Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gushing Water

"Little Church At Ojo Caliente" oil on linen, 9 x 12 inches
“I wonder how long this water has been pouring out of the ground . . . probably hundreds of years.” Heidi Of The Mountains mouth dropped open as we soaked in the hot springs near the gushing water. “How do you know that?”

We had arrived at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs in the late afternoon, after I had completed a painting of an old adobe church nearby. It seemed incredible that the gift of mineral water, hot enough to soak in, had been pouring 100,000 gallons a day out of the earth for centuries. “Well,” I said, “Before this spa existed, Native Americans dwelled here and used the water . . . the history goes back centuries.”

Four different types of mineral waters: lithium, iron, soda and arsenic, continually stream to the surface, revitalizing the many who come here to soak. I first visited about thirty years ago, when the place was a sleepy, rundown resort, mostly used by locals. Not only did I soak in the primitive pools in need of repair, but also drank the four types of mineral water. Since then, the place has been substantially upgraded, and now, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Spa is an international destination.

After we finished our soaking, and I had swam in the outdoor, spring fed pool, we were walking to the car in the brisk autumn air, and I asked Heidi if she had drank any of the water. “No” she replied. “The Lithia water would be good for you, since sometimes you get anxiety attacks.” I was half kidding her, because she is a hyper energetic type of person and I remembered how when I drank the water, it made me feel calmed; although the soaks in hot mineral water does that too.

In truth, studies have shown that: 
  1. Individuals with heart disease, learning disabilities, and incarcerated violent criminals were found to have lithium deficiencies (as measured through hair sample analysis).
  2. Research studies measuring the effects of trace levels of lithium, commonly found in lithia waters, have demonstrated neuroprotective abilities, improvements in mood and cognitive function, and positive outcomes as a treatment for manic-depressive disease.
  3. Research studies published the British Journal of Psychiatry 2009 found that communities with naturally occurring lithia waters have lower suicide rates, mental hospital admissions, incidences of crimes, and arrests related to drug addictions.
  4. On February 8, 2011, German researchers at Friedrich Schiller University Jena published their findings in the European Journal of Nutrition (Nature Publishing Group) indicating that lithia waters lead to an increased life expectancy in humans and metazoans.
  5. A clinical pilot study using ĔDJ lithia water from British Columbia is underway at the University of British Columbia. It will investigate whether daily use of lithia water will improve new brain cell formation (neurogenesis) and reduce neuronal oxidative stress.
For the entire lithia water article : wiki/Lithia_water

Sunday, October 21, 2012

True Currency

I believe experience is the true currency. And among experiences, the practice of virtue is of the highest value. Money cannot hold memory, cannot inform or teach, and although it represents happiness to most people, essentially, it is inert and without life.

Four years ago, exactly this time of year, I lived on a houseboat in Kashmir, India (see my blog, My Astonished Eyes.) My floating world was Dal Lake, at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains. Water lilies drifted all around, and my houseboat was very comfortable with hand carved wood decoration throughout. I met local people who came to visit me and sell their crafts, and my servant Mansoor would paddle me to the nearby town of Srinagar.

Perhaps, a financial analyst would have advised me to keep my savings intact and not spend the way I was spending then—traveling around the world. The USA economy had begun a freefall and my savings were falling like most everyone else’s.  Yet, I was hungry to experience life in all its facets.

At the time, I called my existence and traveling THE DREAM. Along the way, I made paintings, took photographs and wrote. My bankroll was diminishing, but my inner treasury was growing rich with vivid life experience. Going forward without fear, I trusted that since I am DREAMING, a bigger hand controls destiny, and furthermore, scenes change—including scenes of birth and death, but EXISTENCE in THE DREAM only transforms—never ends.

Someday, THE DREAM will unfold my death. I believe I will witness this occurrence and then, step onto a different stage to continue to be in awe of how fantastic and inspired is the universe and its Creator.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Sky Above, The Earth Below

The sky above, the earth below. So is human existence given reference and meaning by nature.

The sky represents limitless possibility, spirituality, constant change, and by the succession of light and darkness—advancement, retrograde, and the struggle for progress. The earth represents nature, sustenance, and the cycle of life and death.

How potent is the combination of earth and sky! In between is a horizon where the two meet.

Two days ago, the autumn winds blew chilly air over Santa Fe, and marked the end of summer. The skies grew dark with clouds and hail fell down with a rat-a-tat-tat sound. My gallery closed at five o'clock, and I knew by the battle going on above, with glinting light darting down through the moving holes in the clashing clouds, that I must find a place to watch and photograph the drama unfold. I asked Heidi Of The Mountains if she wanted to go with me, but she declined and said she would meet me at a friend’s house on the outskirts of town where we are house sitting.

I drove to a park that overlooks Santa Fe, and walked in the cold, blowing rain. Not a soul was around as I looked toward the sun, blocked by clouds in the west—but the view was a grey one. Nevertheless, I knew the potential existed for a fantastic sight because everything was changing rapidly. Cold, I got in my car and began driving to the house.

When I reached a two-lane highway going out of town, the sky was changing drastically. The setting sun was shooting rays of light low on the horizon and an ethereal color permeated the pregnant air. When I saw a rainbow, I pulled over to find a vantage point to capture it. I climbed a hill, but was stopped by a barbed-wire fence. Looking behind in the opposite direction I saw the plains and mountains veiled in supernal light. By now my artistic soul was completely enamored and excited. I had to find the perfect vantage to take pictures, even though I had no coat and was wet and shivering. Then my cell phone rang with Heidi complaining she was lost. I was only partly hearing her because my attention was focused on the sunset. Frustrated, she shouted in exasperation. I was torn, because the grand moment was about to disappear. I tried giving her instructions that she barely understood, and hung up. Turning once again to the drama unfolding, to my dismay, just then my camera battery gave out! Heidi called again, and I began driving back toward town to meet her. Along the way, I saw one of the most fantastic sunsets I have ever witnessed, and felt awe but also was chagrined that I could not photograph.
When it was all over and we safely arrived in the dark at the house on a mountainside, I felt something special had occurred, and while I “captured” some of it, the wild performance of earth and sky let me play along but could never agree to stop and wait.

Click to see more artistic photography.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Each Moment A Gift

There is a beach on Kauai that is my favorite swimming spot in the world. It is Lumahei beach—the same cove where the famous movie South Pacific was filmed. Recently, when Heidi Of The Mountains and I arrived, I went right in to the waves and began swimming. On a short ledge nearby, a middle-aged couple were jumping from the rocks into the water, and then clambering out to do it again. I had the thought “Have fun you two, because you will die soon!” Immediately, I wondered about my thinking . . . then decided against judgment, because in fact it is the truth. It is the truth for all sentient beings that life is short. Compared to the lifespan of mighty Sequoia trees that live over 2000 years, we live briefly, but compared to the age of twinkling stars in heaven, or the galaxies beyond, it is less than the time it takes for ray of light to glisten on a crashing wave.

Count each moment a gift because life is fleeting. Rejoice, because death will arrive sooner than later . . . so, like the couple on the rocks, jump joyfully into the swirling, limitless ocean—and swim.