A journey not uncommon in the beginning takes shape: airports, security, luggage, buses, hotels. The bustling city of Manaus with a million faces, progressive and more contemporary than most. Beautiful people, smooth bronze skin, white teeth, generously proportioned. Living and eating well, celebrating community contentedly.
The first dock buzzing with activity was left behind in our wake as we jetted across the wide rivers where the Rio Negro collides with the Amazon in a stalemate—never merging. Their colors contrasting as black coffee touches mocha, two different life forces. They timelessly coexist without compromise, not even their temperatures yielding to each other’s current and substance. At the far shore the crowd thins and materials become simpler; the people of the river are far less absorbed in self and instead are watchful and curious.
The bus to the next boat leaves the paved road and the jungle begins closing in. Leaving the final checkpoint we drink fresh coconut water in the shell served with a toothless grin and a machete. We are refreshed. Down the steep embankment at the rivers edge one traveler falls and we retreat in time, back across the waters from where we just came to the bustling city. An injury is bound and a seeker takes a premature flight home.
Returning the next day, a party of two, myself and my guide. I approach the embankment once more, as in a dream, and pause a moment for the one who did not pass. We proceed. The river winds, the stillness pulls the stress out of my body like a long splinter and lungs open and breathe deeply. Arriving at a remote dock to fellow journeyers—already connecting with each other and the place, laughing and sharing on an intimate level—I smile. Time will not sever the bonds that form here each moment. Once at the cabin, bare feet stand on the wooden deck overlooking a pond where the mother Cayman floats in, watching over their eggs under the shade native trees.
Dinner is served: fresh fish, fruits, rice and pasta. A peaceful contentment settles. The only thoughts nagging are of those not present, ones who would have soaked up the magic of the stars and the half-moon, later reflected off the dark water as the canoes slice through. The occasional splash of the oars breaks the serenity but does not diminish the nocturnal sounds of a world that comes to life after sunset. I could feel the tension abating, muscle chords in need of expert hands relaxing, the burdens weighing down the shoulders lifts. Yet as they subside, like the rivers in dry season, an impression like the high waterline on the trees remains as a reminder. Questions rise like air to the surface from the deep, priorities are measured, actions pondered; then strength generates from within, starts flowing, and connects with the untamable wild.
My eyes open; the forest is beautiful, waiting to be explored in the days that follow. It speaks its mind clearly. It will not be hurried. It does not yield, and will welcome only those who approach it with genuine respect. Herein lays my learning from the jungle. Intoxicating beauty beckons, while thorns command a conservative distance. The surface lends peace and confidence, but underneath lies complexity, danger; even death. A continuous contradiction: offering life, yet willing enough to take it from those not wise enough to appreciate its power—those foolishly seeking to force their will upon it. Never is there a time to take her for granted, too many unknowns exist to the unfamiliar wayfarer.
Never have I been in a place that I identified with more. To become one with what it represents, to look into its soul and know we are the same. All givers of life and guardians of dreams must marry laws of nature with discipline, and mutual respect. Only then will inner strength flow up from the roots, reaching to touch the starlit sky. I will continue to seek its calm even after I leave this place. Waiting with no intense hurry, seeking the stillness and patience in knowing what will be will be. I, too, remain unyielding; never compromising integrity nor bending to insincerity. I invite the calm, for this is where the true power of the Amazon lies. Not in the force of the winds and torrential downpours that soaked us to the skin in seconds; they are but a fleeting and short lived chaos.
I invite all fellow seekers to be the forest in belief and essence of nature. To continually desire to be awakened each sunrise to the potential of maturing years and experience. To give back and share with others so they too will see themselves as they were destined to be. At Viridian we will labor together to preserve the gift of our earth—as there is no more glorious charge. We are the change. We are Generation V.