This valley is filled with death.

Take a step back… how did I get here?

A few lifetimes ago, I came upon an ancient river
flowing through Babylon and I drank from the waters,
I drank so much that I fell into a deep sleep and just
woke up 37 years ago.

I am unsure what woke me. I want to believe it was myself,
that some core frozen primal energy unthawed and
completed its assigned task, reading from
the genetic code given in that moment
the infinite point exploded in nuclear plasma.

I kept some of the signatures.
I still have some of scars.

Flying through nothing.
Flying through a dark matrix
imbedded within the fabric of time.

Each body moves by sheer will –
through belief we move through.

Rain falls of course. This we know
from Newton and Einstein. Did they
know you can bend the rain to your will?

Did they see beyond the collective rain
and examine an individual drop and the
the story it contains, the fragment, a memory
of some lost experience erased from history?

I watch the rain stop, reverse, and flow upwards.
My gift back to heaven as I deny gluttony.

Death.

I fear not the process, the natural end of this time
here as I prepare for the next. I only fear the method
and I vow to meet it’s messenger on my
field with sword in hand beneath the white petals.

From atop this peak I see miles of
other peaks, tree lines, and death.

What does this look like?

Wavering, pliable, silent wisps of memories –
fuzzy moments you try to remember years after
they and the feeling past, looking back with numbness
indifference, as they got you here.

Death came swift at times, death came hard at times
as the battle waged for years with some of the demons
entrenched in cement in the uncultivated field.

I look from this peak over the false beings within
that I conquered.

Constant waves forming at a great distance
make their journey to all of the shorelines
never tiring, never stopping, like
questions that plague the mind, like
the constant flow of energy within and without.

The waves color, their shape,
from a painting of lands lost
to natures power, of an ancient time
when the spirit’s energy manifested
in lost colors, from the grand
artist’s palette.

How old are the stones
deposited upon the shoreline
with each advance and retreat?

Seagulls soar overhead and
I retreat within to see a different landscape
fitting of thousands and millions of years ago.

I know a spirit envelopes everything I see,
feel, smell, and have become aware of.

It does not matter what name you have
for this energy, how it is manifested for
your beliefs.

Lake Superior while a large body of freshwater, is dependent on other sources to keep a sustainable level. If the rivers that drain here do not have enough snow melt at higher elevations, and if the usage from resorts, cabins, homes, is consistent or increases, over time the level is going to drop noticeably. Soon, artifacts from shipwrecks and ancient people will litter an increased shoreline. If the climate continues to change in patterns with higher temperatures and more extremes, and if we are unable to adapt quickly enough, this inland sea may disappear.

This makes sense to me, and is concerning as I watch the sunrise through a fog laced Sunday morning and nothing but calm and peace overlays the chaos within.

I try and think of not thinking and allow the layer to seep further into unseen depths, but it is blocked by more questions that I formulate while sitting by the window overlooking a staircase leading to the sandy beach.

I now see the contradiction and struggle of capitalism and environment, and the need for more revenue, in this economic crisis. While the water level and purity of Lake Superior are critical, so is the revenue for the city and county, and the continued trickling upwards.

Money can buy almost anything, and in these hard times it can buy everything. If a hold was placed on building additional structures around the lake, and limiting the amount of water that can be drawn from its source, cash-strapped cities would be willing to bend and look the other way, if enough money was offered. It can be justified, and the self is placated, to say that we are working on solutions in the long-term.

In the scenario, the cycle is continued and intensified. The environment is further damaged and sacrificed, but not yet quite in obvious ways to the untrained eye. However, there is a limit to natural resources, and over time, the lake will give in and leave this land, lowering the values of existing properties, decreasing demand for a piece of this land, further reducing the revenue for the city and county.

Where does it end?

Photo from Patricia of Twisted Root Studios

Dreams: Path or Reality

What will it take to trust this path? How many more years will I take the steps carefully, always watchful, before I finally give in and trust, not only this direction, but more importantly, myself?

Dreams far beyond my physical reach are an integral part of each day. I have read many adventure and outdoor books about expeditions to every corner of this world, but what captivates my attention more than anything, are snow covered peaks – above tree-lines with a reduced level of oxygen dotting the globe and touching heaven, while overlooking snow filled valleys and glaciers.

Reinhold Messner  is a fascinating character and legend in mountain climbing with a few records in his honor, and many firsts (first to summit all fourteen 8000 meter peaks, and the first to climb Mt Everest solo without oxygen). He has written extensively about these almost unbelievable feats and the accompanying visions in several books: in very poetic language filled with images and brutal honesty, each step taken on the way to summit Mt. Everest is told with amazing detail and candor in “The Crystal Horizon”. What Reinhold accomplishes is for him, as he pushes through many obstacles, but with the goal and dream within his reach, he will do whatever it takes to reach them.

Lofty goals and dreams are vital to the human spirit, as they grant us a sense of purpose and when we find ourselves stuck and mired with emotional baggage and the weight of the life we are living at that moment, they give a reasons to get up each day. We have more energy and a clearer head to face the oncoming events, regardless of what happened to get us to that moment.

