As nature becomes essential to daily life and getting through the chaos, I have been thinking about John Haines. Some of my most-often used quotes come his book “Fables and Distances” and so I have started reading it again and am reminded the impact his writing has had on my outlook in life.
I have been this way before, down this same path,
and most likely not for the last time.
I have been here before looking for a road,
a way through the ever-increasing obstacles
with a distant light ebbing and flowing
surrounded in the absolute silence
where I only hear my breath and the
rising panic inside.
It would be easy and a relief to stop and
allow the tree roots to take over and bring me home
but that light is still out there beyond the mountains
a fragment of hope cast from unseen hands.
The Fall 2014 issue of Stone Path Review is now available for reading at http://www.stonepathreview.com and http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/823370?__r=322616
Interview with: Peter Vircks
Poetry by: Amanda Barusch, Anuja Ghimire, Deonte Osayande, Gary Glauber, Lisa Megraw, Ralph Monday, Robert Henschel, Jr., Rochelle Natt, Salvatore Folisi, Samantha Tetangco, Wendy Brown-Baez
Short Story by: John Richmond
Paintings by: Margaret Karmazin
Photography by: Kristy Johnson, Louis Staeble, Rohnda Monroy
Photography for written pieces by: Twisted Root Studios
The following text is from the introduction to a book by the sister of Christopher McCandless, Carine McCandless. I have not read this yet, but will be soon and will definitely have a review here. The story of Christopher, Alaska, and his life changed mine as he is the reason I first visited Alaska in 2007.
- The video introduction is here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooHi1VpKXX0
- Stampede Trail hike with Carine McCandless – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMN52iJV3qY
Published on Oct 13, 2014
The spellbinding story of Chris McCandless, who gave away his savings, hitchhiked to Alaska, walked into the wilderness alone, and starved to death in 1992, fascinated not just New York Times bestselling author Jon Krakauer, but also the rest of the nation. Krakauer’s book,Into the Wild, became an international bestseller, translated into thirty-one languages, and Sean Penn’s inspirational film by the same name further skyrocketed Chris McCandless to global fame. But the real story of Chris’s life and his journey has not yet been told – until now. The missing pieces are finally revealed in The Wild Truth, written by Carine McCandless, Chris’s beloved and trusted sister. Featured in both the book and film, Carine has wrestled for more than twenty years with the legacy of her brother’s journey to self-discovery, and now tells her own story while filling in the blanks of his. Carine was Chris’s best friend, the person with whom he had the closest bond, and who witnessed firsthand the dysfunctional and violent family dynamic that made Chris willing to embrace the harsh wilderness of Alaska. Growing up in the same troubled household, Carine speaks candidly about the deeper reality of life in the McCandless family. In the many years since the tragedy of Chris’s death, Carine has searched for some kind of redemption. In this touching and deeply personal memoir, she reveals how she has learned that real redemption can only come from speaking the truth.
To learn more, visit www.carinemccandless.com.
At long last, I have been in the presence of an actual Jackson Pollock painting. In Denver, CO, I was surprised by Patricia with an exhibit titled “Modern Masters” at the Denver Art Museum. I did not know there was one on display, and my attempts to find out more form her were cleverly thwarted.
We received our tickets and headed to the entrance. Before getting to the special exhibit, there was three paintings from the American West by Thomas Hart Benton. Knowing that Jackson Pollock studied under Benton, I said to Patricia “How can you have Bentons’ but no Pollocks’ on display”? A little further on, my question was answered when a black and white photo of Jackson in his studio was on the wall. I knew then a dream of mine had finally come true.
To appreciate Pollock’s most famous pieces, you should see it in person as they are large and require a wall to themselves. Convergence measures 93.5 inches in height and 155 inches in width, one of the largest he painted, and is a massive display of lines, colors, shapes, and emotions. I had to sit for 20 minutes to take it all in and see the many layers, time that passed, and the universe that began to emerge. In some parts, I saw a galaxy or nebulae staring back at me. Overwhelmed is the only word to describe how I felt inside. The emotion and intensity of this washed over me. It was a privilege to sit before this and imagine his large hands holding cans of paint and brush, throwing and dripping colors as he worked his way around the canvas, giving us a glimpse of the universe in his mind.
Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956) opted for an early exit from high school in California to study with Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League of New York. After gleaning what appealed to him from the Regionalists, Mexican muralists, and Surrealists, Pollock worked for the Federal Art Project from 1938 to 1942. By the mid-1940s Pollock was painting in a wholly abstract manner, and in 1947 he arrived at the drip and splash style with which he is most often associated. Affixing canvases to a wall, the floor, or the ground if painting outdoors, Pollock dripped and poured commercial house paint from cans and arranged it using sticks, trowels, or knives, sometimes augmenting it with sand, broken glass, or foreign matter, as Pollock stated it. He placed great import on being able to walk around such paintings and work on them from all four sides. Such action painting, opined artists and critics, expressed or revealed the unconscious moods of the artist. Pollock’s drip paintings, as Willem de Kooning said, broke the ice for the Abstract Expressionists who followed Pollock.
I first learned of Rameses B while browsing Indiegogo for music and film projects. After listening to a sample track, I knew this was the music I needed to contribute to and support. The result of this campaign is the album “Reborn“, and it was worth the wait.
