I Land I Know

Hello.
“Island Time”, once again.

It’s luscious, it’s delicious, it’s a place to slip the senses into the tissues of time.

There are certain Fragrant Wishes that we water our pores with: Late Afternoon August Sun, the smell of seaweed; the gentle clamor of a peaceful evening tide; distant gulls, ferry horns a million miles wide in foggy blue forever.

Sun is sweet on the skin.  We are onions and we peel away our layers as the bright orb in blessed Blue Blanket bathes our Solar Plexus once again in Dusty Gold, Shimmering Velvet of the Moment.   Ocean winds carry delights.  Dead crabs and live seaweed are all part of the Perfume. We bathe in the gentle quiet of the lapping waves.  Boats with no names bob at anchor.  Everything – every little thing – in creation’s core is happy and content at this very moment.

We listen and talk to the Stones.  They are the Old Gentlemen of the Harbor.  They were there long, long, long before any of our famous Roman Chariots graced the streets.  Timeless things, solid and sturdy.  You rest upon them; they tell no lies.  Change comes slowly.  Rough edges are pounded clean by patient oceans in the twinkling of a million-year day.  We love and caress their boundaries, their orifices, their curves.

We have a hard time remembering Christmas; these Rocks remember Creation.  Something about the Space-They-Occupy: the Tableau of Creation’s Elements.  The meeting-place of Land, Sand, Water, Sky & Sun.  It’s all there.  We’re made of all that stuff.  The elements outside of us, are also the elements inside of us.  Do we know now why people love the Beach?  Worship the Sun?  Anoint themselves in Waves?

It is a re-union with the Lost Minerals of Bones, of Blood, of Breath. Interesting.  Mandatory.

We seek Balance.  In everything we are; in everything we do.  But – as it stands – we are precariously unbalanced.  People, neighbors, lovers, societies, nations, planets.   We stand poised for war, not soaked in peace.  We stand separate, disconnected, strangers to our brothers – a land of marginalized hobo’s.  Transient Vandals.  Gypsies with no violin.

And who will undo this anesthesia of the soul?  This forgetfulness of the very purpose, the seed, the core, the essence: of human life.  Who will remember what it is to be human – underneath the layers of cement, the obligation, the mandatory and mundane cruelty of the norm.  Who will dare to live, to breathe life, to dance and celebrate Certainty … in the midst of the Ugly Shopping Malls of day-to-day living?

We are held in the Arms of Something Vast and Protective.  Something we postulate and theorize about and “believe in”.   This is not our neighbor, this is not our dog, this is not Friday Night at the Movies, this is the crux of who we are and what breathes us on the Inside.  This is to be Known, not to be Hoped-For.

This is the helping hand of the Divine, clear point of awareness, Marching Drum of the Dance Going Home.

This Vast Stone, Giant Hand, Wholesome Heart, Melting Sun, Not-Too-Distant-Star … is what Rumi talked about when he said this:

” I will set you on my breath, so you will become my life”.

 

 

 

 

An Old Rose ~ Like Me …

Every day, Life brings us Small Things to celebrate.

These are the things that save us.  Uplift us.  Remind us.  Nurture and Nourish us.

These small things are not small – indeed – but are truly significant pieces of the Puzzle of Life.  Significant, in that they have the capability to pull us into the magic of NOW.  This is the Kingdom that small children inhabit.  This is the origin of Play, Mystery, Delight, Dance and all spontaneity.  This is the quality that we – as adults – long for, strive for, emulate, imitate, and gravitate ~ towards.

It’s simply a small fragmented mirror, mirroring a small, fragmented piece of who we truly are.

Babies and Buds amidst Elderly and DyingToday, I wandered into Queens Park, after a day of difficulties, compromises, bad news and severe struggles.  Queens Park – one of the redeeming aspects of Life in New Westminster – has a beautiful little Rose Garden.  Bless the foresight of the City Council, that preserves some quality places for the senses of the Weary to Unwind and resuscitate.

Old Roses.

I have seen these Roses through only a few glimpses of their fleeting Life Cycle.  (“It seems just yesterday that … “).  We went there only a few mornings ago, to do some improv dance & video work among these flaming wonders.  It was a mixed morning: the magic of fresh rain on the flowers, but a grand-central-station of gardeners, earth-moving equipment and curious tourists, sniffing and inspecting every nook.  Already, the roses, bathed in teardrops, were beginning to show their mortality.

Red Family 4 youAnd now, this was evening.  A tentative summer’s evening in a Tentative Summer, period.  The Failing Light of July’s uncertain sky, illuminating these Gracious Old Ladies with a soft – sometimes unworldly – cast.

We need to say something about Roses here, in that Roses are uniquely Roses: nothing else comes close, nothing else matches, nothing can compare, all else in the Flower Kingdom is a mere squeak, alongside this noble Orchestra of Grace and Elegance.

Old Ladies, Queens, Queen Mothers, Sages, Crones, Witches, Whores, Ladies of the Night, the Day, the Evening – and all hours in between.  These flowers are the undiluted voice of the Divine, laughing, tempting, seducing, healing, calming: both calling and answering the unspoken longings of our deepest hearts.

And so we age.

Our spots also appear.  Our leaves curl in places that are straight.  Freckles, dimples, warts, crinkles wrinkles and wrappers: all seem a noble, unpretentious part of the gallant display of these Girls-Who-Never-Went-Astray, these denizens of the Courtyard of Kings.  These valiant musicians of the Unspoken Song; they were right all along.  Beauty sees itself in the mirror and it sees perfection and imperfection walking side-by-side.  The child in the Grandmother’s hand, dancing wildly through the disappearing land.

Big Yellow Birds of the Open Sky

And so, it’s amazing how time flies.  You just planted them Yesterday.

Buds in the Morning.

Blooming at Noon.

Fragrance in the dusk.

And the next day: Age looks itself in the mirror, surprised, sad, nostalgic, reflective, sober.

We’re stopped dead in our tracks: the Reality Check of Time.  Mortality.  The Ticking Clock.  All the things we Should Have Done, Could Have Done, and ‘will do’.  The pleadings of Tomorrow, the Begging Dogs of Yesterday.  The whining uncertainty of the most certain thing you hold in your hand: the breath of life, sustaining you in the moment.  Your tricks are over;  your hiding places are gone.  You are back in the uncomfortable, but oh-so-familiar cradle of this moment of NOW.

AND you feel strangely at Peace.  Old Rose that you are.

later Day Illuminates Those who stay ...

Elegance.

Cheap.

There is no admission fee.  Who can charge for the sight, sound and smell that is a Gift from the Unseen Hand?

Beauty.  You can’t spell it, but you can Smell it.  Your tired and feeble mind shuts up at last, because it has no say in this world of sensuous delight.  You want to go to bed with these Total Strangers, you want to Drink, eat this Madness. sink into and Drown in some reservoir of forgotten delight, this Naughty and Lost Child inside, this Insecure Adult, wrapped in his profound and pointless mysteries of Money, Privilege and Fame.

Roses are Red, Why are U Blue?And the Petals fall like Rain.

And no, they will not wait.  Tomorrow morning, they will be gone.  Dead, buried.  The Gardener’s knife will mid-wife another birth, another life, and the Garden will go on, long after you Stop.   Pick up a few petals, note the angle of the Moon.  The deep Emerald of the lawns, the singing of the Sprinklers, the Empty beds, promising Future Lovers their lost Eternities.

All this, from a few Old Roses.

Oh, what we know … and what we have Forgotten.

 

And so, Life Goes On.

Day at at time. Breath at at time.  Flower at a time. One Petal Falls.  No one notices, no one cares.  Drowning in Rain, drowning in Tears.  No one really knows us; these visitors, these stodgy tourists – they get so close and yet they are so far away.

They capture us with their cameras, and yet, they live in Prisons Themselves.

Who are these Humans, these passing Thieves?

They can explain the color content of a 24-bit RGB pixel, yet, they can’t explain what they feel …

when they see an Old Rose …

an Old Rose Like Me.

 

Morning Glories & Solitude Stories

Context surfaces from the depths of the moment we’re in, and paints its amazing colors on the interior and exterior of Life’s Landscapes. Today is a day of sun; and sun is a sought-after and coveted element of life in the Pacific Northwest. When it comes, we must respond.Burnt Sienna Context - Simple & Solitary

There’s something lovely about breathing in the ambiance of the current moments of life, as they pass.  Today was another walk back through the Queen’s Park neighborhood – a stately of collection of heritage homes and gardens, in what is one of British Columbia’s oldest, historic communities.

