With a dizzying sense of dislocation, light removes us from our tactile experience and we become transfixed on the sky above. The muted atmospheric reflections and spectral light around the edges of our perception beg our questions and attention as they convey the mysteries of our atmosphere…they electrify the experience of flight…and again, we forget where our feet are as we enjoy the view.
[A Retrospective] Often times what we perceive as grand, whether great in size or some more intangible sense of stature, lose their grandeur when our perspective changes. Those changes come with distance, expressed in time or space, and the objects of our attention become visually dwarfed or spiritually stunted as we move further away from their shadows. As we take to the air, escaping earthly shadows, we gain a new perspective.
Substance matters. High above the shadow of Angel’s Landing and Zion National Park, though dwarfed in size, it’s greatness can still be imagined. It draws us in. We seek to explore and long to experience the summit, the elevated perspective, the majesty. Our diorama-like view is the beginning of this experience sparked by curiosity and fueled by color, contour, and the tactile sensation of the climb…our spiritual journey begins.
The shadows cast by man, in contrast, are temporal and insignificant. Our delusions of grandeur are laid bare when we weigh our shadows and realize that without substance, our presence is mere illusion. Time and space divide us and we fade away, while Earth and all her monuments remain a testimony to what has come before and what will follow. The real gifts are not apparent in what we see, but in how we see…curiosity and imagination…spark and fuel…memory and projection. These gifts are our substance and differentiation.
[A Retrospective] With the opening line, “I was born in the belly of the deep and rocked on the crest of a wave…” our imaginations draw graphic images of life born from the storm tossed seas, as the words convey a profound connection between our souls and the oceans. The same relationship exists in the heavens that float above the earth, an invisible and illimitable sea. In this region of our world the concepts of flat and round are constantly challenged as every perceived plane bends toward the horizon. Imagining waves of stone as the stepped planes of the Navajo back country curl and crest into the fribbling sandstone froth of the Adeeii Eechii Cliffs, crashing upon the flat sandy floor of the Arizona desert below. With the perspective of our altitude and circular path around the planet, our world bends and animates, evoking emotion and imagination and connecting our souls to this magical place as earth, sea, and sky flow together as one reality.
[A Retrospective] Rising from the haze of a humid dusty afternoon, a rootless apparition appears on the horizon…it’s apparent serenity encourages an ambiguous sense of calm wonderment belying the danger hidden beneath the stone facade of this active volcano. We marvel at the spectacles of our natural world while underestimating the forces that shape them…like all forces, there is a balance and we define our existence by how closely we walk the way that divides creation and destruction…perhaps our sense of wonder is drawn from our sense of precariousness and the limits of our ability to effect the tides or the passage of time.
[A Retrospective] I neither play an instrument nor do I compose music, but that is where the wonder begins…as I listen to the even tempo of a guitar walking along, as though following a level plain, suddenly dip into a jagged storytelling tune that illuminates a rapidly appearing chasm, simultaneously dividing and uniting us…I wonder at the mastery of the composer who can stimulate our visual sense with a sound, drawing a landscape in the listener’s mind, revealing a world unseen, while leading us through the wilderness, together. As in flight, we observe the vastness of a world that fills the spaces in between us, simultaneously dividing and uniting us…we travel a great wilderness and fill our heads with memories of the great wide open that occupies that space and touches each of us…our world revealed and our souls connected.
[A Retrospective] Lifting the shades on a new day, we look out on the morning unable to determine if our view is the result of our bleary eyes or our inability to comprehend the nexus between night and day…indistinct, colors emerge from ether, indigo displaced as spectral light creeps across the landscape. A moment of abstract reality before the dream of a material world emerges in stark detail beneath a morning sky.
[A Retrospective] The reality of a living planet is one of constant change…the features of her earthly face rise and fall with the ebb and flow of tides, redistributing the foundations of mountains to create new ocean floors or to color a sunset. Nothing vanishes, everything remains…reduced to the elemental pieces that define our world, these particles float on the breeze or drift on the sea where they fill our world with color and texture; they fuel our imaginations so that we may see earthen flames on a frozen landscape.
[A Retrospective] The late day sun, streaming rays of light through vaporous air, obscured by the rising tide of of water that it has conjured with its radiation sends a repeated message to travelers along the way…The strength of a Spirit may be measured by the strength of the light that remains after the source has vanished from our sight.
[A Retrospective] Protect our wild places for they are the untamed legacy of earth’s spirit and provide our tangible connection to the way of the universe of which we are the tiniest part…constantly in motion, living and breathing, evolving, balancing between creation and entropy…our past and our future.
[A retrospective] Two of my favorite words, for love of the concepts and implications, are “circuitous” and “serendipity.” Perhaps, as my old squadron mates might say, they are twenty-five cent words, but they are connected, meaningful, and especially relevant to our lives among the clouds…We follow a meandering path, adjusting for the airborne currents and blowing gales as we challenge gravity and Coriolis forces. Just as a river twists through the high desert seeking its way to the sea, following a circuitous path as it etches it’s story upon the earth, with each turn a new experience is engrained upon our consciousness as though simultaneously by chance and by fate…the force of serendipity. In these sublime moments, we chance to encounter beauty and we flow through it as if we were meant to be a part of it.