Sunday, November 1, 2009

I said yes this time ...

Not all paths require climbing up. There are frequently easier ways to arrive at where you want to go.

Some paths, though, invite you--and though at the time you might hesitate (the climb is too steep, it was not in "the plan", it's probably a waste of time, and it may not, in the end, be worth it)--when you do accept, as I did last week, on my walk through Sanctuary park testing out my new digital camera--important pieces of the puzzle sometimes fall into place that might otherwise have taken hours or days or weeks or even decades to assemble, in that mosaic we try to construct to understand, well, "life".

The treasures I found!!!  My eyes were immediately drawn to Down instead of Up, as I ascended the stone stairs, though the view all around was much more compelling.  Surprisingly more enjoyable than reaching my particular destination was the journey itself, slowly, step by step, one tiny visual connection at a time. 

My camera didn't just capture a cascade of leaf-littered stairs up a steep grass embankment--it recorded  images made by water, on granite, that I saw as ghosts of beings or scenes of life:  a man fishing on a boat as a whale watches;  a farmer with his scythe, clearing his land; the ruins of a bombed out city; a citadel announcing its importance to the surrounding mountains; a traveler walking in the evening, under a stormy sky; an impertinent duck chuckling at the antics of a fox; a wolf watching over its cubs at play--reminding me, like those once-brilliant, scattered autumn leaves--that all things pass, but that they come back again ...and again and again ... and again ... different but the same, resurrected and reborn throughout the life cycle, in more ways than we can imagine.

"It's just a bunch of steps!" for crying out loud.  [my inner voice]

And yet ... if you look ... there are a dozen poems hiding in those crevices; a hundred hidden stories; a thousand memories of the universe, waiting to be untapped.  If only someone stopped and looked.

Of course, as with Rorschach ink blots, not everyone sees the same things--in a watermark, or the pattern of fallen leaves, for example.  But whatever it is you see, or think you see--it has specific relevance to you.  And paying attention to what it means to you, however absurd or mysterious it may seem to others, is a recognition, it seems to me, of one of the ways the universe responds to our sometimes exasperated questionings.  The answer comes, not as we expect, as an answer.  Sometimes it's just a picture, an image--or a word--but we are somehow able to make the connection.

Not all those who wander are lost.  [Who said that?]  Not every decision is always made based on logic.  And for those times we postpone "getting there" to stop and enjoy the now, those times we deviate from 'the plan' as a temporary reprieve from the urgency of getting to the substance of a thing--sometimes there's a hidden bonus:  we advance more rapidly than we ever might have imagined, not to where we thought was most important--but to somewhere ... better.

I would love to be able to say this in a story, or a poem.  Or a photograph.

That is the problem:  How to say a thing, that maybe can't be said. Without sounding phony--or worse, "preachy". 

"I see a butterfly."
"I see a rat."
"I see a bunch of random, blobby watermarks.  It says nothing to me.  What are you babbling about?!!"

About those stone steps ... you would have had to have been there.

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