Ecstasy: the dictionary describes it as ‘rapturous delight’. It is that sense of intense bliss. Ecstasy isn’t something we can experience on a permanent or continual basis, but maybe we can increase its frequency. As the word suggests, ecstasy ec – outside and stasis our state, it suggests it occurs when we are out of our normal state. Yet I think ecstasy can be achieved more often when in fact we are ‘in our true state’. Maybe 99% of our existence is actually experienced being ‘out of state’. What does it take to get ‘in state’, to get in touch with our true self? I discovered the answers this morning running down a mountain and picking up a hitchhiker with a rainbow coloured tie dye t-shirt, clutching a hoola hoop and a pair of pineapple and banana maracas.
Could it be that we spend most of our lives lost in our thoughts?
Are we like displaced refugees wandering from place to place looking for a place called happiness?
It is when we stop wandering for a moment and take rest from our thoughts that possibly then we are given momentary asylum into the state of ecstasy?
Have you ever met someone who was eccentric? You know, a little left of centre, maybe they were a little odd or different?
Today, I had the opportunity to meet such a fellow on my way back from climbing the sacred mountain of Wollumbin.
Kool & the Shakers
To go home I needed to pass through the Northern NSW country town of Murwillimbah. As I passed the bridge over the Tweed River a white bearded man in a rainbow coloured tie dye t-shirt holding a hoola hoop caught my eye as he stood on the curb trying to flag down motorists. In that split second I decided to offer him a ride.
I pulled to the side of the road, stopped and reached over to open up the passenger seat. I asked him where he was heading and helped get his hoola hoop into the back seat while he climbed in the passenger seat.
Bound for Byron Bay
He wanted to head down to Byron Bay where he would spend the day walking to the Byron Bay Lighthouse and busking in town. Immediately we struck up a conversation. I was keen to learn more about this bearded ‘colourful character’.
His stage name was Kool and the Shakers. He performs outside of the Northern Hotel in Byron Bay. Kool said he twirls his hoola hoop and shakes his pineapple and banana.
His energy and ability to make me smile was beautiful. I had already had a great day and he left me beaming that there are people out there who know how to be themselves and in doing so helps to add a bit of colour and joy to the world.
This eccentric’s energy was electrifying. I could understand how he could take pedestrians in Byron Bay out of their state to experience moments of laugher and joy.
Kool is on Facebook, just look up Kool and the Shakers. Below are some comments from people who have met him:
LOVE YA KOOL!!! Kool comes into my shop and shakes his pineapple regularly and brightens up my day every time! Shake it baby! Xx
Amazing good energy love this guy shake your pineapple!
ABSOLUTE LEGEND! A true shining light of Byron’s heart, we love you Kool!
If you think about it, the word ‘eccentric’ means out of centre, that is, the person is left of centre, they are peculiar, different, unusual. Yet who’s centre are we talking about? Society’s centre of course. It is society’s centre that turns us into robots and takes us away from out true centre, our true north.
Anyone who doesn’t conform to the norm is an unconformist. They are different as if being different is a crime.
Being normal is highly overrated.
The word norm comes from the Latin word norma which was a carpenter’s square, a rule or pattern. Who wants to be normal, To fit into a pattern, when instead one can be oneself?
I wonder what Kool’s real name was, I definitely don’t think it could have been Norm!
Prior to picking up Kool to give him a lift I had climbed Wollumbin. This mountain who’s profile is like that of the head of a reclining person is sacred to the local Bundjalung people. The name means ‘cloud catcher’ or alternatively, ‘fighting chief of the mountains’. As I climbed the summit, I was enveloped in clouds and the name seemed apt. Wollumbin National Park is part of the World Heritage Site Gondwana Rainforests of Australia.
Before starting my climb to the top in my heart I first asked for permission from the mountain, and listened to my gut if I had any negative feelings. I also asked that the mountain would protect me while I was with her. I also asked her to provide me with some insight as I have been feeling in a bit of a rut lately.
Shift Your Physiology Shifts Your Psychology
I had come to the sacred mountain of Wollumbin to let go of the ‘static’ energy I was feeling. When one feels ‘stuck’ I believe that to shift this energy we need to shift our physical energy. Vigorous intense exercise is a great way to clear our mind.
After about two months of long hours at work, and little exercise I needed to really ‘blast’ this static energy. Climbing the remnants of a volcano made sense. Upon starting the climb I immediately felt short of breath and my pulse rate racing. I realised just how out of shape I was. Even though I passed other climbers along the way, I still felt ‘unfit’.
It quickly dawned on me that the insight I had asked the mountain for was right in front of me. The fact that I was huffing and puffing when my previous walk at the end of last year after coming back from the long pilgrimage overseas, was so effortless.
I no longer ‘fitted’ with the person I thought I was – I was ‘unfit’ (and even some of my clothes were feeling quite ‘fitted’ lately). What the mountain had revealed that I couldn’t compare myself with others. That there is no ‘normal’. I easily walked past other hikers, but the fact that I was out of my ‘normal’ is all that I needed to focus on.
