I like a place where nature feels like she is still in control. I like a place that has four seasons. I like a place that doesn’t even attempt perfect. I like a place with history worn on the sleeve. I like a place that challenges me and makes me feel like I need to step away from this screen and just go. Anywhere. Anytime. Camera in hand. Notebook in pack and dust on the soles.
My morning ritual here is very different from my morning ritual in California. Here I’m on my bicycle by 5:30 AM. Layered up, 800 lumens blazing my path. Alone. Just the sound of my freewheel to keep me company. And the birds. I go for nearly two hours. (More if I can.)
Back at the casita I fire up the ancient coffee maker and carefully prepare the black fluid that powers the world. (It’s not oil.) I grab my book and my journal and I start reading and taking notes. Now, a few days ago at a yard sale, I did something I never do. I took something home from the sale. I don’t like yard sales but a friend was having a rather large one and needed help so I pitched in. On a table near the front was a Nepalese incense holder. I took it.
Inside were thirty-year-old incense. But they still work and I love how they smell. So this is it for me here. Bike as the sun comes over the Sangres. Coffee, read, write. All before 8 AM. This is a place of up early down early. There really isn’t much open after 10 PM and that is fine with me. Those days are over. The sunrise is my time.
Here is the takeaway. Sometimes a ritual can help you reach a place you need to reach. When I’m on the bike I’m often lost in thought and a million mental miles away from where I am. Even when I’m going 40mph downhill I will often be deep in thought about something else. Strange and dangerous, I know. Distracted could be the single most appropriate adjective of our entire culture. We find it hard to focus. We drift. We don’t pay attention to the monumentally important things but we know all about meaningless minutia.
It is believed, in certain circles, that the smoke from incense has the power to cleanse and to created the atmosphere required for ritual. I don’t know if this is true, and if I did I wouldn’t tell you because I’m a selfish a$#hole who would want you to discover this on your own. But, I WANT to believe this to be true. So light up my friends and see where the smoke takes you.