About Facing Sunset

Facing Sunset is a rare occassion of pure inspiration. An epiphany.

A dark winter morning, some members of my family and me parted to a little village, perched in the mountains over the mediterranean coast. We had planned to pass a nice day strolling around the narrow, steep town streets and have lunch in a cozy restaurant.

The day turned to be, at least for me, a nightmare. Unresolved issues bittered the afterlunch. Careless comments showed little mercy and lack of empathy. Malevolent remarks from very close relatives reopened not-so-well healed wounds from the past.

The contrast between the beautiful surroundings, the nice meal and the broken relationships was painfully blatant.

Had I been prone to crying, I would have finished the day drowned in tears. Sadly, as an adult, I have lost that privilege I once had as I child. I rarely cry. My music does it for me.

The glooming sensation of a lost chance to be happy weighed like a ton of bricks on my shoulders. Life felt more like a burden than anything else. A day not just lost, but unhopefully disgraced. The uneasy feeling of time passing by without any valuable meaning crept in my soul.

I was immersed in my thoughts when the clouds opened and the most magnificent sunset appeared in front of my eyes, as if the gods wanted to comfort me in the middle of my despair.

At the same time, the first chords of Facing Sunset sounded clear and distinctly in my mind.

Life, at least mine, is full of paradoxes. Like the lotus flower, beauty can rise and blossom from the mud.

Why “A Path With A Heart”?

Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.

This question is one that only a very old man asks. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.

Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.

Carlos CastaƱeda, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, University of California Press, 1969