Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Gift of the Cosmos

At times my coaching clients benefit from visualizing clearly their goal and sending it out as a “request to the Universe.” Afterwards, the petitioner must watch for the signs that the Universe is answering. It will. This I know from many personal experiences.

Earlier this month, when the shadows of geographic nostalgia had grown deep and dark, I asked the cosmos to send me to a secluded, sylvan vacation spot, complete with crystal water cascading over boulders like my great-grandmother’s cabin in Yosemite, complete with good weather, forests, and wildflowers.

The endless flat expanse of the pampas. . . the wide brown waters of the Paraná. . . the bustle yet boredom of San Nicolás. I yearned for the break usually made necessary by my 90-day tourist visa. But this time, instead of crossing borders (as on nine previous occasions), I followed my husband’s advice and paid for a visa extension.

The moment I plunked down my 100 pesos at the local Naval Prefecture office and got my visa stamped (instead of getting it stamped upon return from Uruguay, Chile, or California), I was overcome by aching for long stretches of rugged coast, or forested steep river valleys.

That was when I issued my little request to the universe for an affordable retreat to a seaside or mountain paradise. I also made sure to mention it to Roberto!

“Honey, I really need a nature break,” I told my dear husband, who was anxiously awaiting our first shipments of blueberry bushes. “I can go on my own if you don’t have time,” I added. Bless his soul, within 24 hours he rearranged everything and put me in the car for a three-day vacation to the mini-mountains of Córdoba.

Neither of us had ever been to our proposed destination, though it sounded promising. Even so, I jettisoned my Thoreau-esque fantasies: anything that undulated and flowed would be acceptable. Besides, better Córdoba with Roberto than Yosemite solo!

To my amazement, we ended up in the paradise pictured above. It is such a secret, off-the-beaten-track marvel that I’m only sharing its location with my nearest and dearest. (Okay, try a bribe!)

Then again, do you want to drive seven hours on a two-lane road dodging tankers and semis, then rattle 55 kilometers on a dirt road through soy fields, then endure eight scary kilometers on something that may have been a dirt road 30 years ago? After fording a stream and crossing a crumbling bridge, we suddenly found ourselves in Paradise! (Of course Roberto drove--I really thought the roads impassable!)

Our grueling expedition was rewarded with the last of three pretty and well-appointed cabins in a semi-wilderness. Wildflowers and blackberries lined the paths that led me to the arroyo, complete with crystal water pouring over boulders! I drank in the scene for nearly an hour until the sun had nearly set. We agreed that we’d rather starve overnight than attempt those16 daunting kilometers to and from the nearest market by starlight. My request had been answered fully, I thought, by bringing us here.

But the Universe had more to offer! First our cabin neighbors—a delightful Cordoba family—brought over a liter of ice-cold beer. Later the caretaker couple delivered a platter of yummy gourmet appetizers, followed by a steaming pot of saucy pasta, and even good bottle of wine! Amazed and thankful, we savored every bite. (Argentinians like to eat well wherever they go!)

All lights, including the picturesque outdoor lamps, blinked out at midnight when the generators were turned off. No radios, no traffic. We hit the sack—a really comfortable bed—and were lulled to sleep by the music of water rushing over rock and of wind soughing through pines. No blaring amps, no dogs, no highway traffic. Heavenly!

Many pleasant dreams later, the brilliant sun already high in an azure sky, we awakened just as our thoughtful hosts showed up with a tray full of coffee, pastries, jam, and fresh OJ. Later the neighbors invited us to share a traditional barbecue lunch with all the trimmings. Later, with leftovers in the gas fridge, we did no cooking—my idea of a relaxing vacation!

In between we explored the arroyo, sat in natural jacuzzis, skipped stones, explored the pine forest, picked berries and rose hips, and sat on the cabin porch watching the stars come out. . . . zillions and zillions of them.

Sunday midday, on the long journey home, right at the bend in the road where one loses the panorama of the cute little mountains and pueblo, I burst into tears: “I’m not ready to leave.” So Roberto turned the car around to head back. The final gift was yet to come.

Striking stands of billowing pink cosmos flowers greeted us anew at the outskirts of town. “I want a picture!” Roberto pulled over. A crinkled senora hobbled out of the nearby humble abode to greet me with a smile, and I convinced her to pose (shyly!) with some of the six-foot flowering cosmos—all planted by her with her son over the years simply for the joy of passers by. Upon leaving she thrust a whole bag of cosmos seeds to plant back in San Nicolás—oddly enough, the origin of her first cosmos plant. A circle of wonder would be complete! I would take back a little of this paradise to sow at home and be the Miss Rumphius of the pampa (and if you’ve read Barbara Cooney’s wonderful children’s book, you get it!).

And so it was. . . for a whole weekend, we enjoyed this amazing response from the Universe. It was far beyond any expectations! I feel assured that the Universe really is listening to me. . . and in return, I vow to listen and respond to the Universe. What will it ask of me?

So how about it? The next time you have a goal or a dream, take time to visualize it clearly, then share your desire with the universe—and, if you want to hedge your bets, with someone who loves you! You’ll be amazed at what comes back! And remember to savor the gift of the cosmos on every dimension!

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