“Portal land,” my friend Sander jokingly remarked back in late 2017 when I told him I was moving to Portland. As it turned out, it was no joke.
Given that a portal is something you pass through as you move from one place or space to another, not a place you stay in, perhaps I should have paid closer attention to the notion of Portland as a portal when I moved here 16 months ago expecting to stay indefinitely.
You see, I’ll be leaving town on or around May 28. Likely for good.
As happened with my move from Toronto to Nova Scotia 25 years ago (and many times since), Portland turned out to be a sort of halfway house between an old chapter of my life and an as-yet unwritten new one.
Of course, I couldn’t have known that when I moved here, at least not consciously. If I had, I couldn’t have made the choices and decisions that sparked the growth (and growing pains) I have experienced here. It’s no accident, I’m sure, that I wrote my two Way of the Fool books here. And it’s no accident that I launched my time here with a “Way of the Fool” talk at the New Thought Center for Spiritual Living and capped it this past Saturday with a “Way of the Fool” class at New Renaissance Bookshop.
“If I were to choose an archetype to describe my life’s journey,” I wrote in my Acts of Surrender memoir long before there was a Way of the Fool book, “it would be the Fool, a tarot character often pictured stepping off a cliff into the unknown.”
If nothing else, my time in Portland has pushed me harder than at any other time in my life to more fully embrace that archetype…to more fully surrender to it…to more fully embody it.
Step #10 in The Way of the Fool: How to Stop Worrying About Life and Start Living It...in 12½ Super-Simple Steps! is “Embrace the Mystery.” Step #11 is “Embrace the Magic.”
I will have to embrace both the mystery and the magic when I drive out of Portland in little over a week. That’s because, in quintessential Fool-like fashion and not for the first time in my life, I will be leaving with no idea where I’m heading, where (or when) I’ll land or how I’ll finance the journey. Like the Fool, I will be leaving with my little dog, with minimal possessions (whatever fits into my Prius) and with as much faith and courage as I can muster.
In this moment, I’m leaning toward driving east along the Columbia River. But whether I follow the river for a day before veering off in another direction — perhaps toward Bend, which was a place of magic and miracle when I passed through in 1997 on a similar journey — or all the way up into Canada, I cannot now know. Step #2 in The Way of the Fool is “Be In the Moment,” so such decisions will likely come only in the moment. After all, it was an in-the-moment decision like that that brought me into the United States 22 years ago, and that turned out pretty good!
All I know for certain is that when I start the car in a few day, it will determine where I’m going. That’s the Way of the Fool.
“His may be a leap of faith,” Acts of Surrender continues, “but it’s never blind faith. For he knows that even as he trades the certainty of solid ground for the mysteries of the void, the infinite wisdom of his infinite mind will guide him forward. This knowingness frees him to surrender again and again. And again. Not without resistance and not without fear, but in the conviction that resistance is futile, fear cannot stop him and meaning is always present, even when it is invisible.”
I had lots of resistance and lots of fear in the uncertain weeks leading up to my moment of clarity a few days ago. Yet I knew I would surrender in the end. I always do.
“There will be more acts of surrender after this one,” Acts of Surrender concludes. “There always are. Each one will push me harder than the last. Each one will nudge me closer to my essential truth. Each one will require a greater leap of faith. And through each, I will continue to trust in the story. Whether it’s the story I’m writing or the story I’m living, it always knows best.”
One final note: I don’t know in this moment how or even whether I will choose to chronicle this journey. But if you hear that I’m heading your way, I hope you’ll say hi!
Fool Card Images: 1 -The classic Rider-Waite deck. 2 - The Celtic Tarot by Courtney Davis. It was the Chariot card from this sadly out-of-print deck that inspired my novel The MoonQuest. 3 - The Druid Craft Tarot by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm.