Viewpoint

I’m at a roadside park just off I-94 overlooking a part of the Badlands called Painted Canyon.

The sun is setting to my left. It highlights the layered colors of the sprawling valley below me in intense blues, fiery reds, bruised purpled, living greens and a hundred shades of grey and brown.

The clouds are lit from within on a background that slowly shifts from pale blue to a deep violet capturing all the colors of my imagination.

Just past the edge of this vantage is an ancient juniper with dark berries. Balancing on the edge of its sparse limbs a meadowlark sings. In the distance a red tailed hawk circles.

At my feet are perfect yellow flowers that iridescent green bees suckle at. Ants clamber in the deep grass, carrying supplies to stock their underground metropolis.

A child’s balloon floats by me. A red island drifting on a cool breeze. Dancing with the invisible.

In the distance a child cries. Another laughs. The incessant sounds of man, the murmuring chatterous monotony of high and low and hushed and shouted tones and nearby traffic and all their smells, sweet and masked and dirty, are all broken, drowned in a profound silence that has no name.

Standing at the fence that keeps humanity at bay, separate from the world we were born into, is a young couple, giddy with love, arms wrapped around each other, smiling, content, joyous. Their love shines so brightly that it adds to the glow of the setting sun. A stranger takes their picture, hands the camera back to them with a “You’re welcome” and with no more than a quick glance into eternity and a shrug, walks quickly back to their car. They have someplace to be. An itinerary. A plan. They will miss so much. Too much.

I take in the sight and am filled with a deep peace, with the miracle of this moment. It is captured within me and I am captured within it and it lives forever.

Not in the past. Not as a memory, now, because Now is all that ever exists.


Image by J M Greff

Long Nights Moon

Today I woke to this gorgeous nearly full moon illuminating the clouds from within and was reminded that even in the darkest days there is light.

I took some time to contemplate the shortness of our own days, the divine spark that resides in all of us which lights the darkness from within, and the eternal promise of life renewed, and I silently expressed my gratitude for every second of light and life I am given as well as for those inevitable periods of darkness that make the light so much easier to see and appreciate.

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The sun will remain low on the horizon for three days before rising back into the heavens. The nights will be long and cold.

This solstice is quite rare because it is accompanied by a full moon that brings with it positive change and pleasant and welcome surprises. The next time we will witness a full moon on the solstice is 2094.

To make it even more special it will be followed by the Ursids meteor shower on the 22nd and 23rd. I have no idea when this triple crown will happen again but I don’t imagine it will be any time soon.

It is quite literally a once in a lifetime event so I hope you take the time to bear witness and celebrate in your own way.

Tonight I will celebrate publicly. I’ve been invited to a Christmas party hosted by one of the companies I drive for that also happens to be a company I have contracted with many times over the years and was an employee of until last year. It will be a comfortable gathering among friends.

Tomorrow night I will honor this time privately by writing down my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, and release them all in fire and an offering of the ashes to the wind in gratitude.

Sunday I will connect with friends, family, and Beloved to reaffirm my presence, my promise, my commitment, and to thank them for being in my life.

However you decide to celebrate or honor this sacred time I wish you a happy and blessed solstice!

Past Present

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

How bright these lights that shine now. Here. In this moment. Blinding us between staccato strikes of darkness that seem to last forever.

Each flash highlighting a simple frame, like a silent movie lit with the phosphorescence of an atomic blast, melting the film it is remembered on and leaving only hallucinogenic traces in the impenetrable darkness that follows, relaying an entire history in the nuclear ashes of our memories over a cup of coffee shared in lament.

Each flash an anchor to any given moment that we revisit again and again until it defines us. Until we use it to define ourselves to others.

A moment of passion. Of fury. Of compassion. Of hunger. Each playing out in fractional tales that seldom, if ever, follow the lines of the acts laid out in steady progression, to ultimately mythologize the story of our lives.

And we, faithful fanatics of Life, believe the tale that plays, act after act, each read after played, and believed as if written by the hand of god itself.

But they are lies.

It is our adherence to these false memories, these golden calf we cow-tow to with learned and obedient humility, that rob the true essence of their meaning.

We are not the sum of our experiences, the memories of which we redirect to fit the image we carry of ourselves, we are the sacred being that stands now at the burning edge of reality, creating life as we wish it to be, or living, true to form, blindly, those maligned memories meant only to keep us beating on the shores of yesterday.

