharing about the past and the future created more space for the present.
Climbing up the rock face was scary and exhilarating. I was aware that our kindness toward each other made it easier for me to be kind to myself. I could embrace my fear more lovingly. At the top we found the vortex and hung out being quiet and saying our respective prayers and singing our own chants. I felt a pervasive sense of peace and well-being and a strong connection to my inner divine and to the people I love. I noticed that on the way down I wasn't as afraid even though climbing down a steep rock face is usually more scary than going up.
By the end of the hike, which seemed like it would never end, we were both tired and cranky and that was OK too. It was fun to roll our eyes and complain and laugh at ourselves for the challenges of our aging bodies.
All during the trip we stayed in good communication about what we were each going to do and checked things out with each other to see if it was OK. One of the joys of the trip was to have conversations about how our work intersects. She is a scientist with a keen interest in the workings of the brain and a deep commitment to teaching. I am passionate about the mind-body-spirit connection and supporting people's growth. Both of us love our work and we got into some great discussions about human consciousness and the anatomy of the brain. I learned so much from her depth of knowledge and her receptivity to my ideas. She was reading my favorite book the presence process and sharing that with her was divine.
It was so clear how much we value each others' friendship and are grateful to have nurtured it for all of these years. She shared something with me that she was afraid to and got to let go of holding onto it and feel relieved. My challenge came when I backed up into a truck with our rental car and dented it. I was really upset and didn't have to try not to be. I asked to be quiet on the drive back from the hike and she let me know I could ask for support however I wanted it. I think I was easier on myself than I would normally have been because I didn't feel pressure to keep her from being upset about my being upset. We agreed to create a trip to be together by ourselves next year. Maybe we will even return to Sedona. The trip helped me to remember the rewards of prioritizing my friends. It's easy to take them for granted in the flow of family, partner and work. Friends are a treasure to be honored with time money and energy. Life is so much richer that way.