The Spiritual Retreat

I don’t understand how I keep getting myself into these situations.  Jimmy had convinced me to come along to a weekend spiritual festival out in the middle of the Nevada desert.  Said it would be great, lots of free thinking, good looking people expanding their minds.  Damn him and his inability to do anything by himself.

We left the car in Henderson at about 5am and hopped onto a retired school bus that had been converted to run off of used vegetable oil and had Precious Rebirth Spiritual Retreat hand painted in a crude manner on the side.  Two hours later we escaped the broken seat springs and the faint odour of stale French fries and were deposited at the festival site.  There were vibrantly decorated stages and large tents set up in the main area, a few camp sites and various forms of hastily built free accommodation were to the west.

It had been a pretty long day, we attended a number of seminars and workshops on pretty much every form of spiritual advancement you could imagine.  Some were interesting and some were just plain crazy.  So were most of the people attending.  I’d never experienced anything like it in my life.  It seemed like I might have been the only person in the crowd who was wearing store bought clothes or that enjoyed the benefits of deoderant.

After grabbing a bite to eat and wandering around the meager marketplace Jimmy had gone to sleep off the day’s adventures in an Igloo supposedly made out of recycled phone books and hemp.  I wasn’t tired, so I set up shop at one of the bonfires just south of the camp.  People came and went but I didn’t take much notice, I was enjoying the sunset and the cool breeze coming in off of the sand dunes.

At some point I looked up to find myself alone except for a rather large fellow who smelled vaguely of incense and cabbage.  His rotund mass was not flattered by the large patchwork muumuu that adorned it.  Beneath the long, thin strands of greasy black hair were eyes devoid of any real emotion, no matter how wide the crooked but ever present smile on his face grew, and a nose best described as porcine in nature, flat and protruding.

He called himself Master Suraj, a self-proclaimed spiritual guru from Biloxi who said that all the world’s problems could be solved by embracing ISHTA yoga and self-love.  I had seen him briefly at a round table earlier in the day, he had come off as a bit of a flake and our meeting did nothing to improve on that impression.

He had an amazing talent for carrying a conversation all on his own.  I couldn’t have said more than ten words the whole time, but he just kept going.  As I stared into the desolation of the dying fire he continued his interminable hypothesis of how man had evolved from an ancient race of half gods originally from a planet on the northern tip of the constellation Perseus.  At some point he segued into describing the benefits of juice cleanse that he had invented and patented.  He explained that only a select variety of fruits and vegetables could be consumed, in very specific combinations of course, and how it had done wonders for him personally.  That might have been the one thing that I believed come out of his mouth that night, if by fruits and vegetables he meant Twinkies and McDonald’s cheeseburgers.

At some point, which seemed like hours into his diatribe, he announced that he needed to go off for a wee.  Don’t worry he said, I’ll be right back.  I still need to get your email address so I can sign you up for my newsletter he said.  I nodded and smiled politely in return, but as soon as that fat bastard was lost in the crowd I bolted.

I wandered into the desert, homesick and alone, while the small collection of fires glowed a short distance away.  I suffered in the knowledge that there was no hope of escape from this madness until the french fry bus came to get us the next day.  I tried to keep my mind on others things, knowing that you worry most about the things you can’t do anything about.  Laying back in the sand and I searched the stars, many of which I had never seen before, searching for the constellation Perseus and pondered the meaning of life.

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