67 days to go: personal vision quest – part 4

The last installment of this series is hopefully the best.

Tonight I will finish the story I began last Tuesday with Part 1.

To recap: last Fri eve I returned to my favorite part of the El Yunque rainforest. After a profound meditation, I hiked down to the river barefoot and without light. That was an incredible experience. In the darkness, my senses expanded beyond what I had ever known as I became a creature of the jungle.

That night was the first time I had slept out in the open, without a tent, in the rainforest. It was under a decaying  tin roof  of a long abandoned hacienda.

Such an ecosystem is abound with life, especially at night. The noise level is incredible. Coqui tree frogs and crickets create a musical vibration that fills the night and envelops you completely. When you add the exotic jungle night birds, you get a true tropical soundtrack that serves to awaken and enliven ones senses and energies. It really is awe inspiring, but without a tent you are also completely exposed to any and all jungle creatures that come across your scent. Fortunately, there are no large or particularly dangerous animals in Puerto Rico. I was glad I didn’t need to worry about jaguars or poisonous snakes.

The most dangerous creature is a scorpion, but the most problematic are mosquitoes. Surprisingly, I have spent nights here where they were virtually non-existent. On this trip they were not bad for most of the night. Not until I climbed into my bed did they start to harass me. With no tent or netting to keep them away, all I could do was retreat under the blanket, with only a small hole to breath through. Even like that, I ended up getting a mosquito bite on my upper lip.

It was a rough night. Didn’t get much sleep. Stayed in the protective cocoon of my blankets until the powerful tropical sun drove away the diminutive pests.

I did have another visitor buzz me early in the morning. A hummingbird spent all day checking out the strange new visitor in her territory.

Photo of the Puerto Rican Emerald, Zumbadorcito de Puerto Rico

Hummingbird medicine: “It is said that Hummingbird brings love as no other medicine can. Follow Sister Hummingbird and you will experience a renewal of the magic of living.

 Hummingbird is loved by the flowers and plants, for as it sucks the nectar from the flower, the plant reproduces and more of its kind are created. Its presence brings joy to the observer watching it. The hummingbird is the only creature that can stop dead while traveling at full speed; can hover; or can go forward, backward, up or down. Great Spirit created Hummingbird to be slightly different from other feathered creatures. Hummingbird lives on nectar and searches for the sweetness of life. It’s purpose is to pollinate the flowers of the world. Its long “nose” lets it bypass the often tough and bitter outer layer to find the hidden treasurers underneath. The song of hummingbird awakens the medicine flowers.

Hummingbird’s message is adaptability in life’s many situations and being able to “roll with the punches”. If you have hummingbird medicine, you adapt easily to whatever situation you may find yourself in, and make the most of your new circumstances. You don’t waste time looking back and wishing for “what was” for you are concerned with making the most of “what is”. ”  http://www.birdclan.org/hummingbird.html

I spent the whole of the day at my camp, doing Yoga, meditating, sleeping. Set up a yoga swing from the rafters. I could hear and smell the people who were visiting the river down below, but I was not feeling very social on this quest. So I stayed in my space until the end of the day, when everyone had left.

I headed down to the river with not much daylight left. I wanted to go earlier, but it had been raining. That sometimes happens in the rainforest.

The sound of the river had increased, and I was excited to see how high the water had got with the rains. Sometimes the rains cause intense flash floods that turn the tranquil streams into raging torrents.

I made it down to the river just before dark, and immediately began to pray and meditate at the ceremonial altar. Shortly after I arrived, I could hear the roar of the river change its pitch to a higher frequency, with an intense hiss from the waterfall that told me the water was rising still.

I wanted to look at the waterfall, which is not visible from shore, but was concerned about the rising water levels. Every year in El Yunque, dozens of souls are lost to flash floods.

I am an adventurer, but I am also careful and cautious. I have 2 children who need their father still, so I try to not be unduly reckless.

Being a Cancer, a water sign, I am at home in this element, and have played in it my entire life: Swimming, sailing, canoeing, whitewater kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, etc. I’ve had a few close calls, but have made it through some extraordinary situations.

