The first of these two is my favorite of the series, but possible my most favorite photo I’ve ever taken. It is a beautiful abstract painting
Pictures will both look best enlarged. This series comes from an arial shoot of the salt flats of San Francisco Bay. Had no idea of their beauty. This is coming into the Bay and the beginning of the drying beds. I have been thinking a lot lately of dimensions. I’d been listening to a scientist presentation on dimensional reality. I’d never given it any thought. It was fascinating to realize how different the world appears to an amoeba and a fly or how there are dimensions beyond the third dimension, that we live in. We have the view of an amoeba to someone else. When I flew over the salt beds it occurred to me I’d driven by these before with my friend, but had never seen them. We walk around all day thinking we see the world, when really we see just a tiny sliver of an infinite whole.
I opened up the suitcase I packed carefully before I left. On the road it had been tossed about and now irritation, which I’d packed next to fear was sticking out the side. That’s always how it happens. You think you’ve got it all together and then life tosses you around, and the next thing you know, melancholy is covered with eczema ointment, whose cap has come undone. Every journey requires a little clean up if it’s a good one. Anxiety has mixed in with anticipation and it’ll take a wet towel to get it all back in order. I’ll confess, I’m like most people. I like happy folded perfectly on top. That way, when I open up, it’s the first thing everybody sees. Sometimes, though, you open with exacerbation or dumb shock and your scrambling to get the wrinkles out and cover that glaring stain of shame. I tuck irritation back in, closer to disappointment than fear, but whatever. I’m not planning on wearing it anywhere if I can help it.
We come into life with a full kit bag. It has the entire emotional scale packed neatly within it. We can pull out any and all of it whenever we choose. We are never free of it, because that suitcase is our free will. It’s just part of the road gear. It’s what we all take with us when we step out onto Earth’s mantle. We meet a lot of people, see different things and experience a traveling circus of life, but no one else decides what we’ll put on. That is our choice. Someone can be holding a black tie hate party, but I get to decide if I’ll show up in my flower child, wild ass, love suit. You feel comfortable in that hat of indignation? That’s cool, no judgment, but I hope you don’t mind if I throw on this baseball cap with foolishness written all over it.
I take out my makeup bag filled with curiosity, intrigue and imagination and leave it in the hotel bathroom. I change into hopeful and dab a little wonderment on my neck and head out to dinner. No telling what I’ll run into, but I’ve packed a full case. I’m ready for any eventuality. Besides, what’s the worse that can happen? I have to pull on blissed out. I always look good in that.
The piece below was written by my Insight Timer friend, Roy Mason in New York. I had been working on a poem related to loneliness that just wasn’t coming together. I sent it to Roy and he flipped it, most lovelingly, on its head and produced this beautiful layered haiku. Far better than my original piece. It is an honor to post it here.
Magazines read twice,
Fridge food contains emptiness;
My heart: comfortless.
Mind wheels are spinning,
Sleep is sought but elusive.
The hours go on…
I ask: who am I?
The deafening loneliness!
Waiting for the light.
Outcast and apart,
I hear the chimes of the clock;
Then tick tock, tick tock.
Endless pacing with worry.
Five O’clock: birds sing.
Before the beetles find me
Or the fire licks my bones
I will forsake this body
That has so lovingly carried me
Long upon roads
Of hot days and cool nights
And fine ground sands
For in the end it is but a
And comes a point when this spirit
Must break free
Leaving work it started to rain. I turned, intending to go back in and take the causeway to the parking garage. Save myself a drenching, I thought. As I turned, I felt the coolness of the air that was ushering in the rain caress my cheek. Just a second, really. It lingered upon my face, before my hand touched the door handle and I stopped to turn back into it. Fresh and full of that summer rain, which now dropped in big, slow drops upon my head.
Surely, I’ll get wet walking to the car, I told myself. Hair will be a mess and you’ll ruin this leather bag, said the always cautious, always organized part of my brain. Still, I couldn’t resist the feeling. A curious intimacy of being touched by the weather, for it was a caress, of that I’m sure. A delicious taunting of a lover to come back to bed. The wind was begging me to stay. So I left the door closed and walked out into that summer rain and let myself fall in love.
It’s curious how we go about eking out a life. Not the financial part, but the creative life. The part of us expressed, even privately, that makes it all seem interesting. Aspects of us that transcend rush hour commutes, deadlines and scrubbing the kitchen floor. We plant bits of ourselves in between jobs, school plays, and the church pot luck. Oasises of fertile land amidst the rocky terrain of daily existence. Music, photography, haiku crafting, a curious penchant for coin collecting or beading seem small when looked at in the scope of our whole life. Yet, those small pieces are what feed everything about us. Our engagement with them gives us the sense we’ve climbed off the conveyor belt and left widget-land, if but for awhile. A few moments with a favored album or doodling with your child are as water to arid land. A creative nitrate for the mind that enlivens the dullest spirit and grows a beautiful life.
When I look closely at my small life I get caught up in the details of its constrictions. I see pitfalls and turn little disturbances into high drama. When I look around at the people and places I see every day, it can feel closed in and predictive. But if I look up at the expansive blueness of the sky above me, or out upon the grandeur of a cityscape I fine myself breathing more deeply. The dirt of a trail and a green canopy above invert the smallness of my life into an expansiveness that is freeing. If I draw my eye away from the close aspects and out to the wider view I don’t feel smaller. I feel I have grown bigger and become more connected to what is vast and beautiful. What is eternal dissipates my constrictions and my fear of sameness. A few moments of a night breeze through the bedroom window shows me my life is not small. Only my perspective is.
To the quiet mind all things are possible. What is a quiet mind? A quiet mind is one which nothing weighs on, nothing worries, which, free from ties and from all self-seeking, is wholly merged into the will of God and dead to its own.
If every journey started with a bridge we would know the moment we crossed over into something new. We’d know when we’d left the familiar and wandered into an unknown land. If every journey began with a bridge, midway across we could ponder which of the two sides looked better and which we would prefer. We could stand over the chasm or the river or the valley and consider calmly our progress and feel the distance we’d come. If every journey started with a bridge, there’d be that moment, before we stepped upon the first planks, where we could decide if we even wanted to cross. If every journey started with a bridge it is likely there are many paths we would never have taken and many journeys we would have missed. If every journey started with a bridge our cautious, logical mind very likely would have stayed home, more often then hiked onward.
Sometimes tripping off a blind ridge or down a dank rabbit hole is the best thing that can happen to us. No time to ponder or decide. No chance to consider all of the ramifications. We might discover that we are not these prescribed lives with planned goals and agendas. Going in through the out door or slipping on a banana peel, might open our eyes that we are so much more than habits and due dates. That we are magic and light and a creative tour de force that would’ve left Da Vinci weeping.
Falling into the unknown is what we were meant for. Not to organize it all, but to just live. Right now, with nothing but our wits.