For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length–and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.
– Carlos Castaneda
As a university student, I read Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan. If you are not familiar with the book, it is the story of the author’s spiritual journey as guided by the Yaqui Indian shaman, Don Juan. It was extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. This was partly due to its departure from the western world’s sense of spirituality, but also because of its drug use. Don Juan used peyote and the mescal cactus to induce a sense of euphoria that allowed him to get in touch with his inner consciousness. He would literally leave his physical being behind and become closer to being one with the universe.
In the book, Don Juan tells Castaneda that everyone has a spot. This is your place of power, wisdom, and clarity of mind. When Castaneda finally found his spot, it turned out to be a place on the wooden floor of his house not much bigger than his seated body. There was nothing outwardly fancy or fantastic about his spot, but it was the place where he was able to channel his energy to overcome his inner, and in the case of the book, outer demons.
As I thought about this, I realized that I too have a spot. It is unadorned and the world passes it by without giving it more than a glance, but to me it is practically sacred. As I recall from the book you are not supposed to divulge the location of your spot lest you open yourself up to harmful spirits, but since I have no fear of ghosts or the Boogieman, I’ll tell you mine. Facing my house, it is on my front porch at the base of the right column just above the steps down to the sidewalk. I was drawn to this spot almost immediately after buying the house. It is where I sit and play guitar on a warm summer evening. It is where I converse with family and friends as they sit at the porch table. It is where I sit and do nothing other than think about life past, present, and future.
In The Teachings of Don Juan, Castaneda used his spot to protect him from evil spirits that were awoken by his venturing into the world that exists beyond human consciousness. Thankfully, I don’t need such protection, but I do need a place to retreat to when I am feeling attacked by my own inner demons. My spot and my guitar offer me a sense of peace and shelter that no other place does. I’ve tried playing guitar at my kitchen table. It doesn’t work. The same goes for my back porch, my bedroom, and even the base of the left porch column. The guitar may be superfluous — it’s the spot that matters.
Where is your spot? Have you found it without even realizing what it was? Do you have more than one spot? I believe that you don’t choose the spot. Rather, the spot chooses you (akin to the wand choosing the wizard). Mine chose me without any consultation on my part. I expect that those of you who have found your spot will understand that.