The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC):
amidst the angels of this spiritual, wilderness equipment organization
   
     The following excerpt is from
IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas, "The Kerouac of the new millennium." (FW)
    If you must toil, a non-profit Co-op is as good a place as any to hang your hat. For a cooperative mandate instantly removes all the pernicious tricks, false smiles, and histrionic courtesies which are part and parcel of every purchase and interaction in the world of profit.
      This particular Co-op specialized in, as I said, wilderness gear. Specifically hiking and camping supplies, tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, boots, rock-climbing equipment, kayaks, canoes, telemark skis, and cycling gear. It was an adult's toy store, if nothing more. And, to be sure, there was a lot more. For it was under the hallowed roof of this collective that I would find something far greater than a mere livelihood, or a niche for myself outside of the tiresome round of useless toil and fruitless labor so common in our day. 
     For it was here, beyond my wildest expectations, that I would meet my brothers and sisters on the Tree of Life ; here that I would learn the skills necessary to set me free amidst the forest and the sea; here that my soul would grow from the dark unconscious seed it was, into a plant as yet unheard of, and I would begin to see some of the secret ways of the one great being flowing through and all around us, and I would learn to dissolve and merge into this being, and I would come to see and know the world from the center of its happenings, like the genus loci of old, whose ubiquitous spirit comes to encompass all and everyone, infiltrates the dreams and psyches of every soul around, quickens all, and vivifies all into the one life of which we are all a part.
     Never have I found in a single organization like the Co-op such a varied and eclectic array of black sheep, dark horses, white elephants, renegades, mavericks, outcasts, and free spirits. The building was a continually changing cast of eccentrics, artists, writers, pioneers, explorers, adventurers, political refugees, wanderers, scholars, nature lovers, partiers, drunks, druggies, nymphomaniacs, dancers, alpinists, mountain-bike racers, river-rafting guides, white-water and sea kayaking guides, mountaineering guides- both men and women alike- mystics, angels, craftsmen, bush women, druids, gypsies, hedonists, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, dykes, inventors, dropouts, outcasts, and all the rest of life's improbable ones, mixing together in a Pandora's box of work and play and every event in between.
     It was as if this forum had been constructed specifically for these individuals, iconoclasts, and wayfarers to have a sublime convention of similar spirits, brought together to gather and commune with their brethren, under one roof, once and for all.
     I could write volumes on each individual from the Co-op who crossed my path, entered my life, and changed the inner sanctum of my being forever, and barely would I scratch the surface of the lives and destinies of these unique and unheard of individuals who were drawn together for a while to grow, and learn, and heal each other. So many hearts, so many minds, so many diverse fragments of the infinite whole- it is enough to drive me into a stupor at the slightest thought of the wonder and implausibility of the remarkable sea of mankind into which I found myself gleefully bobbing about....
     So many of them. So many people. It boggles me to consider. The wilderness athletics of the group alone is enough to exasperate me. There were extreme rock-climbers who headed south every autumn and spring to climb in the American desert, or to scale the granite walls of Yosemite; there were professional mountain-bikers of national acclaim, and others who were simply unknown experts, tackling the most arduous and precipitous trails of Vancouver's infamous north shore mountains; there were white-water kayakers running class five rapids, canoeists engaged in season-long expeditions which would impress the voyageurs of old; others who would cross countries on their bicycles, or ski the steepest couloirs from Washington State to Alaska; and there were world-class alpinists ascending  peaks in the Andes, Hindu Kush, and Himalayas. The skill and dedication of these people to their chosen activities was rivaled only by the forgotten yogis, locked away in caves and standing on their heads reciting the Bhagavad-Gita upside down for decades on end. ...


Jack Haas is a wilderness explorer, world traveler, and independent researcher and writer. He is the author of four highly acclaimed books:
THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, ROOTS AND WINGS: adventures of a spirit on earth, THE DREAM OF BEING: aphorisms, ideograms, and aislings, and IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey.
To see more about IN, AND OF, click on the image


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