Life in Transition

Tell It on a Mountain

Do we trust our vision?

By Diana Goetsch | November 18, 2015
Jeff Ruane/Flickr
Jeff Ruane/Flickr


Continued from last week’s column, “The Cabin.”

On an evening walk toward the end of my solo retreat in Colorado, I looked up at the mountain, determined to state out loud: “I want to be a woman.” No one was in sight, but I kept checking behind me and in the woods. I tried to say it a couple times, but nothing came out. Then something did. “I want to be a woman,” I said, barely above a whisper, and the mountain said, “Fine by me.” A tree said, “Okay.” “Like I care?” a chipmunk weighed in.

What visions do you trust? When you’re alone in a cabin for 12 days and something shows up in your stillest moment, is it real, or is it in need of a reality check? Is our everyday reality, as one Tibetan lama suggested, a fantastic rumor? Isn’t depression, my most constant companion these 50 years, the result of being out of sync with reality? Could decades of thinking of myself as male be a grand illusion? Who would believe it? Could I even believe it? (Dare I tell you the name of that cabin? It’s called “The Cabin of the Crazy One.”)

Here’s another vision: Packing up to leave, I saw a small girl. She was thin, with bright, deep-set eyes, the orbital bones beginning to show. She was being held hostage. I only glimpsed her, as if through a crack in a padlocked shack or the trunk of a car. She wrote a note on a scrap of paper. The note said, “Don’t forget me.” She was unsure I’d come back for her, yet I was her only hope, and she had no choice but to trust me. But here’s a question: Do I trust her? Nothing in my life had worked out, and here was this girl I’d never met, pleading. Do I let go of everything and base my life on her?

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