Sunday, January 28, 2018

Kaleidoscope of Sensual Surprises

Life is a kaleidoscope of sensual surprises.  During travel, I leave familiar surroundings to engage in the unknown and see with fresh eyes, hear with new ears, and think new thoughts. All the while being mesmerized and awed by little revelations. Yet even without going anywhere, the kaleidoscope of patterns, sights, sounds, tastes and smells is always turning; a bite of cold wind across the face, coming indoors to fragrant aromas of cooking foods, hearing the song of a strange bird for the first time, a fabulous sunset or sunrise.

A surprise can be simple and appear like a gift from an unseen hand. I have deep windowsills at home. In my bedroom I placed a model of a sailing ship on a window ledge. Recently, before taking a nap after lunch, I pulled the curtains closed. After rising, I went to the curtains and saw the ships shadows cast upon the fabric. It captured my imagination and I went and got my camera. The rippling folds of cloth were like ocean waves that took my vessel into an etheric sea. Why did I notice it? The winter light and angle of the sun made the picture come to life. Also, I was willing to see . . . because if my emotions and thoughts had been obscuring my perceptions, the little shadow theater would have had no attraction. I had seen it before. Now the elements lined up to capture my senses and I was ready.
I like happy accidents and am open to experiencing them during my creative process. Recently, during my month sojourn in Venice, Italy, I fell into a hobby of making photographs of people taking “selfies.” World famous Rialto Bridge was just minutes from my flat. Everyday, thousands of selfies are made there. So whenever I was passing over the bridge, 2 or 3 times a day, I would linger to photograph. Once, I spotted two fellows making a portrait, and surreptitiously became involved with my camera. Just as they were composing, I shot my picture from behind, capturing the subject’s face through the triangle of arm, shoulder and head of the picture taker.

Because I am creative, poems arise from what is garbage to others. One day I was walking on the stone sidewalks of Cuenca, Ecuador. I often look down at the patterns and crevices of the walkways as I sojourn. Something stopped me. A picture had fallen face up onto the grimy patterned  stonework. It was a family portrait of a boy. I noticed how the smiling, lovely face was vulnerable on the dirty sidewalk where it would be stepped on. Why did the scene attract me to take a photograph? Most people would ignore it. I found the incongruity evoked pathos in me. I reflected upon what happens to people in life. The purity of their beginnings fall to earth. At early stages innocence suffers degradation, injury, abandonment, death. Yet the smile and light is in the picture.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Unity Of Existence

In pure moments of being, I perceive behind the veil of the material world in the realm of non-duality, or oneness. Here, love reigns supreme. Unity rules the real existence.

During periods of high creativity, I am able to let go of selfishness so as to merge completely and seamlessly with the whole. While painting, time vanishes, the joy of process takes over, and as the picture takes shape, surprises occur as if I am not in control at all. The best photography occurs when I lose everything that is a barrier between me and the subject. In writing, ego must fall, so that I am not writing with an eye to myself; rather the process unfolds on its own.

When meeting anyone new, I love being in this space of oneness. As if to say, “I have no judgement of you, we come from the same dust, created by the same Hand. I remember you—a friend from before this existence. We met on the shores of dawn.” Thus, I can look in the face of a foreigner and see a fellow being I have known all my life.
A king is my brother, same as a pauper. A person of a different color, with different features and dress—no matter, I combine just as well with them as with one of my own kind.

There are limitations. My body is not so quick to lose itself. It has adapted in certain environments. It has learned to be friendly with some elements and not friendly with others. Experience says it does not like hot, humid jungles. It reacts violently to some contamination in water in foreign lands that those people are immune to (India) . It is repelled by certain foods that other people eat—such as spiders (Cambodia). I can’t help that.

I have been in all these situations and appreciate them as part of the fabric of life. Behind all is the unity of existence.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Along The Way

We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.    -Albert Einstein

I have been home for two weeks now, and the sights and sounds of the previous two months continue to reverberate in my being. The photographs I took, the paintings and writings, all testify to my soul journey.

This blog is over ten years old now, with 582 posts to date. It is a book—a record with photos.

So many experiences in life are bound to be buried. Little surprises that happened along the way come to life with pictures or writing.

Like this. I was walking in Paris on the left bank, heading back to my hotel in Saint-Germaine. I came to a woman in a wheelchair, surrounded by pigeons she was feeding. It was cold, and she was wearing tennis shoes. An oversized beige beret sat on her head. When our gaze met, she smiled warmly with light in her eyes. I wondered about her life and circumstances, and asked to take her picture. She had no pretensions and to my surprise spoke fluent English. “I love speaking English,” she said. We chatted some small talk, then I took her picture. I noted that she was not begging, but imperturbably living on the street, taking care of pigeons in the midst of the flowing crowds around her.

I have close to two thousand pictures from my last sojourn—from Washington DC to Paris, on to Venice for a month, then Egypt for three weeks.

Memories jump to life with pictures that add "a thousand words".

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Deep To My Soul

I am glad I had my paints, camera and pen along with me. Oh, and my laptop. Two pair of shoes was enough. So was two pair of pants, four shirts, socks and underwear. I used the umbrella in Venice a few times. Never wore the shorts and decided to leave them in Egypt.

Everything fit in a medium size suitcase and carry-on with wheels. I never needed anything more and came home without a pair of shoes I gave away, and also left shorts, and shirts behind. The special item I brought back is the Jellabiya, (man’s gown) that was made for me in Egypt.

Oh, the four paintings I sent from Italy and two from Egypt arrived safely by courier. No equipment damaged, over 1,800 photos safely stored, and some foreign money in my pocket for souvenir.
The damage that occurred was in my body when I took a flu medication in Luxor and it wreaked havoc on my urinary system which is already slowing down because it is over six decades old. I had to come home sooner than expected. That was the biggest of the problems that arrived. All part of THE DREAM.

Friendships and bonds deepened. With my brother Wade and his family in Washington DC, with Cristiana in Venice, Italy, Fred the hotelier in Paris, and my Egyptian brothers, Hagag and Abu’l Ezz in Luxor, Egypt along with their families.

Perhaps I left a footprint behind in the places I sojourned. A memory that I was there.  My friends remember me, and cried when I left them. They went deep to my soul as well.