Sometimes people walk into your life and serve as a tuning fork, they realign everything you think you are, the things you thought you needed and wanted. They re-calibrate your compass. I had a weekend, a time warp, a vision quest in the dry hot hills of eastern Montana late this summer with Forest Woodward and Max Lowe, and only now, weeks later can I look back and write about it. Summer is officially over, and I am hot, tongue tied, and wondering if any of this was real. It was one of those summers that shakes you to the core, tests everything, and leaves you beaten and half drunk in the afternoon. To catch up to speed, read my revelations on Saturn Return or take a trip down my blog, but bring a drink with you.
I drove east and felt as I got farther from everything I knew, a loosening in the knots around my heart. I’d been feeding myself the same narrative for months on end, a story on the things my life was made of. Suddenly, it didn’t seem so true. At the end of my drive these two wonderful men greeted me with open arms and a full bottle of tequila and we took residence for the weekend in Max Lowe’s family homestead, with no running water and no electricity, and it was perfect. Max is a photographer, film maker, and generally warm hearted human. He is a born and bread Montana man living in Bozeman and traveling the world shooting for a variety of outlets that will take him to SE Asia, and Patagonia this fall. He is currently working on a documentary, Living Rivers, highlighted on National Geographic. He taught me how to fly fish, taught me there is a language to be learned on the banks of this river. Taught me a lot more than that too.
I ended up in this cabin in the woods in Montana because of the video below, The Important Places. Forest created it in search of finding some missing pieces of his fathers youth, framed around a rafting trip down the Colorado River. I can’t do it justice, you have to watch it. I cry every time. It asks some good hard questions, on heritage, time, and what it means for our bodies to grow weary with these souls still trapped inside. I’ve been fascinated with his work ever since. Forest is or seems to me, a roamer, but with the strong intentions – photographer, film maker, mystical guide. I don’t know. Being near him for a weekend taught me something about tempo, taught me something about being present. His thirst for every crevice of this earth was only paralleled by the smile he wears while wandering through it. I fell into their world, and the way they saw the world, and time for three days crawled to a stand still. We swam in hot springs, and they cooked me trout from the creek out back on a wood burning stove, they photographed me naked under the stars and we drank whiskey in roadside bars. By the time I left I felt like I’d been taken, recreated, and set lose once again on the world, ten fold more capable and stronger than before.
But, it wasn’t just the combination of these men and my summer and the hot waters and the hills on fire in Montana. In the video, The Important Places, Forest reads a letter from his father in which it states, May you always remember the path that leads you back… back to the Important Places. And what I realized as I drove away after that weekend, filthy, dead tired, and heart full was that I’d found one of mine. Somewhere up there in Montana on the edge of the Wise River is one of My Important Places. A place which unstuck me, a place which showed me new folds in my heart, and new ways to breathe, and a better version of the person I might be capable of being.