machu picchu

Over a decade ago, Coley and I embarked on an adventure to experience Machu Picchu. When we arrived at the ancient Incan citadel, located nearly eight thousand feet above sea level, I recall seeing a dichotomy of visitors. There were those of us who had gained access to this sacred place by hiking the Incan trail and others who had arrived via planes and buses from Cusco via Aguas Callientes. We all arrived there, together, looking at the same place in different ways.

Often in life, one is rewarded for hard work. Often in life, that reward comes in the form of perspective.

That day at Machu Picchu, we were all looking at the same mountains and structures, but we differed in how we got there. I feel like maybe my journey there had given me more appreciation than I would have carried there if I’d skipped the trail - because I had more knowledge about the place and because I had worked for it.

I had climbed to nearly fourteen thousand feet at dead woman’s pass, placed prayer rocks at the peaks of mountains, climbed into the cloud forests, trekked into the alpine tundra, battled fatigue and altitude sickness, endured some pretty treacherous, and found some peace at Wiñay Huayna. It was an adventure I will never forget. Yes, the trail is very “tourist friendly,” but this was my own individual journey.

I had worked hard to get to my destination and for that reason it was more beautiful to me. I had earned it. I learned more. I felt more. I fell in love. That is how it is with the best places in life: The harder you work to get there, the more beautiful they become.

That’s how you have to experience Juniper. You can plan a quick trip to scratch the surface. She might teach you a thing or two. She’ll be beautiful. She’ll be worth the trip.

But if you work hard to really get to her, she will give you an entirely different experience. If you can find a deeper way to access her, she will reward you.

Not only will she be beautiful, but she will help you realize how beautiful the world was on your journey to get to her. She will remind you of the child inside of you that still wants to climb mountains and trees. As you connect with parts of Juniper’s mind, she’ll help you connect with your own. She’ll guide you through trails and neural pathways that you’ve never known. And, eventually, you’ll get lost in finding yourself like many of us do when we finally see the forest for the trees.

June is just better as a deep gaze than a quick glance. Just like that pile of stones can be a spiritual symbol, Juniper can raise this world up a bit higher, make us all a little bit closer to our own heavens.

You can experience her with a quick visit and you will see her, but, trust me, that’s not enough.