June 17, 1995
We arrived in the dry heat of the high New Mexican desert a few days early for our annual trip to Espanola, where we gathered to celebrate Summer Solstice and practice Kundalini Yoga. My wife, Shakta, our nearly four-year old son, Ram Das, and I decided to go to Bandelier National Monument, a scenic state park built around the cliff dwellings of the ancestral Anasazi Indians.
To really see the caves, you have to climb 20, sometimes 40 feet up rough ladders made of hewn logs with rungs that are tied on with leather wrappings. Even at his young age, Ram Das was an eager explorer and climber. We went up the ladders with Shakta going first, him going second. I was right behind him so that if he fell back I had him covered. The trouble was that he was so small that he could fall right through the opening between rungs.
I shook the thought away and keep keen attention without apprehension. I was determined that this was his adventure. I was not going to spoil it by acting like this was not his day and time.
When we got the top, Ram Das fully explored the caves, even going out to the edges where the drops were 30-40 feet.
After a series of these climbs, we followed some paths through the valley and came to a place where there was a series of dwellings high in the cliff. These were probably 150 feet or more from the ground and were reached by a series of these ladders staggered up the cliff.
As soon as he saw these dwellings, Ram Das said, “I’m going there!” I was truly amazed to see his response. I was thrilled, and at the same time was thinking “Oh my God. This is for real!” We started up the first ladder, Ram Das climbing without hesitation up every one of the ladders moving quickly from climb to climb. I was behind him the whole way. We fully explored the caves and then climbed back down rung by rung.
We did it all. I’ll never forget that day when Ram Das’ love of climbing and exploring came busting forth without the least bit of fear. And I’m forever grateful that I could be just in step myself.