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how can we live without doubt?
Photography by jason frahm

how can we live without doubt?

by jason frahm jason frahm
Be Spiritual | Personal Story

I stand at the base of a the peak Umantai in the high Andes knowing what is to come next will not be fun. Andreas (my shamanic guide) ushers me into a glacier lake that sits on a precipice where peak after peak paints the golden horizon. The air is thin and crisp at 17,470 feet and bites at you when the Sun ducks behind the silver-lined, fluffy clouds.

I am told to stand naked in the icy lagoon below a jagged boulder that sneaks out several feet from the bank. I huddle near the boulder anxiously waiting for the team of three shamans to get their sh** together for the ceremony... I'm edgy and ready for this initiation to be done (not really the attitude to have in this important moment)

Somehow, I feel in the dark while it’s the middle of the day. I intend peace, but the icy feeling that rises through my body feels like mini switchblade slashes deep below the epidermal layer of my skin. I knew these were serious rights of passage in the pre-Incan tradition I was to receive so I prayed to calm. 

I deepened my breath from the shallow pant that spat out of my lungs and called in my support system of love, light, and oneness. It was my will and grace standing tall against the fury of the elements and the unknown of what pain was to come. 

The shamans whisked over quickly, chanting and rattling in a plume of incense. Andreas called me forth with fierceness and clarity. He dumped gallons of glacier water over my head and shoulders to clear me of the chatter between my ears. 

I tried to breathe and chase back the desire to leap out of the unforgiving waters. There was no choice for me but to stay, yet could I remain centered while in the midst of the onslaught?

Andreas whipped me with eucalyptus branches and pounded my head with a shamanic altar full of magical stones called kuyas. My left knee buckled. I didn’t know how much longer my legs would hold. Suddenly, a warmth shot through me, a geyser of determination to remain steadfast. The transmission of power continued!

Seconds, or minutes later, I’m not sure… I was beckoned to the shore. The youngest of the three rushed over and wrapped me with four alpaca ponchos. Incense was shoved underneath the mound of me. 

Andreas commanded me to absorb the incense for balance and integration. I inhaled the clouds of smoke as best I could.

Andreas whispered in my frozen ear, “No dudar, no dudar, no dudar amigo.”

A fountain of fury shot from my belly. How dare he assume I was doubting!  Here I am thousands of miles from home, in lands I little know, with my life in the hands of men half my size, and a mountain language I can’t decipher, yet here I am standing tall. Well, kind of in this heap of ponchos.

My ego felt brave and was convinced I did not doubt (dudar). This felt like the final straw to a long line of tests I was through with. I was done and could not wait to get back home.

The next day we were back in the arms of civilization, Cusco, the metropolis of the Andean mountains. I flew to Lima where I had seven hours before my next flight. My anger softened, yet my resolve to end my apprenticeship with Andreas was clear. He did not know how clear I was!

Three hours before my flight I get in line a bit nervous. I did not have such good luck on the way out from the states. I was gifted a Delta buddy pass ticket which put me near the end of the line of standbys on the one Delta flight a day out of Lima. 

On my trip out it took me all day to get from LA to Atlanta, I missed my flight to Lima, had to stay the night in Atlanta with $150 for a hotel room, then added another $200 for a new flight to Cusco. This cut out all of my savings with this freaking buddy pass, minus the convenience.

In line for my return I worried that I was bound for the same struggle as before? Once I was tagged as a standby, I was shuffled to another line.

I stood in front of the desk attendant and nervously asked, “So, how’s it looking for me today?” 

I had to get home! You know what it’s like. You’ve been beaten up by the elements, no bed for a week, branded with everything you don’t want to know about yourself, then thrashed by three shaman with eucalyptus branches! The last thing I could stand is being stranded in the pits of Lima for days.

The attendant fingered her computer keys with rapid speed, “Well, we have a seat for you, but we’re going to wait to check you in since you have luggage. Come back in two hours and I’ll let you know if we are over our weight capacity or not since we’re freighting a lot today.”

My heart leapt when I heard there were seats and crashed just as quickly to the impending answer. I positioned in a chair with the ticket counter in eyes view. 

