Hannah is a gardener, a student of landscape design, and a deeply curious being with a love of wild nature, poetry and play. Palo Alto, CA
I signed up for EOA without a clearly articulated purpose, but with an overwhelming feeling and intention. I grew up in a city exemplary of modern society, but I had been living rurally for about 5 years, some of that off the grid. And what this time offered was a perspective on our culture that was confusing to me in my bones, but if you had asked me to explain it, it would have been about superficialities, like clothes, money, and status. These had come to feel immensely trivial and actually detrimental to our flourishing as humans.
But there was this undercurrent, that I can articulate now, post-EOA, that was simultaneously moving in me. It involves moving on from a very deep, adolescence-long depression. It involves my coming of age, and my waking up to the incredible and challenging truths about being human.
It was through Buddhist philosophy and a lot of time alone on the land that I began to realize this societal malaise I was observing and feeling may actually stem from this deep disassociation from our true nature. That of hardy, earth-based beings that need to be outside and, simultaneously, this ephemeral spirit that understands and connects with everything else that is of this earth, and is certainly beyond words (though some poets get close).
EOA helped me to cultivate this understanding. But digging into this understanding made me realize just how untethered I felt. Untethered from the ties that we are told hold us together such as family, friends, jobs, but also my very existence. How can we be so immensely unimportant in the vastness of space and time, and yet feel so deeply and truly that we are meaningful? How can life be so sensual on one level, but so intangible on another?
I was lost in this deeply confusing space between form and formless, between deep grief and meaninglessness, struggling to reconcile that I am living, with the fact that soon I won't be. And these thoughts manifested some days as apathy, some days as elation, and I never knew which would show up when.
EOA gave me the space and support to explore all of this by giving me language, teachers who have helped me untangle the paradoxes that define our realities, ceremony and ritual, and one hundred poets that now fill my sense of isolation with one of camaraderie. And, very importantly, a community of guides and peers who structured my experience physically and spiritually.
How would you describe what EOA is to others?
It is hard to put into words something that is so expansive and so personal, simultaneously intangible and deeply felt. But this is what EOA is: a practice in expressing the most transcendent aspects of being human. We were asked to forsake formality and normality and were skillfully guided to allow the space to be filled with place, people, wildness, and everything else that showed up. With so little opportunity to engage with Spirit in our modern world, EOA not only provided the space and framework, but also the love and support to dive fully in and to re-emerge, again and again and again with gratitude and humility.
You must do it to know it. And if you are curious, you are ready!
Expressions: Vision Fast Confirmation
Confirmation introduction: I wrote my confirmation before my solo fast to explicitly mark the endeavor as a stepping off point for the rest of my life, shedding an old skin and beginning to grow a new one. It served as a way for the group to witness me individually, and continues to serve as a reminder of this commitment I've made to myself.
I know that I don't know, I know that the weight of not knowing does not have to equal a lack of self love, and that I am ready to carry the knowledge that the center is center-less, and that the self has no I, that I can be a black hole at the center of a galaxy, so full of old stars and dust, so full of echoes of ancestors, and simultaneously nothing but an event horizon, a happening, a net of quantum phenomena dancing through time, dancing lightly as I do, while simply passing through.