It seems that every time I research the word Kala I find some new meaning, each time it feels serendipitously aligned with my goals and aspirations. So what does it mean? To me? Why did I choose this name for a project, vaguely defined, but tied into nearly everything I do?
The truth is, it's the name of a Trevor Hall album. It's an album that I hold very close to my heart, as I do with all of Trevor's music. Beyond anything I am able to articulate, his music touches the deepest parts of my soul. When I first heard his music, I thought it was terrible. It seemed cheesy, like he was trying too hard and inauthentic. White dude with dreads, playing acoustic guitar, singing about peace and love and the world coming together in unity?! Come on man, get real. Then, in my own cheesy turn of events, I enrolled in a yoga teacher training. I was injured and had decided to take six months off from climbing. I was terrified, restless, and desperate for anything to fill my time. I had practiced yoga, albeit on and off, since I was in high school. I never thought I would have the time or desire to commit to a teacher training, but it was a bit of a distant dream. The thought of being a yoga teacher was something that sounded interesting but that I felt I would probably never get around to doing. On a whim, I attended an informational session at a studio I had been to a few times and that was near my house in Burlington, VT. It turned out their program would work perfectly with my schedule. I signed up. I became immersed and set out on a nine month journey that was going to change my life in ways I never could have imagined. In fact, that nine month period over which the training took place, while a journey in itself, was merely the start of a much longer and much more arduous journey that is still playing out.
Early on in the training, I heard Trevor's song Green Mountain State in a class. It filled me with goosebumps. It filled me with peace. It nearly made me cry. I didn't know why. When I found out the song was named for and written about the state that was my home, I fell in love with it that much more. During the nine months that followed, I listed to his Chapter of the Forest album constantly. His music became the soundtrack for my spiritual journey. If you haven't heard it, listen to it.
As my teacher training program progressed, I realized that I was transforming. As a man, as a human being, I was experiencing a new sense of openness and awakening. I was falling in love with everything and everyone. My wife and I were preparing to go on the trip of a lifetime, throwing caution to the wind and quitting our jobs to travel the country. I told you, this was my own cheesy turn of events. I became a yoga teacher, quit my job as an accountant, and moved into a van to live on the road for a while. Can it be any more cliche? Around that time, Trevor released his Kala album. It is an album focused on the themes of time, forgiveness, and healing. Which, at the time, I figured were all things I had pretty dialed. No need for healing, or forgiveness. I was drunk off the post teacher training love fest high. I had ultimate freedom. Except, I didn't. Below the surface, my marriage was falling apart. We tried. We really did. Uprooting our lives to live out of a van delivered the final blow. TKO. Dealing with the stresses of trying to settle back into the old routine of steady paychecks and adult responsibilities, the very things that, at that time, my wife wanted more than anything and I wanted more than anything to avoid, pushed all the buried issues straight to the surface. Our values had shifted. We wanted different things out of life. We had spent the summer living off of her money. She was tired of it and I wanted more. After a few months of trying to rebuild what we once had, it was clear to both of us that some big things had shifted and there was no going back. Neither of us were able to live with that reality.
It was then that Kala truly became my companion. The album both soothed my soul and brought tears to my eyes. The process of healing and forgiveness is yet ongoing. It is purifying, but painful. Liberating, yet captivating. The end of our relationship also marked the beginning of an entirely new chapter in my life. I gave up my old career for good and committed to a new way of life, working my way toward my dreams and goals. By following my passions so fully, and feeling truly free to do so for the first time in my life, I was able to keep my mind off of the pain and suffering I still held deep within. One day, it just popped into my head. Kala Mountain Guides. I liked the sound of it, and it had deep personal meaning. I also knew that I wanted to be more than just a mountain guide. Some how, some way, I wanted to tie together all of the things I had learned through my practice of yoga, my experiences guiding in the mountains, and having spent nearly a decade working in the corporate world. This vision is still developing, but I have faith that is going to all fall into place. So I chose to call this Kala Mountain Adventures.
The mountains are the canvas and the flame. They inspire and form the basis of nearly everything I do in this life. Adventure is a mindset that I strive to carry with me in every action. Kala... so what does Kala actually mean? In Sanskrit, it represents the idea of time. It can be thought of as patience, or an acceptance of time as never ending and continual. In Hawaiian, Kala can be translated as both the Sun, as well as the idea of unburdening and release. Within the seven Hawaiian principles of Huna, Kala is the idea that there are no limits and that everything is possible. No limits in the sense that everything in the universe is connected and, thus, there are no actual limits or boundaries between all things. Also no limits in the sense that whatever we perceive to be limits on what we can achieve is merely a construct in our own minds. Anything is possible. To me, with all of these beautiful translations in mind, Kala represents the universal process; the journey we are all apart of, and within which everything is possible and all things are connected.
As a guide, as a teacher, Kala represents a philosophy that instructs how and why I do whatever it is I do. In the mountains, adopting a love for the journey, rather than a summit or destination, not only keeps us safer... it enriches our experience. It is a lesson that can be carried into the rest of our lives. My settling into Kala and accepting time for what it is; learning from it, appreciating it, rather than fighting it, we can find the freedom to live out our true purpose. But it takes practice, and we often learn most from our toughest moments. At both our most trying moments as well as our most joyful, my hope is that we can all hold a little more Kala in our perspective.