It has been almost one year since a journey with my nephew into the Grand Canyon spurred something deep within to cause a shift that would manifest into things I never thought would happen in my life. The message I received at Plateau Point back then was to love, unconditionally and with full trust. The trust that was called for was for me to let go and let God. But that was only half of the equation. Little did I know that I also had to trust myself just as much as the Creator. It was an old reminder of a personal truth that consistently rang through the harder times of my life. i.e. - God helps those who helps themselves. It's not a cliché, and I can attest to the fact that I have never been let down when I decided to pick myself up out of whatever mess I got myself into. But the message last year wasn't about correcting a wrong as much as it was a chance to evolve to the next level of my own consciousness.

One earth revolution around the sun, and back I was in the canyon. This time I was joined by my teenage son. He often asked when he would be able to go with me on the arduous hike a vertical half-mile down and a switchbacked six and a half miles back up. Last weekend was that weekend. It was a rite of passage of sorts. I worried about my own ability to carry him out, piggyback style, in case his legs gave out or his will exhausted. At the very least, I had to make sure I had enough room on my credit cards for a helicopter rescue. But the air of trust was strong with me when we ventured from the south rim inwards, and doubt was far from my mind.

"True realization can come with the understanding that there is no beginning or end. That is an earthbound illusion. There is only existence." @keithgonzalez (Twitter), August 21, 2016

Life on earth is real, and in terms of the bodily senses, there is nothing more to know. This is the essence of the natural sciences that aims to explain the mysteries of life on earth. And for all the research in science, not one study has been able to explain the essence of vitality, i.e. the thing that makes us tick - our life force.

Where does it come from, and where does it go? The answer to this question is: everywhere, nowhere and all points in between. We breathe in a three-dimensional world and our senses are constantly reinforcing that this the plane of existence that needs the most attention. But once we get past the basic training of survival, like "don't walk into traffic" and "don't drink toilet bowl cleaner", then the mind is free to open up to higher states of consciousness. It's at this point that we begin to feel that there is something more, and the quest into spirituality begins.

Pain is a sore subject to write about. There are so many variations of it, making it hard to distinguish one type of suffering from another. The categories of pain are numerous and generally easy to identify. There's physical pain, emotional pain, acute pain and chronic pain. Pain ranges from the surface to deep within the soul, but all kinds have one thing in common. There is one immediate goal to those who are suffering from pain. That is the motivation to remove oneself from the agony.

The pain I have today is of the self-inflicted physical type. Recently I chose to repair a lost front tooth from 35 years ago through the process of an implant, and in doing so I had to undergo bone rebuilding though grafting. Easy enough, or so I thought. Add a little bone to what is already there and let my body assimilate the graft to claim it as its own. Then after four to six months, if all goes well the periodontist can drill back into my jaw bone to install a mounted implant for the final phase, the crown. I've always wanted a crown, but somehow this isn't what I had in mind lol.

A friend at work asked me a question after she saw my video of Bear Mountain, "Have you always enjoyed hiking to gain spiritual clarity?"

The answer would be a resounding "Oh, my Lord, yes".

My daily life is filled with a comfortable and familiar repetition. Things are asked of me, and I respond. My mind swirls on the cares of the day, from child care to computer issues and everything in between. These are all my earthly chores, and I love to tend to them. But every so often comes that moment when I need to unplug and step away from the day-to-day to gain perspective of what is really important. I need to check in to see if I'm living the life of my own design.

The best way this is accomplished is to get out of the car with as little as I need on my back, and start walking. The hike invariably begins with my mind still carrying on about my chores. "When do I have to clean the bird cage? Why did that last backup fail? How am I doing with my plan for retirement?" With each step into nature, my mind is slowly pulled away from these things as my eyes start to see what is around in my present moment. It isn't long before I start thinking on the essence of my existence, my connection to the power that made this beautiful planet, and how my endless spirit is just taking a journey of lessons on this planet in this particular body.