It is always a choice.

We can choose to live in “almost now”, that sleight of mind, the mirage of now we allow to be influenced by the past, as Observer, or we can choose to live on that burning edge of Now, here, mindfully, in each moment, created second by second with an understanding that what we believe to be true is most often contaminated by who we believe ourselves to have been and, instead, to see our Self through the eyes of the Divine as Creators because this, whatever “this” is, has never happened before, whether it be that moment of passion or of fury or of love or simply opening the refrigerator door.

None of it could have happened in any version of the story without you.

I choose Now.


Image by Jana.

Silence

There is a silence here. A silence in the air. In the ground I walk upon broken with heavy boots leaving the slightest crackle of lightest snow snuffed little by little with each step as my path hardens into firmest ice.

Above me a sky of photograph blue spreads so far I can see the curve of this incredible planet I call home.

Big Sky. Yes. No denying that moniker. I’ve seen many skies and Montana has the biggest skies I’ve ever seen.

Early winters are the norm here. I guess I forgot that having lived so many years just east of the natural weather break the Badlands provide. Here, there is nothing to stop the winds amplified by unimaginable miles of rolling hills meeting high plains.

So here I am. At the edge of what I knew facing the experience of what I will know.

Sounds familiar. Sounds like Life.

Unless we live under the warm blankets of comfort, never venturing out to explore what we may yet know, we fortify ourselves. Build walls.

We in-experience.

To never step into the cold, the blizzard winds that tear at us, each frozen tear of the Universe itself falling from heights we really can not imagine like an infantry of icy pebbles, or grains of purest sand that burn our feet with impressions of the memories of worlds that left them, is to never experience the gift that life is.

How fortunate I am that the Divine, both furious ice and flame, has put me here to see with eyes and feel with hands what those with only the machinations or extrapolations of minds may express or experience through words.

I hope my words suffice.

Who am I?

The Buddha was once asked if he was a god to which he replied “No.”
“Are you a wizard, then?”
“No.”
“Well, are you a man?”
“No” he said.
Confused by his answers they asked “So, what are you?”
The Buddha said, “I am awake.”

I can not claim that I am fully awake yet. I still lay in this bed I made and rub my eyes, trying to make sense of the world around me, but that simple answer, for me, begins to define the answer to my own question:

Who am I?

Over the last few years finding that answer has felt somewhat more critical because of the things I am trying to accomplish in life, and while I admit that I feel like I am no closer than when I began, I have begun to understand that it matters less than I originally thought.

Instead, I am finding that it is who I believe myself to be that is more important and that the expression of those beliefs is an expression of the things inside me that I give life to.

Those beliefs come from experiences and those experiences are interpreted through my previous experiences.

If I believe myself to be compassionate it is because I believe compassion to be of more value than indifference and yet indifference, selective and focused to achieve a positive goal, can have value as well. Much like not caring if I smashed my thumb with a hammer because that happens from time to time and does not mean I deserved it or am a horrible carpenter.

However, I would never describe myself as indifferent. In this way my views of Self are presented as more than expressions of those things I believe myself to be, they are expressions of who I hope to be, who I want to be.

So, who am I?

It really is simple. Much simpler than the explanation.

I am the sum and expression of my experiences, I am who I want to be, and I am who I believe myself to be.

I believe that I am on the right path. Making the right decisions despite their outcome because those decisions are based on faith and hope and love. I believe that everything will be okay. That my life will be everything I want it to be. All of those things require that I believe I am already the person I want to be regardless of how transitional my life may appear because that is how I become that person.

I may not be awake, but I am waking up.

——

Image: “Awake” by Martina Stipen

 

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Your are unique

The Universe, though largely a mystery, is known to contain billions of galaxies just within our limited view of its vastness.

Each of those galaxies, like our own, contain billions of stars and each star is very likely to be at the center of its own planetary system.

That’s hundreds of billions of planets and each and every one of them has the potential to be home trillions of life forms.

Our galaxy alone could be home to trillions of trillions of life forms.

The numbers are beyond calculation or comprehension when we consider how many potential life forms there are in the universe, which may just be part of a larger system of billions of other universes bumping and squeezing into each other like cells in a body that make up something even larger.

We just don’t know.

