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.
I often talk about “Now” as being the only time we ever have without really addressing the bigger question: How much time do we really have?
That question can be answered in two ways:
Our true Self, the consciousness that resides within these temporary vessels, comes from the Source and returns to it after our time in this form is complete and while whatever happens after that is open for debate it is seldom argued that the Source, The Universe, God, whatever name you choose to call it, is timeless. Infinite. So we too are also infinite.
At least for a time.
Yet, it can not be denied that we, here, now, in our physical form, live in a space of linear time. We are born. We exist for a while. We return to the infinite. Time exists only in that brief existence between birth and death and the time we have is incredibly short.
While in this form we experience a physical reality. We touch, taste, see, smell, think, feel. We age. We laugh. We cry. We love. We experience pain and joy and suffering and gain and loss and, eventually, ultimately, we experience death.
When I look at myself in the mirror I can see the passage of time. The laugh lines and crows feet. The greying. The scars that serve as reminders of who I have been and the things I have done. The man I am becoming day by day. Minute by minute. Second by second.
That man I see is no more “Me” than the boy I saw at ten exploring the world. Or the young man on his own in his teens and twenties finding his way, losing himself, struggling to become. Or the self critical man in his thirties hardened by experience. Or the finally awakened man in his forties.
When I close my eyes I can see that I am all of those previous versions of myself.
And none of them.
I am more, and I am made more by my experiences. All of them.
Like I said, however, this time is short. Too short. Too short to experience all the things I want to experience. Too short to “get over” the negative things that have happened. Too short to learn all the things I want to learn. To laugh as much as I want.
It is long enough to experience amazing things. To learn from all my experiences. To laugh joyfully. To love deeply.
But only if I keep my intentions alive and maintain a balance.
I will never laugh enough if I don’t seek out the company of those who bring me joy or do the things that make me happy. I will never learn enough if I am not constantly aware of how limited my time here is and how important it is to always be learning. I will never love deep enough if I keep the people I love at arms length or withdraw or set myself to fail or if I never truly love myself.
The balance is found in how I live and the best use of my time here, Now, is to live as fully and fearlessly as I can.
When we are born we discover the most amazing things: the world develops before our very eyes and as we grow it expands as if we, ourselves, are the gods that create it moment by moment.
In our teens we discover complex emotions that threaten our very existence: rage, pain, immense joy and sadness, and, for the very first time, even though we may not recognize it for what it is, Love.
We go through school being taught pointless rhetoric: math, science, history. All the while being taught none of those things that could lead us to deeper paths; mindfulness, loving kindness, compassion. Those are supposed to be taught by our parents. Parents who never learned those things either.
Learn them. They will lead you farther than you imagine.
Later still, we discover that we wished we had learned more of those worthless ideas. Paid closer attention. What was that formula for finding the volume of a circle again? That will come in handy later. I promise you that. So pay attention if you can. But there’s more.
We discover the value of money. Of friendship and of hard work and of possession. We go into the world discovering fine food, good company, bright lights.
Too often people don’t make it past those last discoveries. They base their lives on the hedonistic values of life: a big house, a nice car, good clothes, physical pleasure. Discovery ends. Life has been explored and all that it offers has been found.
Those discoveries become empty. Meaningless. Superficial. Life becomes meaningless. Emotions become an intolerable consequence. A side effect of life.
If we are insightful, or have a fortunate predilection for it, or have a loved one willing to force our awareness, or we are just plain lucky, or unlucky, we push deeper. Struggle harder to find meaning.
Our path of discovery narrows to two distinct paths: inward or outward.
The outward path leads us to medical discovery. To miracle cures. To pills that end our suffering. To gurus and healers and shaman. The path can branch over and over from here but it always leads us to the discovery of the inward path though very very few can make that transition.
If you find yourself at that transitional fork in your path I hope, I truly hope, you find your way to the inward path. Reach into that place and you will find a hand willing to lead you farther than you ever imagined. I promise you that.
The inward path leads us to ever deeper discovery: understanding, self love, honesty, acceptance, awareness, unity, Love. True Love.
Discoveries that lead us to higher planes of existence. Planes where loss and suffering are accepted as simply a part of life and where the value of a single breath, drawn long and slow while listening to and feeling the beat of our own miraculous heart connect us to the very soul of the Universe, is beyond measure.
What we discover there can never be fully expressed in words but in that place are experiences outside the realm of comprehension and yet understood as if we were once again children creating, moment by moment, the very fabric of our own distinct, yet combined, reality.
My wish for you is this:
Continue your journey. Never cease in your struggle of discovery, because even further beyond that point lay infinity: a point of chaotic generation and regeneration of life where the distance between infancy and eons are but fractions of moments of the life of a single drop of moisture on a spiders web and all that we have discovered between birth and true life, the life that always awaits, that bekons and welcomes all, are a single reflection on the surface of that dew that shimmers a while before dropping into an endless ocean that rises as mist to condense on the web over and over again.
In that chaos of constant re-creation resides the Divine where She rests on this, the Seventh Day, with arms wide and welcome, to bring us into Her embrace.
It is a place of constant discovery and awe and wonder where a word as simple and complex as “Love” or “Gratitude” can define our very existence.
Though I tend to speak of it in terms of enlightenment and higher planes of consciousness it is not some mythical place reached only through lifetimes of deep meditation and study. It does not require the use of psychoactive compounds or healers or teachers.
There is a place
are as solid as a tangerine
and just as sweet
Where the warm breeze
on an autumn noon
cools salty skin
with the whispered voice of nymphs
Where the sound of the owl
blends with the melody of trees
and laughing children
like a chorus
Where the scent of wild lavender
and ancient oaks
that stretch beyond the endless horizon
can be tasted on the air
Where the senses are so keen
that the march of an ant
is heard above the roar of a plane
the breath of a bird
becomes a song
the beating hearts
and working legs
of a caterpillar
tap out staccato beats
as it crunches on a leaf
Where the passing of time
is controlled by will
to keep the sun and moon
It is a place
where the touch of my lover
is like the hand of God herself
and her kisses
are each a blessing
I spent the last twenty five years of my life waiting. Waiting for something or someone to give my life meaning.
I wait and wait and someone comes along and I rejoice in their appearance in my life. I have meaning and purpose! Joy!
Then they leave and I am left with questions and doubts and the waiting begins again.
I wait for the time to be right to do those things I want to do. I get close and then something happens that puts those plans on the back burner again. Maybe next week. Next year.
I even wait for myself to achieve the level of awakening that I believe will allow me the right, that qualifies me, to pass what little knowledge I have to others but each step I make on this path only reveals what little I actually know and the sheer impossibility of the task.
Still I wait.
In the end all I am waiting for is death.
I’m done waiting.
I will not be left behind by my own apprehension. I will embrace my impatience because at fifty three I have much less time to waste waiting for something or someone or anything or anyone than I ever had and as each day passes I have even less.
I will not wait to die
Or raise myself
To touch the sky
I will go on
Though the path has no end
If I must
I will travel alone
I will not wait to love
I have been gifted
I will not wait to express it
To share it
Even if only with strangers
I will not wait until it clears like a mist
I will make a storm of it
And all who are caught in that storm
I did not wait
I think I’ll go camping this weekend… or maybe next…