What struck me on this walk was the character of individual flowers in the milieu of light and shade.  Those of us who reflect sometimes on the nature of life witness a synchronicity in the panoramas of the natural world around us.  Flowers have their unique personalities: they’re patient beings.   They stay where they’re rooted, unfold sweetly at their own perfect pacing, and add color, life and beauty to the most mundane of environments.

Purple Poppies Peeked and Squeaked in DelightSome flowers are “social beings” – they grow in clusters – large, noisy families and clan.  Others are more solitary, quiet, almost meditative.  I’ve been noticing tulips lately.  Whether alone, or amongst others, they seem somewhat self-absorbed.  Quiet.  “Prayerful” almost.   Their petals are folded up in the most unique, serene manner.  They come undone in their own time, but always, inevitably, before the onslaught of summer.

So, these flowers, in their unique and humble occupation of a small artistic patch of time and space, speak to me of the Human Journey.  I am one who craves and understands and plunges into periods of solitude in my own journey.  Solitude – in order to work – needs proper context both inward and outward, and when this balance is arrived at, solitude becomes a gift, a sweetness, an essential recipe to understanding the architecture of life.

Fiddle-Heads and Ferns, the Changes and Tossing of Turns ...So: beauty in solitude.  The flowers outdoors speak to the flowers indoors.  What elegant, unassuming and glorious creatures they are. (And yes, King Solomon, in all his glory … couldn’t hold a match to these Significant, unnamed actors on my stage.)

What also struck me, was the play of light and shadow that gave each flower its special “place”.  This extravagant “stage lighting” – courtesy, again, of Ma Nature and Pa Sun – could never be emulated, fabricated or approximated by any of Hollywood’s expensive lighting kits and unionized technicians.   Shadow and dark, it seemed, were essential agents in the backdrop that gives each flower its unique beauty.  And the lighting: changing every moment.  You have to be there.  You have to be present.  To witness.  To understand.  To receive.

And so, the gifts are given.  Every moment.  This fascinating, interesting, absorbing, unique – and ephemeral – production, called “My Life” is happening.  In the Theater of Now.  It only plays once.   Admission is free, but there is one string attached: this is, you have to show up.  You have to be present.  You have to be alive in this moment of now, or you miss the whole show.

You miss the Solitary Flowers.  The Fragrance.  The shouting of a million Japanese Plum blossoms.  The quiet whispers of Monastic Tulips, praying in Humble Churches of Unkempt Back-Yards.  You miss the simple daisies and dandelions as they tell their proud working-class story to the soft green grasses that glimmer in the background.

Single Solitary TulipSo much can be said with a Whisper, a Sigh.  A nodding head in the wind, from these simple, colorful beings who know and celebrate their humble purpose and place in life, with a song that makes us all look mute and deaf in comparison.

This was a simple walk, from a Morning Coffee, to an Afternoon Computer, on this one day called Friday May 20th, 2011, which will never come again.   These gifts were given to me.

I pass them on to you.

Island Life

Islands are Places we Visit.

For a day, a Lifetime, a year.

These places slow us down, fill us up,  calm us,  quench us, nurture us.  Remind us of Lost Spaces and Found Friends.   Dried Flowers, Oregano, the Shifting Sands of Time.

The Horizontal Emptiness: Quiet Latitudes where earth and sky blend, in seamless & harmonious misty pearl & granite.

There’s something beautiful about the Pacific Northwest Gulf Islands.  Something not shared by the Tropics, the Prairies or any other ceremoniously industrialized culture.   I first remember feeling this on a trip to Pacific Rim – then, not a National Park, simply called “Long Beach” – on Vancouver island, circa 1972.

We had all finished with High School; there was a Pregnant Pause while we, as young adults, considered our impending voyages and destinies in the machinery of Modern-Day life.   I went out to Long Beach on the invitation of a friend, drove out on my motorcycle.  Walked a long, long path down a tunnel of trees into an unbelievable land of windswept light, ocean air, and the continuous roar of pacific surf.