In this case, I mad a careful evaluation of the area and determined that even if a flash flood came, there was a safe place to exit.  And so I entered the muddy, swollen stream and made the short swim to take a look at the waterfall.  The water was higher and more powerful than I had ever seen it. It was exciting and exhilarating.

This was the same waterfall that had called me to swim under it and enter the cave behind it on my very first visit there, in the black of night (Part 2). Since that time, 2 years ago, I had been to the cave many times, including the night before, when the water had been low and it was not much of a challenge at all.

I was not even considering it this evening. Too dangerous. It was getting dark quickly, the water was too high and rising. I doubted it was even possible because the current was so strong.

But still there was this small voice inside that was calling to me. I brushed it off as my ego trying to be macho. No, I said to myself, there is no shame in knowing when nature is too powerful to toy with.

But still, the voice persisted. Calling me to the cave behind the waterfall.

I thought, maybe – if I had a little more daylight – then I would try.

The voice told me it would only take 30 seconds to swim under – if I could.

Just the thought of it brought up so much fear. But the voice persisted.

After studying the current, the river and the waterfall, I concluded that it was probably not possible. The current was so powerful and the river so narrow at that point. But it was also not terribly dangerous. The worst that would happen is that I would get pushed back.

Eventually I gathered my courage, overcame my fear and made the decision to give it a try. I climbed up on a rock beside the torrent and dove straight into it, towards the waterfall. I felt the current grab me immediately. I know there was no fighting it and the only possible way was to go deep, under the current. So I dove down to the rock overhang about 10 ft underwater, a route that I  usually take that brings me to my destination. But this time I was met with a strong current that pushed me back downstream. I knew better than to fight the current, so I surrendered and let it carry me downstream to the place I had dove from.

There. I was satisfied that I had tried. It took some courage. I tried and failed, but that did not bother me.

But still the voice was there. Maybe if I go down deeper, the current wont be so strong. Fortunately there was another voice present: the voice of reason! It told me that I had tried the impossible and that was good enough. Plus it was continuing to get darker and the river continuing to rise. At this water level, the cave behind the waterfall my be flooded anyway and there might be no place to surface and get air.

The call of the challenge was more convincing than my reason and fear, so I decided to try one more time. This time, when I dove into the rushing current, I went straight down, maybe 15 feet deep. Because of the silt of the high water and the fading daylight, it was really dark under the water. Even with my eyes wide open under the water, it was pitch black at that depth. But the current was indeed less, so I swam upstream toward the waterfall. Just as I was almost there my body was grabbed by the rushing hydraulics of the swollen waterfall and once again I was swept downstream.

Surely that was enough to satisfy the small crazy voice that kept pushing me. 2 attempts is more than anyone else would ever do in these circumstances. But no. The voice was not satisfied. I did not go all the way to the bottom.  Plus 3 tries is such a nice round number. And you know what they say: 3rd time’s a charm. Just as before my arguments of reason and common sense could not overcome the call. So I answered. One more time.

For the last time I dove in, and swam hard for the bottom. This is a very deep part of the river, where the canyon walls get narrow. It was a spooky feeling going deep into total darkness. It went deeper than I imagined, but eventually I touched the bottom and began to swim upstream. Sure enough – there was no current on the very bottom and I was able to swim right up to, underneath and behind the raging waterfall.

It was glorious!

I couldn’t believe that I had actually made it there.

I stayed there in the cave for just a few minutes, feeling the thundering vibrations of the water echoing off the stones and shaking my bones. So much power! I took a moment to be still and take it all in. Absorbing the primal life force energy of the elements. It was then that I realized that the small voice was that of my spirit or my soul. It KNEW what was possible for me, even when I did not. by following the call I achieved something so extraordinary that fed and strengthened my spirit more than anything else I could imagine.

I left my fear in the river that night, in the cave behind the waterfall.

And my spirit soared.


Robbin Pulver, Inner Spirit Artworks


What is your inner voice calling you to do?

Please do answer in the comment section below.

1 Thought.

  1. “Shanti” is a sanscrit word that means “Inner Peace”. Every day it is my intention to create inner peace for myself. The sound of my children’s laughter and joy brings me peace. Creating order in my life brings me peace. Helping others in need brings me peace. Reading my son’s blog brings great happiness and much inner peace.

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