Floral Notes and Bardo: Held

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

On Saturday, walking around, warm and sunny, dirt and grass beneath our boots, Heather and I saw four different types of wildflowers.  That night, about a foot of snow fell.  So, we woke up in a different world.  Huge fluffy puffs of snow on the pines.  Bare aspen branches, twisting and artistic against — sky backdrop, also carrying loads of fresh white snow.


And, Heather had become sick with an infection.  Living up in the mountains without a car, we felt a bit worried and helpless.  At breakfast we saw John Ohm, who is Desung — harmony protector.  He’s been up here for twenty-something years and is a guardian.  Heather told him she needed to go to the doctor.  I’d never driven in the snow before, and there was lots of snow.  So, the situation wasn’t apparently easy.  Yet, within twenty minutes, our friend Mike volunteered (over the walkie-talkie) to drive us an hour into town so that Heather could get fixed-up.

It turned out to be a pretty fun field trip.  We stopped at a donut shop before the doctor’s office. Throughout the day, I really enjoyed spending time with Mike, who has been up here for a while but will be leaving soon.  In the waiting room, we discussed dharma, and later, how strange it is that Wombats poo cubes and stash their babies in disguising back-facing pouches just below their anuses.

We stopped for sandwiches and made it back up to the land late in the afternoon.  Heather and I enjoyed her warm bedroom and the heavy snow everywhere, listening to music in bed.  Her roommate Oakes came in and brought her gifts of small glass prisms to hang in her east-facing window so that rainbows may shoot into her room when the sun rises in the morning, then he offered a ride to dinner.

We didn’t walk in the deep snow at all, all day long. Annabelle, Heather’s other roommate, had given us a ride down to breakfast in the morning, and, after dinner, Joshua offered a ride back up.

The whole day was this touching display of community-family care and generosity.  We felt so held.  The only way that we can sustain living on this mountain together, in the middle of nowhere, is if we take care of each other.  And, we do.  I knew that already, but Sunday’s experience has brought another level of appreciation.  We walk the walk (or, give each other rides so that we don’t have to).

Before going to sleep, outside Heather’s room, which is in a forest, the moon was nearly full.  Thick snow everywhere, soft blue glow.  Quiet and still.  Inside the window, her room, candles flickering.  Warm.  The two environments, so complimentary.  So glad for both.  Baffled by my good fortune.  We listened to a bit of music and slept soundly.  Clear blue sky this morning, white snow.  White and blue.  Magic, magic.


Today is Heather’s fake birthday.  We listened to an Aphex Twin song before getting out of bed — according to tradition — titled “Avril 14.”  She invented a fake birthday for herself some years ago.  I can’t remember why, but I like it.  Happy fake birthday, Heather-honey.

— April 14, 2014


PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 


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