What my friend – already stationed there for a week – invited me into, was a place of letting go, a place of timelessness.  A place where the engines of City Living were illegal, annoying and unwanted.  A place where you could open up your senses to the vastness, the sparkling beauty of Big Nature and sense something beyond spoken words and named names.   None of the psychedelic music of this era could ever capture the full ambiance of this place; it had to be captured by the Open Mind of the Moment, the Quiet Heart of the deeper pulses of Man, pulses that Long for, and know of – as Kabir states – The Ocean Within The Drop.

So, Nature, our Pilgrimages to these Spots, the relationship that survives and thrives – on a cellular level – with the healing unguents of the naked Elements, is my Religion Of Choice.   If I can believe in Anything, I can believe in the Nature of Nature.  The serene essence of what speaks to us through the nameless beauty of the voices in the Natural Landscape.   Skyscape.  Seascape.

Perhaps it’s one of the few reminders of who we deeply are, inside ourselves.   Deep inside the Protocols, the Agendas, the Layers, the Architecture of Family, Roles & Relationships; deep beneath the Deadlines, the Schedules, the Itineraries.   Something inside aches to be still.  To be opened.  To be Heard, Felt, Spoken, Expanded, Healed, Relieved, Lived, Exploded, Loved, Held, Nurtured, ‘Wombed’, Entombed in the Gentle Hands of the Embrace of this very central, potent and indescribable Lover.

Once again, “Island Life” has reclaimed my Soul.  Fed me – the Deep Me, the Interior Me, the Central Me.   Reminded me of the Gentleness, Beauty, and Undying Hope at the Center of Things.   Inspired me with the Noble, Sensuous Curves of Mother Nature: woman of all women, Mother of all Mothers – all on Mother’s Day, to boot.

And … this was not meant to be a Mother’s Day tribute, but perhaps, in an intuitive, subtle manner, Mother winds her way into our hearts.  Nature is both a Fierce Warrior & Gentle Mother; these facets she has, two of many.  Perhaps Mothering and Mother’s Day embody a deep, significant need in all of us to be nurtured — at a level, quality and depth that is difficult to convey in words.

Finding Earth, Finding Self

“Nature” is not far from “Nurture” … perhaps the challenge is to know our own Nature, and to find our own Nurture, deeper than where the hands of earthly Mothers can reach.

Nature is at best a Mirror, which can reflect, define, acknowledge – the serenity, wisdom, peace and beauty we all contain at our core.    This – to me – is the real gift that we’re surrounded with, both in the Nature of Nature, and in the True Nature of Humans: the reminders of the essence of our Real Self, our True Gift, and our Definitive Journey.

The Angels of Light and Shadow…

I love Black & White photography.

My brother turned me on to this variant, some five years ago.   It was September and the gardens at the Park & Tilford mall in North Vancouver were still vibrant with Plant Life.   It was just a suggestion, and *bingo* … I had discovered a new world of the subtlety of angles, patterns, contrasts – the shifting of Shape & Shadow.

One of the studies I did that day, was a group of Datura Blossoms.   I know little about these things, except perhaps some obscure connection to long-gone aboriginal rituals involving mixes of this plants hallucinogenic and toxic components for ceremonial use.   Let’s just say: the plant has historic personality.

But, more than historic nuance, this plant is dazzling, erotic, deadly innocent and angelically sinful.  It’s an eyeful for anyone with a lens and a happy finger.

The Datura conjures up many metaphors. We can begin here and play with words and poetry, but we’d surely run out of air.

She’s a Princess, a Queen, a Vampire, a High Priestess, a Serial Killer and a Monogamous Lover, all wrapped into one.  Something unearthly about her delights.  Something that both seduces the soul, and sends shrill shivers up the spinal column.

She invites you into her Folds, poor insect … and you are never seen again – in Heaven or on Earth!

One gets lost in Divine Speculation here: the Curves, the Implications, the Kleenex in the Wind, the Promises of Love after Death, the hymn of rising voices of a congregation unseen.  Drink in her Distance, her Coolness, her Opiates, Forget your Vows … and let go, for once and for all, of the Great Steering Wheel of Life.

