120 miles traveled

The view of Chicago from the front seat

Welcome to my much anticipated journal series entitled, Manifest Destiny: “Meditating across America”. I began my adventure near the Illinois/Wisconsin border (a little hint as to where I live). Unfortunately, the heat in the Midwest has been taxing with temperatures hovering in the upper 90’s. With added humidity, the windows of my car were sweating in response to the air conditioned interior. Undeterred, I drove southeast 85 miles to greet the sweltering skyline that is Chicago. Chicago is home to 2.7 million residents. To the south sits the industrial backbone of the Midwest and to the north, effluent suburbs. As you reach the city limits of this metropolitan hub it is hard not to be awestruck: The sheer size and diversity of the skyline seems to rival that of New York and dwarfs skylines like Los Angeles. It is easy to spot the tallest building, Willis Tower (formally Sears Tower), and also the distinct shape of the John Hancock Center. Large cities can be a little overwhelming, especially if you do not call a major city your home. Still, once you enter this grand metropolis and reach the loop (lakeshore/downtown), there is an intimate quality associated with the feeling I got: Big city, small town. Millennium Park was impressive as was the museums and art galleries that dot the cityscape.

The purpose of this trip is to seek out and experience energy vortexes or special places of interest that hold higher levels of spiritual and, or, quantum energy. Throughout my trip I am going to be visiting the Great Plains, mountains, canyons, deserts and the Pacific Ocean. All of these regions hold natural beauty that can harness amazing and unique energies that surround us. From my experience, the more beautiful and unique a place, the more energy it seems to hold. This seems to be true for rivers and lakes, mountains and especially trees. There is something grand that sits just below the surface of our ordinary reality; something pure and remarkable exists underneath the controlled chaos that is our ordinary lives. Most of us are too preoccupied with marriage, family and career to pause and simply be aware of such gifts that exist, especially in nature.

Still, so many people call large cities their home; many spiritual and conscious people. How do they find peace and solace in such a busy place? One follow blogger, Susan (“Fabric”) left a very poignant comment on one of my recent journal entries. She stated that one can find peace and inspiration in a crowd through every step and every breath we take. Her point is that peace and solace is within each of us. It is inside you! This is a great point because so many people look to others for spiritual guidance and direction. People look to others when really the answers to life’s musings can be found within. We all have in us energy levels that fluctuate much like the Chicago Mercantile rises and falls with value. Being mindful of the present moment and focusing on centering your energy are all proactive steps in finding peace and happiness in life. Still, there is an exterior quality associated with energy. We can give and receive energy from others and from the environment.

Chicago definitely exhibits an energy level: It has an active, pulsing almost hurried quality to it. Even in the sanctuary of Millennium Park there are still reminders of the hustle and bustle of life: The honking of horns, the screeching of tires and this constant buzz that emanates and echoes off the concrete and metal. Still, I was able to find a quiet corner of a park and for a few moments settle into the vastness of my mind.  At night the view from the John Hancock Center is breathtaking: The millions of lights flickering like a myriad of distant souls. The energy within a city is powerful and yet chaotic. It could be all the collective people, each pulsing and humming to their own rhythm like an orchestra playing out of tune. Still, there are amazing qualities to a city such as Chicago. Just the mere act of looking up at the skyline from the streets below makes one feel small yet connected to something bigger. It is hard not to be impressed by the architecture and grandiose visions that built such an impressive city. Further, step inside one of the older, more ornate churches that dot the city. I do not consider myself a proponent of organized religion, but I do notice the higher levels of energy that flows inside older churches. Maybe it is the centuries of prayers that fuel the energy levels present in these houses of worship? The stain glass detail and architecture alone make a pre-modern church visit worthwhile.

I have decided peace, solace and inspiration can be found in cities like Chicago. People live in large cities because there is a connection with humanity. The food is superb and the sites and attractions are endless in variety. Still, there is a static, veiled existence here that would slowly drain my soul. It feels as if two days here was enough and I am ready to move on. For millions, they call Chicago their home: It is a wonderful place and there are many great elements to discover and appreciate. Still, I feel I have drawn all I can from its energetic motors.  The streets are crowded and my heart longs for the open roads where new discoveries await. Up next, the Great Plains: The States of Iowa and Nebraska are calling and so is my quest to meditate across America.

John C. Bader