What we do know, what we are absolutely certain about, is that among all those planets circling all those stars in all those galaxies there is only one you.

One.

You are unique in all the universe.

And it is incomplete without you.

———-

Image from just a tiny section of space observed by the Hubble telescope.

You are Divine

That soul you carry, the one that can feel as heavy as a crate of stones or light enough to lift you to the stars.

The part of you that you ignore when it pleads for attention with pain.

That calls out to you and opens your heart to the exquisite heights of love.

That makes you dance and cry and sing and laugh without effort. Without thought.

It is a part of the living energy of the Universe itself which flows through and connects all things.

That soul is who you really are.

Not the physical being that experiences those things.

Not the thoughts that drive or replay those experiences.

Not the memories.

You are the life within this temporary vessel that is a gift of a million sensations and thoughts and emotions and that life is part of the very universe.

A part of God.

You are Divine.

———-

Image: “In Search of the Divine -Shiva and Shakti” by Pooja Bhapkar

Sacred Human

Every cell in your body, every muscle, bone, tendon, artery, vein, capillary, and the blood the flows through them, every neuron that fires thought both pleasant and unpleasant, every memory triggered, every emotion that accompany those memories whether they bring ecstatic joy or mind numbing, incapacitating, suffering, every breath and beat of your heart, has been written by the Divine who has designed your life specifically for you.

You are Sacred.

———–

Image: “Omniscience” by Carlos Quevedo

Life is a Journey

 

“People are hypocrites” she proclaims. “No one lives the life they want.”

I have said those same words myself, or something similar, though it probably contained expletives and self pity.

How do I tell her what I have learned in a single online conversation? How do I tell her that there was a time in my life that I shared that view? How do I explain that my change of view was both instantaneous and took many years?

I had the four bedroom house on an acre of land with a six car garage, a cabin on a private lake, a boat, motorcycles, off road 4×4, a recording studio in my basement, my own construction company, everything I thought I needed to be happy, and in a moment of human failure I lost everything.

Even though it initially brought with it a physical, as well was emotional, pain it also brought a proclamation of “FREEDOM!”, shouted in big screen fashion, it took many more years to understand that none of the stuff I gathered and lost over the years ever really mattered.

At the time of the “loss” it felt like I had been robbed of my entire world. Like I was condemned. Cursed.

Now, looking back with unclouded eyes, I can see that I was most miserable when I had everything I thought I wanted.

It took many miles to discover that what I was missing couldn’t be found on a piece of land or in a store or online or was anything I could carry in my pocket or drive or use in any way.

What I was missing was found inside and I found it only by enduring, surviving, and exploring with gratitude the journey that my life became.

I discovered is that the journey itself is life.

Not the prescribed “this will make you happy” copywriting on a box of sugar sweetened cereal or the dictated image of perfection programmed by hours in front of a screen that insisted I couldn’t be happy unless I owned the latest fashion or drove the newest car or smelled a certain way or walked a certain way or looked a certain way or spoke a certain way.

The struggles and joys and passions and pains and heartbreaks are each but a single step along the paths of our lives.

Today my journey brings me back to the acquisition of “stuff”, but not in the way it did back then. Today my intentions guide both my needs and desires as they apply to others. They tell me that the life I have led these past years, paying off old debt, finding myself and being true to that Self, exposing my underbelly to the entire world, ready to feast on it, without fear, was necessary. Essential.

Each step I have made has led me here to this place of love and gratitude.

Now, in complete surrender to, and acceptance of, a grace that I work to prove my worth of receiving, I push forward with plans left by the roadside long ago.

Plans to live. Fully. One step at a time.

Because life isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.

Travel far.

Spring Prayer

Selene, Goddess of the Moon

You who are Maiden, Mother, Ancient Wisdom, and all things Divine

As winter releases its long hold I ask that you help me to release those things that harm or hurt or hinder

and to nurture only those that serve or enlighten

As spring returns and life renews I ask that you fold me in your love and feed my soul that I may grow

Guide my my hands, and keep my body strong, so I reflect your good intentions

Guide my mind and soul so I learn from the pain and suffering that all endure

Guide my heart and spirit, and lead me through your love, so I can fulfill your your plan and live my life as One

For these things I offer you my gratitude because I know you have already granted them

————

Image by Zeng Hao Dun Huang