The minutes crept by. My mind processed schemes to assure getting on the flight that would take me home to my comfortable bed and my favorite foods.  “I could leave my bag with my friends mom in Lima, I could check it at the storage place, call her and pay her for her troubles later. I could buy a return ticket home.  Hmmmmm. How many days could I be stuck here? I’ve gotta hit the pavement running tomorrow.  What if I asked another passenger who has a real ticket to check my bag? There’s gotta be a way.”

A light bulb clicked inside.  Jason, “No dudar, no dudar, no dudar amigo!”

Andreas was right. I was drenched in doubt and planning escape routes with something as simple as waiting for a ticket on a buddy pass. I’ve must let go of the excess luggage in my head. How many other crevices of doubt reside within me I wondered?

This was my opportunity to shift the embedded groove of doubt within me. For the next hour I envisioned the steps of getting on that plane, having the perfect seat and returning home with ease and grace with plenty of time before my planned workshop.

Every time my thoughts went to something other than success, I reconfigured the vision to ease and grace. I was sure to be on this Delta flight. 

Thirty minutes left, my eyes traveled the shiny tiled airport floor where a Japanese man strutted towards the Delta line. He was carrying a sign like many do when they have an entourage. My eyes bulge as I take in the line of Japanese tourists. The old couples were not too much weight, but my goodness, each one rolled two suitcases that were larger than them!

The doubts rushed in to test me!  I was almost overcome with the surety of failure. 

I heard Andreas again reminding me, “Do not doubt, do not doubt, do not doubt my friend.”

I steadfastly remained with my vision of boarding that flight against the greatest odds, where a nearly over-weight flight was ushering in 50 Japanese tourists with their 100 monster bags.

The two hours were up. I rushed to my ticket agent with warmth and trust in my eyes.  She already had my ticket ready for me. The amazing ticket agent tacked my pack with the LA destination ticket. I was going home!

Each step from there was a majestic dance with a new power discovered within me. I may not always get what I want, yet I can trust in the power that is within me and everywhere.  This time the doors opened widely to me. I smiled to the final attendant before I boarded the 747.

“Thank you”, I said to each person with true gratitude!

I had an aisle seat and it looked like there was no one next to me, 33D! I loved that seat like no other! 

Just as I was preparing to nestle in I felt a tap on my shoulder as a woman butchered my last name, “Mr. Frahamm, Mr. Frahamm, could you come with me?” 

No way, I’m on the flight. How could this happen now?  “But...”, I fumbled with my words.

The stewardess stiffly smiled, “This way please Mr. Frahamm.” 

I gathered my veggie sandwich, Bose headphones, iPod, beeswax earplugs, eye cover, black toe socks, crescent spongy airplane pillow, and my overhead luggage, then meekly scuffed forward to the front of the plane. A flash to once more trust in the journey and myself boosted me several inches as I continued down the aisle. So be it I thought. 

We arrived to the front, but the airplane door was closing. The last attendant that I graciously thanked stood on the other side and winked at me as the door sealed. 

I looked to the stewardess who smiled and opened up her hand, “1A Mr. Frahamm”. 

Somehow-someway in queue I went from being considered collateral cargo to the A-list in first class. How sweetly ironic!

I can’t say that when you hold your highest vision for yourself and others that it will usher you to first class. The fruits become secondary. What becomes even more important and empowering is our trust in the journey that unfolds as well as in ourselves. 

Who would you rather spend time with the one who lovingly holds the highest vision for you and all involved or the one who always just gets what he or she wants?

This story is a simple invitation to observe our thoughts. Our minds run rampant and often feed the negative stories that roll through our heads. Notice when you have a situation where you have an attachment to the outcome and no one yet knows what will happen. Where does your mind travel? 

Do your thoughts repeat the mantra of negativity or prepare to counter the perceived negative outcome with a reaction? 

Do your thoughts naturally meander in the garden of the desired outcome or even fuel a higher possibility? Where’s your default?

What would it take for you to live in "trusting what is"?

To live in harmony with Self and the Universe we must hold the vision of the highest possibility for all involved and even acknowledge that we do not know what’s best for anyone including ourselves. Then we reside in the energy of “be as it may ~ whatever comes to pass, is divinely perfect.”

This is true harmony. This is true peace!