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The Urban Vision Quest

Originally posted in The Haven

Tonight, as I always do when I have an evening off, Ill drive down to the city of Waikiki, park my car the furthest from the city I can, and begin what is referred to as an Urban Vision Quest. I became aware of the act and its premise back in 2013 from an article on Bold and Determined, and although its singled out here and specified, I know for a fact we've all done it at some point in our lives. Whether exploring the streets of San Francisco under the cover of secrecy, hidden away after lying to our parents at 15, saying we would be "at a friend's house" for the duration of the weekend, or, as we now have the ability to do, flying into an unknown city to wander aimlessly, bereft of tangible direction, tracking towards the beating of our own incessant hearts, it's an experience weve all sought and completed. Whether Seattle, Washington, Las Vegas, Nevada or Sentosa, Singapore, we all have stories to tell.

Vision quests have been practiced by the Native American tribes indigenous to our country for the entirety of their existence, stretching from obfuscated antiquity to present modernity. Casting aside ridiculous notions such as cultural appropriation and farcical chicken or egg arguments, the idea is one that, when properly respected, can become a bountiful source of priceless introspection. However, as we are lacking the shamanic rituals natural to these people, as well as their rich, compelling histories, we are forced to compromise. Some tribes have been using the same areas for the traditional fasting, chanting and prayer for generations. We however, have our own towns, cities and parts of the country. This is where the Urban portion kicks in.

As I am a creature of extremes and abhor moderation, I tend to do a subdued version of the Quest most nights that Im off. Indeed, even after deployment ended nearly 2 years ago, I am still uneasy around large groups and crowds and Im fervently opposed to any kind of entrapment in a building or structure. While the ocean is palpably  gorgeous and mindnumbingly vast, I need land. Cities are perfect for this since they are teeming with life and energy, incredibly expansive and deceptively simple to melt into. Striding along, purposeful and focused, headphones in and eyes alert, Im hardly an attention grabbing sight. It makes anonymity guaranteed and ensures autonomy of movement.

The beauty of the UVQ is that, although there may be guidelines and recommendations, there are no codified rules or unerring instructions. I prefer to take mine in the form of a brisk walk. Others jog, some flatout sprint, while a truly disturbed few race along on a road bike. You can rollerblade, skateboard or scooter around. Fuck, Ive even done one on my hands, literally, on the beaches of Coronado, CA. Use whatever your preferred form of locomotion is, provided its physical. Long car rides and motorcycle runs are infinitely breathtaking and thoughtprovoking in their own ways, but for this type of spiritual introspection you need to sweat, and if depressing a gas pedal or revving a throttle cause you aerobic stress, youre in the wrong group.

A nutritional undercurrent that Ive noticed among the Brotherhood is the practice of fasting. Whether a Brother or Sister does IF, Intermittent Fasting, or abstains from eating every Sunday or so for religious reasons, the presence of the act is felt in The Haven. Coincidentally, in the Vision Quests of yore, the participants would fast for 4 days to attune their souls to the Spirit World. As such, as I can only speak from my own experience, I tend to ignore food for the duration of my Quest, rewarding myself with a huge meal at its conclusion. This, once again is a completely personal decision, at the complete discretion of those who will undertake the challenge. I need not remind our members of the benefits of fasting; Clarity of mind, enhanced reflexes, the incineration of unflattering body fat, and a generally warm, non-reactive demeanor. When combined with something as ethereally intense as an UVQ, the benefits triggered are instantaneous. Just make sure you eat afterwards until properly satiated.

During your UVQ, you may listen to music or choose to be enraptured by the orchestral scores of nature. I tend to jump back and forth several times between country music, podcasts, and the eternal beating of Neptune's waves caressing the powerfully carved shores. The audio doesnt matter exactly, so long as it's personally significant and stirs great introspection on your part. This isnt a gentle stroll down the docks with a cute girl on your arm. Its a form of active, self-guided meditation.

What's my purpose in life?
What's holding me back from fulfilling my dreams?
What pain am I avoiding?
Am I living for myself, or for a vindictive, coldly indifferent society?
What am I grateful for?

These are examples of questions you, not should, MUST ponder while undertaking this exploit. Consider what gnaws at your mind and tugs at your soul in the isolated stillness of the night, and combat it with all of the fury you can muster. The inertia created from the magestic coalescing of primal movement and rational, courageous reason will catapult you to new heights of awareness, motivation, capability and production. Dont be afraid to stare your demons in their faces, or at yourself in the mirror of self-actualization. Youll find those disturbing voices are hollow and incorporeal. As for your reflection peering back at you, if it's so unbearably hideous to you that you cant stomach to gaze upon it for more than a few moments, congratulations. You know what to fix.

The nocturnal breath of the Moon is electric and lively tonight, crackling with the excitement of people, here and long departed. This island is awash with mystery, secrets begging to be unearthed and monster's that must remain entombed. The questions I'll wrestle with tonight? Those, I cannot tell you, because they haven't revealed themselves to me yet. As I trudge down through the sands, into the sweltering wilderness of enamoured tourists and disgruntled locals, they will emerge from the husky smoke of the unknown. I will then vanquish them unhesitatingly, proud that Im moving one step forwards with each kill, towards the most complete, accomplished version of myself.

Then around 6 in the morning Ill eat 2 enormous steaks and a dozen eggs, sunny side up, because if Im starving right now, Im going to be fucking ravenous come daybreak. Best of luck.

Gino

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