Time is the fire that nips at my heels. Ride and ride faster.
Each time I trek to a far away place, I find a little piece of myself. That piece that chases after a color, smell, delectable, spoken word, gesture or ritual. The moments conjure a memory of long ago. They explain the beauty of how I and every other soul came to be as well. When I see a foreigner, I know we are shadows of one another. He, in turn, notices a stranger in a familiar land as not only admirer but long lost family. We take our hearts wherever we go.
The small plane is suspended motionless in atmosphere so vast.
I hold my breath just long enough to hear the roar of wind between propeller pulses.
I dangle just long enough to notice how tiny I am as is the machine that carries me.
Great mountains, glaciers and sky possess the forces to render me lifeless at whim.
Yet, they are giants that stand glorious in face of extinction.
The anticipation of the journey is often more exhilarating than the journey or destination itself. Behold the pure yearning for ventures into the mystic. The force of our desire holds promise to populate the hollow space within our bones with 12 million glowing stars.
Desire propels us. Sometimes Desire eludes us. When life is cut short we may be caught with or without her embrace. I can’t help but think that the pure absence of Desire is what brings great slumber closer to us. Can’t live without her. It only seems fitting she would be a lover lost in the night.
Plan and map. Roam and roam farther. To be propelled by Desire is to be alive.
Great Spirit please turn these tears into bubbles.
Spinning, floating, rainbow-colored bubbles
Please take this pain from me in a swirl of smoke
Transform it into tiny butterflies.
Pale blue dancing butterflies that know not where they go
but are carried there anyway.
You may not think this intense craving for Lay's potato chips and Prosecco could be conjured by the desert-driven thirst of West Texas. I'd maintain that the comestible combo is a perfect and symbiotic relationship. One that reflects the essence of minimalist-inspired art kids stomping the back streets of Marfa. Here, statues of vintage muscle cars stand all tattered and betwixt prickly pear and tumbleweed.
Pour yourself a glass.
Maseru, Lesotho — 1995
I was sitting in the back seat of the car. As I recall, the road was awash with gravel and the slow drive uphill made way for a cool breeze to filter through the open window. A sound began to emerge between the pops of gravel as we climbed higher. I couldn't make it out at first but clear, faint music was drifting through the atmosphere. My ear stretched to determine the source. Neither the radio nor my imagination were it. Around another bend, we climbed. Singing grew louder.
Trees and buildings parted to reveal dozens of children in the schoolyard. We drove in and eased out of the car so as not to disturb the magic before us. Their Sesotho song penetrated straight through my rib cage and into my heart. Their blue uniforms were container for such rhythm. A collective and synchronous dance functioned to expel their brilliant voices from their little bouncing bodies. Every face was dark like dusk. Every smile beamed brilliant. I must not have witnessed anything more beautiful in all my life because tears arose as if to purify my senses.
We had come to visit St Bernadette’s School for the visually impaired. Canonized in 1933, St. Bernadette became the patron saint of bodily illness. She teaches us to find healing, as well as to develop the ability to accept and endure suffering so that we may grow in spiritual awareness. My grandmother, Rosemary Boykin, was engaged in humanitarian work for the school and was eager to give a tour. How honored were we to find that the students had taken a short break from their learning to greet us.
Some of these children were born without sight. They knew little of what they lacked. Some children had seen before and somehow lost that part of their world. Images of mother, father and home remained only in their mind's eye. Some children had the support of a family and village to bring them to St. Bernadette’s school. Some had been orphaned and rescued. No matter the circumstance, these children made their way to protection, care and learning.
More than disabled, these children were healers. They healed themselves and they healed one another. They created and adopted new ways to manage in a seeing world. And, despite any challenge, they developed and expressed such innate gifts effortlessly. They were made stronger and closer by the ability to focus other senses. Alone or in choir, these children sang and danced as angels would.
Suffering pales and faith emerges. I hope that each of us might also find a way to heal ourselves, help heal one another and express our unique strengths, gifts and awareness for the illumination of community and globe. If in the face of disability, Great Spirit created this one joyous event. it can create many, many more.
Towering spires and incense. Temple bells and dancing votive flames.
'Tis not the blessed or sacred space that is required for contemplation.
Clanking of rocking, swaying boat masts. Warm breath of grassy fields.
'Tis neither foreign nor familiar place that is required for meditation.
We need not panoply and religiosity, not even a stone labyrinth leafed in gold.
'Tis any new or worn journey or even standing still that induces reverie.
Loaves, candles and marigolds;
An invocation of spirit.
Skulls of sugar and a dance macabre
Stir flight by feathered wings.
When pyramid emerges from afar,
Allow those who may transcend.
Two years ago, a specialist told me that I could never .... An elevation of 4,000 would be difficult, 6,000 pushing it beyond reason and 8,000 a risk of life. Today, I climbed the trail and steps of a recently discovered pyramid in Mexico. Cañada de la Virgen reaches 7,647 feet in elevation. Along the hike, I was met by the gods and creatures of 700 AD Mesoamerica. The feathered serpent was there to test and challenge, the smoking mirror drew tears, the jaguar, the dog as my guide to the underworld and a kind wolf by my side to survey each step. Wind blew into me as if by force of sun and moon. I made it ... I made it to the top on this day that is also the continuing celebration of Dia de los Muertos. This is the time we take to honor and celebrate the people and generations that have passed. We recognize death as something just as near as life itself. Before us we create the altar and give offerings of marigold. My lungs are open today and so must be my heart. I am here. I am still here.
A sunken, broken toy lies alone. The vast terrain of a chlorine-infused ocean serves as home. There is no place more quiet. There is no place more still. Float.
One heartbeat then another. The rise and fall of each beat and breath gives bounce between two worlds. The weightless, cold envelope is broken open for a moment. Inhale the blinding, blazing sun and giant roar of cicadas. Exhale to the depths of origin.
In a city of festivals, this is the party that hosts painted faces, blue wigs, Mer-mans of the sea; hula hoopers, drumming circles and a sequined Calliope. Happy Birthday, Eeyore, and thank you for giving Austin an occasion to let its freak flag fly.
No louder roar than that of a tumbleweed. Hipsters drawn like moths to a kerosene lamp. It takes three visits to Marfa before one can fully appreciate the quiet convergence of creative force and independent spirit.
Nestled in the sprawling and desolate land of West Texas, is a gem named Terlingua. It takes awhile to understand it. Some folks never do. In this town, the postman is your bartender. The musician is a school teacher by day. And, the few dozen residents that live here are respected for their reclusiveness and eccentricity. The high desert land is marked by ruins of the old Chisos mining company as well as shells of old, rusty cars and buses.
A steep climb to and through Finse. Flamsbana is a beautiful train trip revealing a panoramic view of the majestic Norwegian fjord landscape.
Journey by train feels to be the only means by which the whole world comes to you. Each moment's image is flashed and framed within the passenger car window. Each image is retained through pitch-black pauses through tunnels and the lull of the clickety clack and sway.
It is a rainy day and nowhere near nightfall. I can't help but imagine that, if I watch that blank screen long enough, the show will begin.
This is Ahmet. Ahmet farms a few small fields and vines deep in Pigeon Valley. He took sincere interest in our hiking route this morning. He helped us scale steep, sandy trails and squeeze through narrow rock tunnels, preaching "technique" all the while. We are steps closer to Göreme. Teşekkür ederim, Ahmet! — in Üçhisar.