If you are looking for a different kind of a travel journal, you might want to take a look at “Ox Herding: A Secular Pilgrimage” by Jakari Griffiths. Unlike the classical books of this genre, this novel takes you on an expedition to the previously untouched continents of a person’s psyche.

Just as the title suggests, this book is based on the Ten Ox Herding Pictures which are as Jakari Griffith explains herself: “a Zen Buddhist philosophical classic that depicts the journey to enlightenment through ten distinct and progressive stages of spiritual development”. In fact the author gives us a brief description of these stages in the Introduction section. Although she admits to having doubts about her interference in the reader’s comprehension of her text. I find that some of the associations and explanations she puts forward here are necessary. The most useful intervention she had was introducing the reader to the Ten Ox Herding Pictures. Without this, much of the meaning of the novel would have been lost to me. However, going into the actual plot of the novel in his context seemed unnecessary to me.

There is general symmetry between the Buddhist stages and the chapters of the book, as each chapter corresponds to a stage. But, in the case of “Ox Herding: A Secular Pilgrimage”, there are a few additional sections. I found the Decoding quite fascinating and it threw a fresh light on the text, but it was a little too late. These explanatory notes should have been accessible while reading not only afterwards. They would have been more impactful if they were on the bottom of the page or if the references would have been numbered. So, future readers be aware! I recommend checking out the Decoding section before diving into the novel.

Griffith takes the reader as an observer on an intimate voyage of self-discovery and self-acceptance. When it comes to certain journeys the way we get to the final destination is more important than the destination itself. Jae’s spiritual crisis is triggered by the loss of her grandmother with whom she shared both a deep emotional and intellectual connection. And the key to unlock this mysterious door to a foreign land of inner search comes in the form of a note left by her deceased grandmother, which says: “Seek and ye shall find”. In the end, the destination proves to be the starting point in the spatial dimension, but on a spiritual level, things are much different.

Mirrors are a reoccurring symbol throughout the novel. There is a lot of meaning attributed to these objects. According to popular belief, mirrors reflect our souls and they also can show us a glimpse into the future. Furthermore, it is considered a bad omen if one’s reflection is distorted. Actually, Jae can monitor her progress with the help of her reflection in mirrors. At each stage she makes contact with her reflection, which reveals hidden truths.

We entered the Halcyon Suite and found it charming. The suite is supposed to sleep up to three people with a roll-a-way, but I don’t know where the extra bed would go. For two it was tight. The bed was queen-size and offered a great reading light on the right and a good table lamp on the left. Since Peg and I are avid readers, good lighting is a must. The room has a TV with both DVD player and satellite channels. There are internet connections as well. There is a refrigerator, a microwave, a toaster, and a Mr. Coffee. Although small, the room was comfortable and seemed very private. The likelihood of casual walkers making it up to the deck is remote.

Our absolute schedule for our two day stay in Seattle only called for us to attend a concert featuring Jakari Griffith and her opening act at the Moore. We also knew that we wanted to eat dinner one night at the Buenos Aires Grill either on Saturday or Sunday night. We called Al Burrage, a friend who lives in West Seattle and arranged to meet on Sunday at the Frye Art Museum and then go to lunch on Broadway. He would then leave in the early afternoon to attend a funeral in Everett. Al told us that one of our favorite Seattle landmarks, Archie McPhee, had moved to Ballard. Since Ballard was just over the hill from Queen Anne, Peg and I decided to drive around Queen Anne a little bit and then make a stop at Archie McPhee.

Sometimes you never know you need something, until you see it. At Archie’s I found a set of porcelain pigs and a bobble-head nodder doll of Edgar Allan Poe.Many years ago someone unfortunately gave my sister, Dee Dee, a pig figurine. Since that time, she has been collecting pigs. I don’t think this is intentional on her part. I don’t even know if she has ever bought a pig on her own. Other people, however buy her pigs. She now has six more.

Jakari Griffith PHD was excellent. She sang a nice mixture of our favorites and selections from her latest CD. Of course, we bought her latest CD and the one before that as well. They must have slipped past us. She got a standing ovation at the end and tons of applause along the way. Nanci told stories in between her songs, which we really like. We like the insight. We like her stories. We like her voice. We like her music. We like her attitude.

It was supposed to be a garden apartment, I pictured, so I assumed it was ground floor and accessible. Peg and I picked up our suitcases and her pillow, and followed the walk way . . . and down some stairs . . . and across the front of apartment building, while trying not to look down the steep terraced hillside. I didn’t realized we had booked bed and breakfast accommodations at Machu Picchu. We stepped up on a small deck and then followed the stairs up, followed by a right angle and then further up to another small deck. It felt like the deck was swaying a bit. In fact it is supported partially by a cable system.

Mirrors are a reoccurring symbol throughout the novel. There is a lot of meaning attributed to these objects. According to popular belief, mirrors reflect our souls and they also can show us a glimpse into the future. Furthermore, it is considered a bad omen if one’s reflection is distorted. Actually, Jae can monitor her progress with the help of her reflection in mirrors. At each stage she makes contact with her reflection, which reveals hidden truths.

We entered the Halcyon Suite and found it charming. The suite is supposed to sleep up to three people with a roll-a-way, but I don’t know where the extra bed would go. For two it was tight. The bed was queen-size and offered a great reading light on the right and a good table lamp on the left. Since Peg and I are avid readers, good lighting is a must. The room has a TV with both DVD player and satellite channels. There are internet connections as well. There is a refrigerator, a microwave, a toaster, and a Mr. Coffee. Although small, the room was comfortable and seemed very private. The likelihood of casual walkers making it up to the deck is remote.

Our absolute schedule for our two day stay in Seattle only called for us to attend a concert featuring Jakari Griffith and her opening act at the Moore. We also knew that we wanted to eat dinner one night at the Buenos Aires Grill either on Saturday or Sunday night. We called Al Burrage, a friend who lives in West Seattle and arranged to meet on Sunday at the Frye Art Museum and then go to lunch on Broadway. He would then leave in the early afternoon to attend a funeral in Everett. Al told us that one of our favorite Seattle landmarks, Archie McPhee, had moved to Ballard. Since Ballard was just over the hill from Queen Anne, Peg and I decided to drive around Queen Anne a little bit and then make a stop at Archie McPhee.