It’s a mountain landscape. In the foreground is the calm, mirror-like surface of a lake, bordered by age-old rocks. On each side climb the verdant slopes of imposing mountains. In the distance are snowy peaks. Azure blue overhangs the scene. It appears to have survived an eternity. What inescapably captures my gaze is the sparkling light dancing in the limpid waters, untroubled by any wrinkles. Even the wind appears to have suspended its race.
I am contemplating an oil painting by one of my distant grandparents that I never knew. Imaginary idyllic scene, or faithful reproduction of a landscape bravely conquered on foot so that he could plant his easel before it? I don’t know.
This painting was recently given to me as a souvenir of my childhood — it used to sit in my grandmother's house, where I went during the holidays. I tried to remember in which room of her apartment it was hung, but I can’t. It now has pride of place in my home so I can admire it at leisure. I never tire of it.
OK movers and shakers, humbled ones, happy ones, fools, lunatics, learners and other assorted humanoids sometimes bummed by a crumbling economy, shaky world order, and the rising price of cappuccino — it's time to realize that whatever difficulties you're experiencing these days are actually gifts, each lovingly wrapped with silver linings beyond anything you can imagine.
Really. There's something in it for you. Know that everything happens for the best. Say goodbye to the old. Let it go. The old forms are dying. Their time has come and gone. But you are still here — you, the crown of creation!
Mostly everything you've depended on in your life has revealed itself to be completely unreliable. Your job? Your finances? Your relationship? Ha! Now you see them, now you don't. Seductions, one and all. Security? Good luck! Helen Keller said it best. “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.“
OK, maybe your cash flow isn't flowing, but that doesn't mean that you can't flow. Yes you can!
Waiting for a connecting flight from Asheville to Charlotte on my way home to Fort Lauderdale, I look around me at the faces of my fellow early morning passengers. The feeling of happiness within me contrasts sharply with the reflections of dulled spirits I see sitting row after row at the departure gate.
In defense of my fellow passengers, it can be argued that even the hardiest soul has a difficult time smiling at the ripe hour of six in the morning with nothing to look forward to besides a long, cramped flight in cattle-car-coach. Yet here I am, feeling a sense of contentment so overpowering it compels me to share it with a young lady sitting two seats away. We enjoy a pleasant, meandering conversation before going our separate ways.
By all rights, I should appear as glum and bored to the other awaiting passengers as they appear to me. I've logged barely a few hours of sleep thanks to a five AM wakeup call and the persistent, loud snoring of a friend who shared the expense of my hotel room. Yet I feel so alive and awake it seems like a miracle. My spirits soar like a nimble 757 jumbo jet taking flight from a short runway.
In my hippy days I was a big fan of Buckminster Fuller, the great inventor and philosopher who was more ‘new age’ than any of us: remarkable considering he was already in his seventies. When he came to London to speak in 1968 in the Central Hall, Westminster, it seemed all the flower people of England had turned out to see him. I remember being perched on a bench in a corner of the balcony, riveted to his words, wearing my usual garb of a floor-length imitation fur coat, bright green bell-bottoms and a collapsible top hat.
I loved his teachings: his insistence that there was enough wealth in our earth to ensure prosperity for every human being, if only it were effectively managed and distributed; his belief that the days of nationality and patriotism were long gone, belonging to the petty rivalries and wars for territory of bygone centuries; and his outstanding theory that we were all living on ‘spaceship earth’, our precious vehicle that travels through the universe in orbit around its sun. It was our vessel and needed caring for — nurturing — to ensure we got the best out of it. How pathetic that the people on the ship were sometimes at odds, even fighting, when we all shared this unique common interest. He went on to say that our bodies were also like ships — space and time ships — and that each of us was a ‘phantom captain’, guiding ourselves through life until the ship could function no longer, at which time we gently abandoned it and, in his interesting phrase, became unit.
Why, I asked myself, couldn’t the whole world see the good sense in this philosophy of peace, love and sharing? It was the same sentiment expressed by another hero, John Lennon, in his beautiful paean to peace, Imagine.
I’m dreaming about a beach. There is a cliff with huts scattered along the edge and a road that leads down to the shore. In the dream I live in one of the huts and I'm walking to the beach at sunrise. The beach seems to be located in some lost bay on a remote peninsula somewhere in Central America. There are lots of trees. When I awaken I remember the dream and realize that it was Xcacel beach I was dreaming of — a place I had lived years ago, only Xcacel has no cliff and it is hardly lost or remote. A dream within a dream.
I sometimes wake up while I'm still asleep and feel anxious about my inability to open my eyes or move my body. The anxiety grows into something more like alarm and I cry out with a muffled voice to someone I believe to be in the room, a room I believe I am in.When I finally awaken, I discover that none of it is true. I am lying alone in my bed in my house and the only one who could possibly have heard me, if indeed I did cry out, would have been Miatti, my cat, and she was probably outside hunting mice at that hour.
These occurrences happen over and over again. Tricked again, I think when I come back to my senses, my reality, my familiar perceptions. The pleasure of being alive is acute for the first few seconds that I’m awake, but fades quickly as if pushed aside by an overwhelming force of habit.