We sat on a hill overlooking Puget Sound, the last of the day's warmth fading away as the sun dropped low on the horizon. We had been talking for almost an hour, but I had not been able to say what I had wanted to. I couldn't form the right words, in the right combinations, to express those things that I had mulled over for a month in the wilderness. I had turned myself inside out in the Rockies, not a pleasant experience, and had found understanding. But, I couldn't bring those words out to her. Not with her sitting next to me, the nervousness spilling off of her in waves. Our time was over. I bore her no animosity, no ill feelings. I now understood the difference between pity and compassion and knew that it was the latter that I felt for her. Cold, we walked back to the parking lot, laughing occasionally, and promising to stay in touch. I watched her drive away and pondered the Butte vision. As much as I didn't want it to happen, I could see no reason for doubting its inevitability.
Over the next three months I healed. In leaps at times, at other times I fell backwards. But, inexorably, I moved forward. I came to understand myself better than I had at any time in my life, to understand what I had done in the past and why. To understand where I wanted to bring my life, where I wanted to go, who I wanted to be. Not in a physical sense or a mental sense or a spiritual sense. For these three things, the body, mind, and spirit, that we, myself included, frequently divide ourselves and our lives in to, are an illusion. There is no division of the Self in to parts. There is only a whole. The hard part is knowing intrinsically that there is no Self. Hence, there can be no division of it. I was beginning anew, starting a new track that would lead me to someplace better, to a better tomorrow. None of this would have been possible without the month spent in the Rockies. Without the Springtime, and the suffering that ensued, I would not have understood what I understand now. I would have gone on as before, a mouse on a treadmill running toward something that cannot be reached, unless the mouse first jumps off. I still keep my eyes open, hoping to find an opportunity to repay the debt that I have incurred, hoping that what I saw in Butte will not come to fruition, hoping that I might be able to stop it. Yet I watched her begin to self-destruct, to make choices that brought about immediate and severe consequences, to begin to become the Butte woman. Hope is our greatest strength, even if it is our greatest illusion as well.