Soulful Travel: Bodega Head
Every activity in Sonoma County offers the opportunity for small pauses. Whether you’re exploring the redwoods, floating down the Russian River, visiting the coast or discovering a new trail, make sure you take the time to engage your senses and find joy.
Life opens up during these moments of mindfulness and stillness. Pausing gives us an opportunity to be inspired or see things from a different perspective. Pausing on vacation allows us to reflect and return home with a new take on life and travel. Pausing gives your body a chance to regain balance and promotes relaxation, which in turn, allows you to move forward with your next activity with intention. Pausing protects your inner peace. When you take that extra beat, you feel better, and chances are, you’ll have a more memorable vacation.
Here, we help you have that experience at Bodega Head, a special spot along the Sonoma County Coast.
The Fifth Element
The wind blows briskly in Bodega Bay — this is, after all, the rocky Sonoma Coast, not a sandy LA beach. But the wind is welcome to hearty souls who find it stimulating to feel primordial forces swirl around them and penetrate the core of their being. And this experience is available to anyone. All you need is a special frame of mind.
In the heart of historic Bodega Bay lies a crescent-shaped peninsula, with the quiet bay on one side and the pounding surf of the Pacific Ocean on the other. It’s home to a quirky assemblage of things, from seaside homes and an RV park to an equestrian trail and marine laboratory. There’s The Bodega Bay Inn and nearby Secret Gardens, a charming and secluded wedding spot. The marina is lined with boats, and across the street is one of the most popular seafood restaurants in town — the kind of place where people wait in line without complaining.
A winding road ascends to Bodega Head, the peninsula’s highest point, where a series of hiking trails provide a magnificent view of the ocean below. And it’s here, among the acres of ice plant, where the elemental power of the wind can shake you out of everyday complacency and break free a deep inner sense of what it means to be a human being in this mysterious world.
Suddenly a burst of sunlight breaks through the fog, causing the undulating sea to shimmer and stimulating your imagination. You crack a wry smile as you realize you’re in the middle of the four elements. The blowing wind is the air, the cliff upon which you stand is the earth, the Pacific Ocean is water, and the sun is a giant ball of fire in the sky.
A feeling of wonder comes over you. How seamlessly it’s all woven together!
The four elements are bound together in the tapestry of material reality, but what about your experience of it? Are not your thoughts, reflections and sensory impressions part of the tapestry as well? Your wry smile slowly fades, replaced by a furrowed brow and a sudden thirst for enlightenment. From the point of view of absolute reality, you begin to reason, is there really an unbridgeable gap between thinking subject — you, the intelligent being — and the object of its contemplation? Or is there something that binds them together at a higher level of reality?
A chill rips through you — not the wind, but the feeling that you’re on to something. OK, you surmise, our planet contains earth, water and fire on its surface, so does that mean everything is contained within air? No, that can’t be right, because Earth is a blue marble floating in the vacuum of space.
Speaking of space, you realize, isn’t there a quirky science fiction movie that just happens to be called “The Fifth Element”?
Luc Besson’s eccentric space flick “The Fifth Element” — starring Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman — was released in 1997. The following year, astrophysicists discovered that empty space is really not so empty after all, but is in fact filled by an invisible web they named dark energy.
The ancients knew this substance well, and didn’t need to invent a special camera to see it with their eyes, because they could infer its existence intuitively. In China it was called chi, in India akasha, and in Greece ether. Medieval alchemists called it the Prima Materia, the first matter from which everything in the universe was made and in which everything is contained. More recent guardians of the ancient wisdom have employed mysterious terms such as Universal Agent or Great Plastic Medium — plastic, because this invisible energy field can take on any form imposed upon it, from a star in the sky to the being who gazes upon it.
As you hike along the cliffs, you ponder this tapestry a little more. Earth’s atmosphere is made of air that is exuded by plants that survive by taking root in the earth, from which they drink water. That’s three elements right there, but don’t forget fire, because plants also survive on sunlight. Seamless doesn’t begin to describe the magical substance that binds it all together. It’s better expressed by an ancient phrase such as “The One that is All, and the All that is One.”
And at that, you stop in your tracks, for your heart has taken wing and feels like it’s soaring among the seagulls over the rocky cliffs. A kind of giddy vertigo has taken hold of you, a lucid intoxication from the golden light of the sun. For you have just experienced the “it’s-all-one-thing” feeling, and the sense of inner affirmation and joy that comes from this ultimate perception of reality.
You raise your arms above and shout, “More of that, please!”
Across the ages and in all corners of the globe, guardians of the perennial wisdom knew that knowledge of this mysterious fifth element that binds together all opposites — masculine and feminine, spirit and matter, thought and action — was key to all operations that fall under the term “magic.”
The ecstatic experience of your first understanding of the quintessence is a new starting point for everything you can now hope to achieve in life. The fifth element is the malleable medium through which you can imagine all that you want, then act upon it to make it come true. Over time, you will eventually become what you imagine yourself to be — good or bad, for the fifth element is neutral — according to a cosmic law of strict determinism, to sympathies and correspondences between the visible world and the invisible energies that operate within it.
If you can conceive it, you can do it. Yes, it’s really that simple. And this magical force will be with you, always.
Other Soulful Adventures
This trip to Bodega Head is just one of a series on soulful travel. For other experiences, visit our Soulful Travel page.
Remember the Leave No Trace Principles
Experiencing our destination through the Sonoma County Leave No Trace Seven Principles gives travelers an opportunity to make a difference. Together, we can protect and preserve this special corner of the world for generations to come. Find more info about sustainable travel in Sonoma County here.
For a list of local businesses helping promote the important message of Leave No Trace, click here.
Written by Christian Chensvold