By: You-yu Chiang
This is written in reflection of what has transpired over the trip to Yellowstone, over the course of the program so far to as of this moment 7:14 pm, June 19, 2015.
I sat in the tub, trying to play flashbacks of the foregone passing day in my mind. The pieces and bits of the magnificent scenery seen, however, failed me. They did not speak to me as distinctly as when I finally gave up the impossible undertaking of blogging it logically and sequentially. I gave in to feeling, and started to feel the every drop of water running through my hair, my skin, and I finally yielded most readily, perceptively, humbly to receive the messages Nature has left for me with this experience, though oddly in the tub.
Simply put, the trip to Yellowstone is a sensual experience.
It brings me to realize again how important it is to connect ourselves to our immediate surroundings with our every sense attentively, be it Nature, objects like the tub and water, or people, even just the siblings who were teaching each others, “Don’t touch me. He started it first,” when I sat beside them awaiting the Old Faithful to display its wonders.
Sensual, in what sense, you may ask. For example, the artificial hot spring at Chico did not bother me as much. It instead connected to my another sensual experience in Japan, where I was soaked in natural hot springs, with white snow and twinkling stars. Back in the pool, when I felt my senses, especially skin, every pore, vein, the blood running through, I was reminded of and awakened to perceive the present moment, there I was, even just in the pool. Senses and yielding agendas of the day to senses wondrously connects the past to the present, awaiting another awakening, the future.
It is later realized as a matter of course that it would be this way, as senses are how we bond with our immediate surrounding, the smell, touch, sound, vision, and thereby concieve memory. They play on your thoughts and registers in your mind as memory, filling the blank that is composed when events transpire. I love it when I spaced out to be in the moment, to feel with my skin the breeze, the heat, to touch the grass, to listen to the splashing water down at the Canyon, and to see with our own eyes, the blueness and the greenness of Mammoth Hot Springs, and how they all flow together in symphony to surround and embrace us.
Memory would never be precisely the same as of the moment it is conceived, but weaved by associations to senses, they can be awakened again and again, just as the things our our favorite childhood cookies do. Connected with senses, memory reaches deeper within, taking roots, starting to twirl a life of their own. Each time a memory resurges, it takes a different shape and refreshes our sense of being alive.
Sometimes we lose memories, thinking we’ve forgotten the event itself, but very often through associations with smell, sound, color, they would be brought back. Each time they are brought back, they come familiar but perhaps with shades of bizarre differences. To have the surprises of the differences, there first we need to be in the moment.
To a place like the Yellowstone, it is also significant to be simply standing there, perceiving the magnificence of Nature itself, immersed, covered, buried even by the immensity, as feeling insignificant is essential to a process of unifying with the whole of Nature and feeling the self gone and lost to ease and peace, the lullaby Nature sings.
Now, to at least make some specific connections to the actual trip, there is really nothing to complain. Back in the van with the quintessential American music Rob, Captain of Team Bison, had specifically prepared for us, which is Bruce Springsteen by the way, I asked Simon if everything had turned out as he planned. He said, mostly, except the wolves.
In my mind, though we didn’t see wolves, I found peace with it as encounters with Nature are precious, when they are serendipitous as such. So are with people we bond.
Continue with what Simon said.
I also like it a lot when Simon said, again in the van, (with the music of, Neil Young now) “Butte is not the most welcoming gateway to the West coz the pit is a reminder of what human consumption has done to the environment.”
Being there, connecting to Nature through senses, would be the best way to receive Nature’s welcome. In this mindset, even the sulfur was to my liking. Scientific knowledge needs actual experience to register in mind. Life, being alive, having live, needs being there to register, too.
Now something of what Kanisius said, when Siemeen pointed out the M on the mountain, suggesting we were close to home. He screamed in joy, “Missoula, we miss you!” and everyone in Team Bison laughed a hearty laugh connectingly. I took it to note that unconsciously, we’ve all made Missoula our second home, and it is to my liking.