Okay, back to photography: oh how boring!  Compared to an altered-state orgasm of Lofty Potentials, photography is just a lost form of “grabbing the Now”… or as Castaneda’s mentor Don Juan would say:

“All of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic centimeter of chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time.  The difference between an average man and a warrior is that the warrior is aware of this, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting, so that when his cubic centimeter of chance pops out he has the necessary speed, the prowess to pick it up….. A warrior….. is always alert and tight and has the spring, the gumption to grab it”

So, riding in ecstasy, we continue above the Treetops.  We examine the mundane principles of photography: shutter speed, focal depth, ISO settings, and we fall asleep beside an old Black & White TV set, snoring: our beer and hot-dog has gotten warm and cold, respectively.  We lapse into dreaming and realize that the photo was a complete illusion: the black and white spectrum refers to shadow and light that we carry inside of us: one, trapping our soul in a complex labyrinth of addictions, assumptions and distractions; the other seeking to launch us, fly us, explode us beyond our mundane and human agendas.

So, let us with humility and grace, bring together art and science, and have them rest peacefully in the same white-gloved hand.   The true art is to understand the limitations of science.  And the true science is to blow away the doorways and walls that limit the art of being human.

There is really nothing more that can be said of the sacred geometry of these beings.  They are simply meant to be seen: known, admired, in their complexity, their poetry and their purity.

Most of life has the potential to make us reflect: awareness of what we carry on the inside, and how we move with it through our lives.  Life itself is an interaction of Light and Shadow.  Everything we do, say, be, become, remember … is due to the coupling of opposite forces to produce material reality.  The real gift is to understand the play of Light and Shadow – not merely on the outside – but on the inside.  This is where our consciousness or unconsciousness germinates and affects our own lives and all we interact with in our circle of reality.

May Photography carry on. My Photography certainly will.  But, I speak more highly of the art of seeing – not only in Photography, but in the Art of Life Itself.  Your “shutter speed” is the breathing space between the vicarious onslaught of thoughts, internal dialogue.  Your “aperture” is the window of how wide you can open your eyes to truth.  Your ISO is your sensitivity to Available Light.  Available Insight.  Available Delight.

May your everyday pictures echo the wisdom of a thousand silent words.

… And Spring has come In A Day

One Wanders.
The Winds Beckon.

And here we are: in New Westminster, on a spry and twiggy April afternoon.

It’s nigh past time for a break from Computer-Land, and the Vast expanse of Turbulent Spring skies are calling.  The sun has broken out from behind its Ancient Wintertime Mask of eternal grey.

Where we live, there’s a vast panorama of sky, looking northeast-ward.  For some reason – perhaps a time of year where the Sun King duels with masses of Arctic Air – the sky has become a theatrical battle-ground of sun, cloud & blue.  God’s paintbrush, and imaginative brush-strokes cause huge drama on this canvas.

And, of course, it invites me out of my lonely hut … into tentative and uncertain neighborhoods.

Actually, what spoke to me, is the Magnolias.

These enigmatic denizens of the boulevards – these are really the Harbingers of Spring.  I’ve noticed them for about 10 or 15 years now.  They seemed to have not existed before then.  Perhaps they were smuggled here in clay vases from a subterranean pit in Shanghai.

I grew up with mainly Cherry Blossoms and Japanese Plum.  Well, that was “good enough”, as it were.  Back then, who cared? We, in our naive and green urbane-ness, we were too busy with low-cost distractions to be pursuing the sublime.

So, Spring (and a host of other Seasons) went largely unnoticed.

I noticed the Magnolias when I returned from Saskatchewan in the late 90’s.  I remember seeing them on 6th Ave in New Westminster: skinny little boulevard trees that the Royal City’s planners had stuck into tiny holes in the sidewalk.  These things were true  “twiggies” – fashion models of the Plant World… anorexic, but lovely in their own homely way.  Skinny, leafless sticks with large floppy wet-kleenex flowers that literally sprang to life like gangly gay teenagers, and died the next day.  You had to be fast to get them.

Flowers don’t last.

But we seem to.

We, who grace the streets with Eye & Hear, Mouth and Strife.  Lipstick and Leotards.  The gallant Observers in this Free, EveryDay Parade of Life.

Wow!