The layers of multiple instruments present here, complement each other and provide texture that you can see and feel. The music becomes an object you can reach, touch, and hold. With so many sounds pulling at different emotions, I found it best to let go, and allow this masterpiece to carry me away to places beyond here, to another world where what I was or thought I was, turned inside out.
A few of these songs reminded me of Kaskade (“Fire and Ice”) and Nero (“Welcome to Reality”), and that is a complement. I like this type of electronic music, a soundscape, that does not try to overwhelm with fast beats, changes in pace, or so much synthesizer or computer generated noise, that whatever message or voice exists is lost. This music is sensual and washes over you. There is a voice in there and it has room to breath, it leaves room for the listener to find it.
There are snippets of spoken words on just about every track that are used to carry the story. I did not find them intrusive or to be telling me what to feel or see. I think they served the purpose of a guide, with infinite paths for the listener to find their own way. The path I found is detailed for each track below.
1. Years From Now
This includes voice-overs such as “Do you believe in fairy tales?”, “Something wonderful”, and “Years from now”. Are you afraid of something, of yourself, what you might find within? Years from now, will you look back and not recognize the person you were then? Will you remember any part of me?
With faint echoes of animal calls and whistling, the sun is just rising. We get a first look at ourselves.
3. Earth Calls
Sounds of the earth become the focus as we enter a valley, we see things differently and everything has changed. Or are we beginning to change?
4. Through The Mist
The valley is filled with mist and the mist has a voice, muted and murky, reaching out.
5. Left Behind
What do we leave behind, when we are reborn? That part of ourselves that we do not need, that no longer works for us?
6. Spirit Walk
This track starts off with simple beats and is somewhat distant, and then builds as the spirit begins to walk, the spirit asks for one more chance to be reborn.
Adds a bit more bass and vocals, with chanting in the background.
Light finds its way through the mist, a light that is continuously regenerated from each and every star. Going deep, letting go of yourself, to be reborn as the being you are supposed to be.
The real world and the symbols we associate with reality in our mind is a function of our state of being. Through being reborn, we take back control of our life, of our reality.
We are reborn, we have found the path filled with symbols of this life and others, and it is time to return home. But, what is home? Is it a physical place? Does it exist here at our feet, around the corner, or across town or seas? Is home above, beyond the stars, toward that warm light washing over?
11. The Next Chapter
What happens next? Where do we go from here? What life lies ahead?
In addition to Reborn, I have listened to the following albums:
- Inspire (EP)
- Memoirs (EP)
- Observe & Imitate
- Pure (EP)
- Revival (EP)
- Russ (EP)
More information about Rameses B can be found here:
Review of Candidates for sainthood and other sinners, by Don Cellini
Spanish translation by Fer de la Cruz.
Publisher: Mayapple Press 2013
The title of Don Cellini’s poetry collection really sets the tone for what is inside. Don presents everyday scenes of real people with real problems and how they cope, and sometimes just get by. Nothing is glorified and nothing is exaggerated. We are witness to what is happening on the streets, and from that we are allowed to form our own opinion, and perhaps take a side regarding who we consider the saints to be and who we consider the sinners to be. Part of the powerful imagery is accomplished by the landscape and background being given a voice and a part to play.
– It was chilly and I awoke before
– Haitian mothers use their hands
– All he asked for was a ride home.
A poem about violence, which contained the most powerful lines in this book: “The stars closed their eyes”, and “… and the moon had to turn away.”
This is a follow-up to my previous post about the book “Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi”. This book is edited and translated by Taigen Dan Leighton and Yi Wu.
I would consider this a classic Zen text and one every practitioner, from beginnings to masters should have. Included are Hongzhi’s practice instructions for sitting meditation, also called silent illumination or zazen (just sitting). Being in the Japanese Soto Zen tradition, the focus is not to concentrate on an object, but on silence and clearing thoughts. It is key to acknowledge a thought and let it go, giving the thoughts and objects a moment, before they move to the past, clearing a way to move forward.
The concept of the empty field is equivalent to the mind, and the thoughts that get in our way to live the life we desire are objects and overgrowth on that field. We must clear and cultivate the field.
Hongzhi’s language is clear and powerful and always with the goal of finding peace and your reality, not what others would like you to have. We each have a field and in that field is a bright luminous light, and that field is within. Our reality is within, and so are the answers we seek.
I continue to read and re-read this book and each time it makes more sense. I am able to incorporate more of the practice, tailor it to what works for me, and move forward with a more empty field, and further into a true reality. This book is a guide for finding that path.
The one single book that has helped me to focus, let go, and where to find the answers is “Cultivating the Empty Field” by Zen Master Hongzhi. This was recommended years ago by Hanakia Zedek, and along with his friendship, has truly been life changing.
In the fall of 2015, a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and based on the book “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer will be released.
I have been a fan of Krakauer’s books since reading “Into the Wild” about Christopher McCandless. I have posted quite a bit about the story, the assumed motivations of Chris’ actions, and the spiritual impact it had on myself. It is one of the reasons I have become obsessed with Alaska and will one day visit “the bus”.
More information and an interview with Jake is here: http://www.biographile.com/science-and-spirit-jake-gyllenhaal-meets-jon-krakauers-everest-story/29970/