Feb 17, 2009


I'm spending the next month at Esalen Institute, a spiritual retreat center located right on the California coast, about 20 miles south of Big Sur. It's a pristine and isolated place, with only a few scattered homes to the north and south and the Ventana Wilderness to the East. The facilities are rustic but homey, with great locally-grown food and natural hot springs that flow into tubs perched 150' above the surf.

There's an energy about Big Sur, and Esalen in particular, that I find spiritual and grounding. It's the most peaceful place I've ever been and a powerful environment for self-discovery. Apart from the magical setting I'm here for a workshop on Shamanism. The idea was planted in my head when I was here for a one-week workshop last year and something about it has resonated with me ever since. This Shamanism workshop coincided perfectly with a show opening I attended at Humboldt State University, and since I no longer have Wolfe to care for, I decided to go for it. Had you told me even a year ago that I'd be here doing this I would have thought you crazy.

My desire to bring Shamanism into my life stems from a desire to be of more service to the world. With the exception of the Humboldt show I haven't been exhibiting my photography much recently and so have been feeling very self-indulgent about my career. I think we all want to give back, to make a difference, and using photography to share how I see the world is my way to do that. But if I'm not showing much it all just feels like masturbating in the corner. I suppose I could give back in other ways, manning a soup kitchen or helping at a hospice, but Shamanism's goal of helping others includes a journey of self-discovery. It's that combination that makes it compelling to me.

I start down that path tomorrow, estatic to be here and totally open to wherever it leads me.

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