At some point, the dreams and all the energy they require and consume, will have to be released in one of two ways: 1) in the direction that pushes the dreamer into a new reality, or 2) pushes dreams into the minds archive to redefine the current reality.

I dream to summit a couple of the highest peaks – Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Rainier, Mt Kilimanjaro – but I recently let go of my dream to scale Mt Everest physically. That has not dampened any of my spirit, and I am still jazzed by real stories and people setting off on an expedition, and intrigued by the brutal environment, mystery, and tragedy. By letting this one go, it has allowed me to refocus and move the energy elsewhere, into other dreams and projects.

At this moment I hear, see, and feel the distant traffic as a rushing, swollen, and murky Alaskan river.

As years pass and I become more aware of my true passions, I have to keep in mind the reality I have already chosen, stemming from my decisions and experience. I have no energy left for some paths. They have become dead-ends after transforming and merging with other dreams. Besides learning about Reinhold Messner, I have taken the formed images from my mind and created pieces and essays about the spiritual and mythical landscapes surrounding mountain peaks, here and elsewhere. If I cannot get to them, I will bring them to me.

There is something spiritual about winter in general, and snow and cold specifically. The air is singular, full of meaning, simple, known, with no mysteries or things hiding – just answers and questions to the questions and answers that you already have. The suns light is magnified and blinding, and we retreat inward for warmth. The challenge is opening yourself up, and becoming ready what waits.

Winter is the season of awareness as we become more dependent on what we carry, the tools and resources we are born with and have been developing. From this space of knowing we can manage what is outside of us.

Late in the evening and what was a struggle to write, and the intention of this essay, has become a bit of soul searching about dreams and the path created and the path taken. While listening to Alva Noto, I let myself slip away so I may get out of my own way, and allow an honest assessment of my actions, thoughts, inward and outward energy and the place within this.

Dreams are an integral part of growing spiritually as an individual and within a community. What is a community in this context? A community consists of other things, people, in a person’s sphere of influence; obviously family and parents are included, but also people we may meet at the grocery store, in the coffee line at Starbucks, or in passing on a freeway. The more interaction of two bodies, no matter the distance, the more they will exert some influence on each other. So, our dreams and the energy we expend affects ourselves and the community; a neighborhood, city, state, country, global, or the universe as a whole, this and others we have not seen yet.

Alva Noto becomes BioSphere and I trace contoured lines on a map of Alaska and concentrate on lands north of the Arctic Circle. This dream of years ago became reality and changed the path I walk forever. Not a day goes by that I do not feel the land, or taste the sea.

Find, define, and chase the dreams you can and they become passions for life, forever altering your reality and existence. The dreams we cannot or choose to not pursue blend with this reality and provide creative juice and an opportunity to learn more, expand our consciousness, and then they will come to life through thoughts and writings.

The perfect saying here, for writers and the way to improve our work, is to write what you know. Even if a piece is fiction, knowledge of your subject matter, real landscapes, for example, add authenticity to writing and credibility to the writer. Your audience can taste the dirt, feel the salt water burning open eyes, or see the glorious setting sun from across the sea.

Reading an unrelated news article, and a photo of a mountain catches my wandering eye. I am quickly taken from here, beyond the city of industry, and transplanted upon its peak, and given an opportunity to experience one of nature’s gifts.  It has taken me some time to be at peace with having to let one dream go, but with this open mindedness, and self-awareness, another has quickly taken its place.

In the end, each person’s reality is defined by choices, experience, dreams, passions, and learning to balance all of these, and make the life that works for us, within the community we have chosen to live within.

A place exists tucked into tall pine trees
reaching toward the empty
sky filled with Nothing.

Yielding the search for everything
I found what I was looking for.

I do not fully understand
the magic slipping through
exposed fingers and I
question why it took so long to get here,
why so many roadblocks of various
origins, and where was my strength
and resolve to clear this field.

Not so empty the mind’s field
is vast and luminous as my experience
is growing and the net of awareness I
cast years ago is finally being pulled
aboard this vessel I sail the
seven seas within.

As captain I christened this
vessel “reality” and vow to
survive the upcoming storm
on my terms, with things I carry.

Sleep has returned.

I see the tree roots vibration
and with eyes closed I feel
them overtaking my body
and I return to solitude.

Soaring clouds of orange and purple
streaking across the limited view I have from here.

Yet I feel their motion.

I feel their strength.

And in that strength I see them
moving beyond their origin
yet retaining their roots
their source.

In the beginning of each story
faith is instilled and the truth is prolonged
until you are in so deep you have
no choice but to believe and continue.

I see this.

I feel the awareness reaching out into
the environment and coming back.

Still there are things beyond my place
spilling from my open fist
and speeding across the sky
that I feel a connection to
even though I have not seen their origin
yet.

The sky burns
and in the aftermath
we sift through the ashes
looking for a memory
a hint, an answer.
We sift through ourselves.

To emerge on the other side of
boundaries seen and not seen
brings me one step closer to
the energy spewing forth these clouds.