Judging by the row of trees, I knew we were getting near the river. We turned left into a dusty parking lot. A tired Airstream trailer was parked near the water. Several cars were also parked nearby. There was no one in sight, and I wondered what the hell we were doing here.
“Park there,” Melody ordered. I parked. “Now take off your clothes.”
“Just strip,” she responded as she removed her own clothes. “I want you to meet someone.”
We stuffed the clothes into my saddlebags, she grabbed her satchel, and we were off.
We pranced like pixies down a narrow, twisting trail through house-sized boulders and leafy trees. I was praying we wouldn’t come across any Sunday school kids.
“Who are we visiting?” I asked.
“He’s a religious studies professor at my school. We call him the Bhagwan. Keep going!”
The trail dipped down towards water level and I could see the river. Adjacent to it was a dry wash surrounded by more boulders – no doubt a turbulent pool when the snows melted and turned the river into a raging flood. As we got closer, a dozen naked, college-age kids could be seen sitting cross-legged in a semicircle facing a gangly guy about twice their age. He had long, graying yellow hair and a scraggly beard.
No one looked up at us as we approached, though they must have heard us coming.
Melody took my hand, led me down amongst the group, laid out a blanket from her satchel, and sat us down cross-legged. She closed her eyes and started to hum in a monotone along with the others. I was ignored and on my own.
What do I do now?
Why am I sitting naked on a blanket in the dirt under the hot sun with a bunch of people I don’t know facing a guy I don’t trust? Will this lead to an ugly scene like Jonestown?
Do I have to hum?
The sun is going to fry me.
I’ll get sand in my crotch.
When are we going to get something to eat or drink?
Is this Bhagwan guy ever going to say anything?
Why didn’t he acknowledge our arrival?
Damn, the flies are driving me crazy.
The Bhagwan uttered, “Thoughts are like flies; they only bother us if we pay attention to them; better to be here now.”
Did he know what I was thinking?
Be Here Now is a book by Richard Alpert, alias Baba Ram Dass. I’d read it many times in college. Was he…wait a minute. He sort of looks like that lanky, blond guy with the beads in one of the photos. My mind was racing.Be Here Now by Ram Dass, book cover.
Header image courtesy of Pixabay.com/juuucy.