Head In the Clouds
The last 100 metres for those who haven’t climbed Wollumbin is a steep almost vertical ascent scrambling over rocks and holding onto a chain part of the way. It is definitely the ultimate test of one’s fitness.
Reaching the 1,156 metre summit it was covered in clouds with occasional glimpses of the surrounding landscape below. On a clear day one can see all the way to Byron Bay where Kool was headed.
There were other hikers on the summit who complained about the lack of visibility but I didn’t feel disappointed. To me standing atop a mountain enveloped in mist was magical, mystical. I understood that just like the clouds that move across the mountain revealing glimpses, so to does she reveal glimpses of our own truth if we pay attention.
Permission To Be Me
After cooling off and resting on the ‘cloud-catching’ summit I started the descent. I carefully made my way to the bottom of the rock scramble and gave myself permission to be me.
I had come to this mystical mountain to be told that its ok to be me.
Finding My Feet
I proceeded to take off my shoes and run down the mountain. I felt drawn for my feet to touch the earth, to connect to the energy, to strip away fears and expectations, to fly.
The path was very rocky and it didn’t take long for my tender feet to wince in pain standing on sharp rocks or small pebbles. As I ran down, I let go of the thoughts of twisting my ankle or potentially breaking a leg, I stopped looking at the walkers going up or down who were astounded that I would be running bearfoot on hard uneven rocky terrain.
I let go of thought, I embraced the pain, and with each stony stab I began to ‘find my feet’. Or should I say my ‘feet found the earth’. I just needed to simply allow my body intelligence connect to the earth and guide me down safely.
I had a couple of years ago ran down this very same mountain. It was a test back then to see if I still had some level of fitness. It was a mad rush down the mountain and by the time I reached the bottom the soles of my feet were battered and bruised.
This time taking into consideration my level of fitness had deteriorated, I allowed my body to get in tune with the mountain. I ran down the mountain yet in a much more ‘fluid’ way than previously. I felt my feet intuitively find the right stones like water passing over rocks in a stream.
I began to gauge the right ‘speed’ and ‘rhythm’ and when I started to drift out of trance and came into thought I would slow down as fear and self-preservation kicked in and I would begin to find stones that gave me pain.
Mt Warning is the European name of Wollumbin. It was named by Lieutenant James Cook to warn others that came after him of dangerous reefs offshore. When I was in fear, the rocks I encountered down the mountain became reef.
Earthstasy is the sense of ecstasy we experience when we let go of thoughts and connect with our body to Mother Earth. It is the flow, like water tumbling effortlessly over rocks in a mountain stream. When I was in flow I experienced earthstasy, my feet being guided from rock to rock, sliding down the mountain.
I felt this joy take over as I let go of fear and ran freely. The more I ran the less my feet hurt almost as if I was floating on a electromagnetic cushion or skating on smooth rocks. In those moments it took me back to childhood as I used to fearlessly run across the rock pools by the sea.
The Ecstasy of Eccentricity
At the bottom I thanked the mountain for delivering me safely and providing me with such deep insights. I had to climb the mountain and then run down barefoot to deeply understand that it was OK to be me.
I don’t have to be ‘normal’, and nor should I aspire to be so. It is OK to be eccentric, in fact, to experience ecstasy I need to never let go of eccentricty. Being ‘out of centre’ from the ‘norm’ is a blessing.
To my surprise, though my feet were a little tender they were nothing compared to my previous experience running down the mountain.
Explode With Ecstasy
Wollumbin, the mountain I climbed, is the volcanic plug of the now weathered away Tweed Volcano. Though no longer active, it is a reminder to express one’s energy, to allow our joy to explode, to live with passion and energy and the knowledge that you are being your true authentic self.
A Little Loopy
Now how would it be if you allowed yourself to be yourself? Forget what the Jones’ may think. This is your life. We are all a little loopy, we are all a little left of centre. It is so difficult to keep up pretences for too long. It drains your energy.
A loop is really a circle, and being loopy is really about being on the perimeter or circumference of the circle. It is more fun living on the edge!
By letting go of who you think others want you to be and allow yourself to be yourself, you will discover a level of joy, an ecstasy that isn’t short lived by that achieved through drugs and alcohol, and often used to take us away from the artificial culturally created centre or norm, but one that comes from deep within.
Permission To Be You
When we allow our true colours to show, our life can become more rich and enjoyable. We begin to realise that we are ‘colourful characters’, that by being ourselves we give permission for others to be their true selves.
Here’s to discovering your true centre, even if it is left of centre to the norm. Here’s to people like Kool and the Shakers. Here’s to running down a mountain barefoot. Here’s to shaking your pineapple or banana!
You will find that when you allow yourself to be the kooky, crazy, nutty, eccentric that you are, you will attract others like you, just like I did picking up a hitchhiker.
After dropping of Kool I continued along the freeway and while I was basking in the glow of the encounter with Kool, I see to my left a lady riding a motorcycle and wearing a pink fluffy helmet with pink floppy ears flapping in the wind, and I couldn’t help but smile…