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50: The touch of warrior-travelers is very light

(The Active Side of Infinity Carlos Castaneda)

It was during the semester break. The few people that we found directed us to the music department. The campus was deserted, but what I witnessed subjectively was the most exquisite thing I have ever seen. It was a delight to my eyes. The buildings seemed to be alive with some energy of their own. What was going to be a very cursory visit to the music department turned out to be a gigantic tour of the entire campus. I fell in love with UCLA. I mentioned to don Juan that the only thing that marred my ecstasy was my girlfriend’s annoyance at my insistence on walking through the huge campus.

“What the hell could there be in here?” she yelled at me in protest. “It’s as if you have never seen a university campus in your life! You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. I think you’re just trying to impress my friend with your sensitivity!”

I wasn’t, and I vehemently told them that I was genuinely impressed by the beauty of my surroundings. I sensed so much hope in those buildings, so much promise, and yet I couldn’t express my subjective state.

“I have been in school nearly all my life,” my girlfriend said through clenched teeth, “and I’m sick and tired of it! Nobody’s going to find shit in here! All you find is guff, and they don’t even prepare you to meet your responsibilities in life.”

When I mentioned that I would like to attend school here, she became even more furious.

“Get a job!” she screamed. “Go and meet life from eight to five, and cut the crap! That’s what life is: a job from eight to five, forty hours a week! See what it does to you! Look at me-I’m super-educated now, and I’m not fit for a job.”

All I knew was that I had never seen a place so beautiful. I made a promise then that I would go to school at UCLA, no matter what, come hell or high water. My desire had everything to do with me, and yet it was not driven by the need for immediate gratification. It was more in the realm of awe.

I told don Juan that my girlfriend’s annoyance had been so jarring to me that it forced me to look at her in a different light, and that to my recollection, that was the first time ever that a commentary had aroused such a deep reaction in me. I saw facets of character in my girlfriend that I hadn’t seen before, facets that scared me stiff.

“I think I judged her terribly,” I said to don Juan. “After our visit to the campus, we drifted apart. It was as if UCLA had come between us like a wedge. I know that it’s stupid to think this way.”

“It isn’t stupid,” don Juan said. “It was a perfectly valid reaction. While you were walking on the campus, I am sure that you had a bout with intent. You intended being there, and anything that was opposed to it you had to let go.

“But don’t overdo it,” he went on. “The touch of warrior-travelers is very light, although it is cultivated. The hand of a warrior-traveler begins as a heavy, gripping, iron hand but becomes like the hand of a ghost, a hand made of gossamer. Warrior-travelers leave no marks, no tracks.”

“That’s the challenge for warrior-travelers.'”


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