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

Seasons Gratings!

Christmas is over. Thank the gods!

I have something to admit: I have a problem with Christmas. Not an objection, I like the idea of families gathering and sharing, I just don’t have that, not for many years. and it’s become a problem. An issue.

I don’t know when it started, a long time ago, but every year now for a few weeks leading up to the day and building exponentially like a nuclear reactor going offline unexpectedly (except far more predictable), I deal with a pretty severe depression. By the time the day arrives I want to lock my doors, block the windows, turn off all the lights, and disappear silently into a bottle.

It’s a battle. One I usually lose. This year was no different. I tried. I really did. I meditated and read only optimistic news and reached out to family, but the meditations only made me aware of the underlying self pity, the good news made me feel left out, and family stayed out of reach.

How about that? Me. The Bohemian that spends his spare time learning, practicing, and writing about mindfulness and acceptance and gratitude and love. Depressed.

The thing about problems, problems like seasonal depression, or loneliness, or loss of self worth, or whatever, is that absolutely no one is immune. No one. The Christ faced his demons in the desert, Buddha constantly battled with Mara, and I deal with depression that lights up like a Roman candle with the first Christmas song played over crappy speakers in some back road gas station Santa will surely pass by and grows into a raging forest fire that chokes the life out of me and leaves me in ashes.

Okay, maybe that’s a little melodramatic, but also probably not so far from the truth of how it feels, but it’s also not my point.

My point is that everyone, absolutely everyone, deals with something and while I am neither the Christ or the Bhudda I have been given the very same tools to deal with those “somethings” that they were.

And one day I will learn how to use them.

Wait for it…

Today I’m grateful it’s passed and accept that I still have things to learn.

Depressed Bohemian, indeed.

There’s something funny about that image. I’ll throw it in the fodder file to use later. A gift to myself.

These small hopes I carry

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“The shortness of our lives prevents us from undertaking long hopes.”
– Horace
 
 

To make it through another day with a smile
To lay down with gratitude
To laugh as often as possible
To share whatever I have
With whoever I can
Are held aloft
Against the crushing weight of time
Against the relentless tide of life
That creeps like a hidden assassin
Just out of view
They are held up by faith
Learned in patience
They are the air I breath
The blood in my veins
The whisper I offer to the wind
The never fading kiss I press against your lips
I have no enduring hopes
But to love
and be loved
To hope for more than that
For more than I can experience in this moment
Is folly
To hope for more than this moment
Is vanity
To lose hope
Is to give in to the ceaseless tide
Is to be crushed by time
To live with hope
However small
Is what makes my short time here
A miracle

 

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.

I want you to know

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I loved you then
With eyes open
With a heart filled
With the fury of a thousand suns
With the radiance of a million stars
With the fullness of the moon
With every breathe
Every beat of my heart
Every thought
Every action
Every word
With all that I am
And all that I will ever be
So I ask you now
How could I ever love you less?

Image by Kimberly Mas

 

Always

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Love
Is all that matters
It wakes me in the morning
Sets me on my path
Gets me through my days
Keeps me warm on coldest nights
Sends me miles from nowhere
To somewhere
Makes a home
Where a dream rested
Makes a life
Where hope is tested
Makes me full
When I’m hungry
Heals me
When I am unwell
Welcomes me
At all hours
In all places
In all ways
Whether I travel in the company of passion
Or reside in the solitude of self
Whether desire is by my side
Or the isolation I abide
It is always with me
Love
Once given
Remains

Winter

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I was not dead then
I gathered life
Like wheat at harvest
I shed the seeds
That flourished and bloomed
I breathed the sweet air we all share
Bathed in the life giving glow of the Moon
Swam in the endless sea of light
Traveled months of darkness without fear
Sensing all I was a part of
With awe and gratitude
No, I was not dead then
But I am so much more alive
Now

Released

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Too long ago
A lifetime
Millennia it seems
I sheltered my heart
And bound my flesh
In hopeful anticipation
I wore the numb pain
Of isolation
Like a badge of honor
I learned acceptance
Became aware of something greater
Than I ever imagined
My Self
A connection to All
I learned to navigate the path of Life
With gratitude
Even for suffering
To live with intention
Compassion
Patience
Still
I was alone
My limbs
Once coiled springs
Memorized their routines
My nerves
Quieted by the absence of touch
Slept
My mind
Made up for what I did not have
With story and song
But neuron and synapse can not replace passion or union
I filled my soul
With all that I desired
Until it became a blazing beacon
That lit the way and carried my call
Across empty miles
To you
You heard my song
Flew to my arms
In a moment my world changed
The chains of solitude evaporated
In a single perfect kiss
My eyes fell upon a world made new
A world with you
How joyful
The pain of awakened nerves and patient flesh released
How perfect
The song resonating in spaces reaerved for Us
How sweet
The memory

A good heart

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My vehicle
Wasn’t always taken care of
Old as it is
It shows the scars
Of its rough history
It’s paint
Lacks the luster of its early days
The interior
Is cracked and stained and torn
Sometimes it requires repair
I have the tools
The ability
Patience
I do what I can
But some of the work
Is too little too late
And it breaks down
If I could do it again
Start from the beginning
With the skills and knowledge
I have today
I would take better care of it
So it would last longer
It would shine
Be clean
It would have fewer dents and scars
A better life
But I’d keep the engine from this one
Because I run good

 


 

Image: “A Good Find” by J M Greff