Recently, I visited The Salton Sea with my family.
The man-made lake is the largest in California and is near Palm Springs. Its a picture of desolation, pain, sadness, and… disaster.
The fish in the lake are all dead. There is no sand, but what appear to be shell-like salt deposits that crunch like pieces of plastic beneath your feet. The houses near the lake are almost totally abandoned. The only people you see there are the occasional tourist from out of state or from another country. Many of the buildings near the lake are dilapidated, covered in graffiti. There is an opaque, depressive mist-like cloud that hovers over the water. And then… there’s the stench.
A combination of rotten eggs, dead fish, and seagull urine, the stink of Salton Sea is one of the most impressive bad smells I have ever smelled in my life, far surpassing my old standard: discarded-corona-bottle-in-trash.
The stink seeps into your pours, rattles your brain, and spits black char into your spirit.
Invisible to the naked eye is a palpable wound over the land. A sharp, deep, cut somewhere deep within the lake. Silently moaning, weeping, grunting. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they found an ancient depressed sea creature inside Salton Sea–somehow it would make more sense of the place than what actually happened to it–which was apparently a combination of hubris and mistake on the behalf of human developers: an attempt to redirect the Colorado river, in order to provide irrigation to help with agriculture, was blown up by an unanticipated overflow from a flood, and, well… a giant lake, where there was no lake before, resulted.
During the 1950s, The Salton Sea was a popular vacation destination, but due to pollution and the increased saltiness of the lake, the celebrities and the tourists stopped coming.
The Salton Sea is no longer a place to go to have fun and reminisce about the past in the summertime, it’s a place you go to fear the future in the wintertime.
As soon as you arrive, you want to leave. But something about it cries out for your attention. I even find myself writing about this lake even though–the gods honest truth–I have no true desire to share the experience with you. But something about that place changes you.
I was changed.
The Salton Sea is the result of mans drive for conquering nature leading to an inevitable environmental tragedy. We took the beauty of nature and suffocated it for our own selfish ends. We thought we could master nature, but, really, we should have just trusted it and left it alone.
The Salton Sea is what happens when we, humans, have lost connection with nature and with our own nature which, I believe, is loving. Unconditionally loving.
The Salton Sea is what happens when, instead of healing our own wounds, we dump it all on the earth. Creating a cycle of self-sabotage.
According to people I know, many filmmakers and artists travel there, in order to take snapshots of the horrors of a real-life, real-time apocalypse.
The only thing that I could see one would gain from such a visit is a broken heart. A recognition of what is at stake. An understanding of just how deep and wide humanity’s self-loathing goes.
The land loves us, it provides for us, it takes care of us, and what do we do? We suck it dry of every last breath of life, beat it, pulverize it, squeeze out its joy, destroy its sense of wonder, tear away its 1950’s panoramic smile, and shove it down the drain.
Oh, and then we let Hollywood hipsters take polaroids of it, because, you know, it’s ironic.
The Salton Sea has taught me something.
Humans need to grow up. We need to start taking healing seriously. We need to start taking forgiveness and compassion seriously. If we cannot learn to forgive ourselves and forgive others, we cannot return to our natural balance, to our true nature, a nature that is loving and compassionate as the natural world itself.
If we don’t learn how to do this, I truly believe that this entire planet will become one, big, dead Salton Sea.
A picture of desolation, death, heartbreak, loss… and a stink so strong and so heavy that, perhaps, hipster aliens will drop by just to take snapshots.
The Path of Forgiveness
For nearly eight years we’ve discussed forgiveness, and each time we’ve talked about it, my understanding and respect for it has only gotten deeper.
I believe all spiritual paths end at forgiveness, self-forgiveness, or forgiveness of another, it doesn’t matter, but we inevitably must make part of our story’s conclusion there, at that place, because that is the only way we can return to our true nature as unconditionally loving beings.
Reconciliation is fed by forgiveness.
I have learned that forgiveness is a journey, you don’t get there overnight, and although forgiveness is the right intent, we must be very careful not to ignore our true feelings.
If we are not ready to forgive it may mean we still have unrepressed anger and sadness to work through and we need to give ourselves the opportunity to heal that real pain before we take the huge step of reconciliation, which is the only way forward after someone hurt us.
Allowing yourself to process your feelings is about the bravest thing you can do, and trusting that that process of pain and grief leads one to deeper empathy and compassion naturally will allow you to trust the process of forgiveness.
Forgiveness must be true for it to work, it cannot be faked.
No spiritual lesson can be faked.
Peace From Brokenness
Forgiveness is far more complicated than we first thought, I know, but it’s end goal is simple enough: moving on.
We cannot move on from our brokenness if we have not forgiven those who hurt us. Because part of our brokenness is that we find it hard to love again.
Please: I want you to love again. Yes you, dear reader. After all the times they hurt you and betrayed you, I still want you to love again because we need your Love. We don’t need more bitter and jaded people.
We need more loving people.
Nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes.
Find it in your heart again to forgive because this world needs your heart open, not closed.
Those who did nothing wrong against you don’t deserve your coldness, nor do those who have yet been giving the chance to love you.
Nobody says you have to forgive right away, or that it be easy, but I do think that there comes a time when we are ready to forgive, and that time will be made absolutely clear to you, and you will have no doubt, all that I am asking is that, when that times come, you stand up to the plate and forgive, and let go, and move on.
How To Reconcile
If you hold anger against someone, you are due to forgive them.
If you still hurt from your encounter with someone, you are due to forgive them.
If you still are sad and depressed over a loss, you are due to forgive them.
Hate in your heart means the healing ointment of forgiveness must be soon applied.
You cannot move on to your new platform otherwise. Your new novel. Your second story. Until you forgive on this one.
Your story must end partly on the note of forgiveness.
It is a block.
The hate, the anger, the fear, the sadness you hold for them is in your system, not theirs.
As long as you hold on to that negativity it’s holding you back, not them.
Release it, please. Liberate yourself. Let us engage in a mass liberation of the spirit and forgive our tormentors, our abusers, and our oppressors for the wrongs they committed against us.
No, we should not thank them: let us still hold them accountable, but let us release their hold on us.
Let’s return to love again, return to our natural state of peace.
We deserve it.
How do we reconcile?
By finally feeling the pain they caused us, releasing it, letting god’s love flow through us yet again to heal us and, then, finally detaching ourselves from our tormentors completely and utterly.
Letting them go so that we could move on and be happy and have the courage to love again.
We should not seek to break a new heart in order to regain our own, instead, we must forgive: we must allow ourselves the pleasure of writing the first chapter of our next story without having to deny our true nature. Without having to suffocate our soul or the soul of another in order to do so, only repeating a bad history.
We humans must reconcile because we do cruel things when we deny who we are and resort to self-hatred. We take it out on others, we destroy entire lakes, and the world constantly mourns for it.
Let us set right the lakes we’ve broken, let us purify the stench that arises from our dead chest, let us live in the houses we’ve abandoned, and let us return all orphaned waters by way of our own tear ducts, until no salt or dead fish remain.