We search for that breath, and its mindfulness. It’s that deep breath that focuses you on the moment, and fills you with calm and quiet. Too often our lives often become cluttered with the earthly grind of work and worry. We all feel some form of its ache. Some of us find the world is a bumpy road. Some of us find it an easy path to navigate, if not a little dusty now and then.
May you have the good fortune, at least once in a while, to find yourself on a summer’s drive to the countryside. A smooth ride on the open road, where you step out of the mundane, and your old coat, and into the mystic. Finding that deep breath that focuses you on the moment, you are there, in the green of summer, in a place that feels holy, and you feel whole. And you listen to the silence. Can you feel the silence?
Happy Birthday, Van Morrison. Thank you for the ride….
He was no ordinary mime. A portal opened from another realm, and he would step through and onto Planet Earth, 40.7789º N, 73.9637º W, before the sweeping steps of the Metropolitan Museum. It was New York City in the 1970s. I was a college student, and my art class met at the museum. Whenever he was there, I was mesmerized by his vibrancy, his intensity, and his silent movement.
Watching him was that moment before lightning hits, when you can sense electricity in the air and feel the back of your neck tingle. He could bend time without uttering a word. Everything would speed up and he’d be manic, weightless, strong. Everything would shift to slow motion. He’d move with grace; centered, solid, fluid. At times, he was as still as stone. Or animated, funny. Earthy, but not earthly, as his ephemeral creations morphed from this to that. You, my friend, like me, would stop and be in the moment.
I saw him enough that I later recognized him on a TV show, without his face paint, but still out of this world. He played an alien. The show: Happy Days. His name: Robin Williams.
You know the rest of the story. He made us laugh long and loud…he was a soldier in the war on sadness. We knew some of his own battles, but did not, until last year, know how brave he was. With so much of his work filled with language and sound, the memory of him, performing in silence, haunts me.
A portal opened from another realm, 37.9128º N, 122.4756º W. It was Paradise Cay, CA, August 11, 2014. Silently, Robin Williams stepped into it, and out of, Planet Earth. You, my friend, like me, stopped to be in the moment. We let his silence fill us.
A beam of sunlight filters in through an open window of a room bathed in shadow. The air is still. In the ray of light, dust particles bounce off of one another, illuminated. The fine concentration of light is filled with tiny, radiant specs that are suspended in space, and yet, in motion: floating, shimmering, tumbling together, touching, separating, touching once more.
The physics of it does not matter. The dust-air interaction does not matter. Brownian motion does not matter. Lucretius’ remarkable vision poem of atoms randomly moving in an infinite universe does not matter. Nor does Einstein’s explanation of it. Here’s what matters: You can see it. It is the dust of the world, dazzling in the light.
This is your whole life, right here, right now, contained and elevated, in the ephemeral ray of light pouring in. And you tell yourself: this is the dust of me, the dust around me, what I breathe in, what I breathe out. The dust is filled with thoughts, memories. Mine, yours. Dust from old books. Dust of letters I’ve opened, of papers torn. Dust from my son’s drawings. Dust from cars as their tires leave behind bits of journeys that float through my window, into the beam. Dust of a tissue from my mother’s purse. Dust of my cats, here, and then not here, alive in an eternal way, I suppose, luminous in this narrow beam. Tears evaporate and find their way into the shining zig zag motion. Cherish what you have, and what you have lost. Look for it all, shimmering and tumbling, as dust particles in a shaft of light.
It was winter, with trees asleep and dreaming of spring. In the cold and quiet of morning, the sun-warmed icy branches bloomed with drops of water. I took the shot.
The artist and painter, Philippe Pherivong, saw my photo, and called the image “the tears of a bud.”
The phrasing, more than the image, reminded me that where there is life, there is movement. Even in what appears to be stillness. Even though you feel you are waiting. Process is the path of living things. Change. Growth. Life is the glorious and bittersweet unfolding of continuous becoming. The tears of a bud waiting to be born.
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