[A Retrospective] A gentle mist drifts down from the heavens, hidden from the light of day, the falling particles of water vapor change the local temperature in this pocket of the atmosphere…as the heat continues to rise, escaping the earth, adding latent energy within the clouds, vapor and turbulence continue to rise…eventually, as the weight of water becomes too great, our mist turns to rapidly intensifying showers of harder and harder droplets of water…a dangerous torrent of rain, falling upon the landscape, carving out harsh edges and molding the earth in its path…the once lofty plains are eroded and cut as the force of water seeks the sea…when all is settled and the rains have subsided, we are left with a fractured landscape, the underlying beauty revealed along its deep crags and gullies…the power of a few drops of water on display for eternity. Little things matter.
[A Retrospective] As we witness the scene unfold, the trending motion of the weather over the landscape is indisputable…But somewhere in the fluid swirl of memory, we co-opt the forces of nature to satisfy the needs of our narrative…Seeking either drama or solace, the imagined building or dissipating motion of clouds provides fodder for our subconscious creation and our stories are etched in still frames of certainty.
Ever look to the heavens, watching a jet move smoothly through the fluid of our atmosphere, and wonder at the miraculous journey we have made from the daring test flights of a glider in the sand dunes of North Carolina to the routine experience of boarding a jet to take us across the continent at eight miles a minute? I think about this every day…I feel a profound sense of wonder at it all as I sit at my window and watch the earth and clouds roll by…In a little over a hundred years, we have made the impossible dream into a reality that we now unquestioningly accept as routine…When weather causes delays, we grow frustrated and anxious as we are forced by nature to allow our world to slow down. In that deceleration, there are opportunities…to breath, to catch up with old friends we have met along the way, to discuss the important unhurried things, to reflect on where we have been and where we are going, and to wonder at the miracle of it all…and in those moments when the storm dissipates and light again fills the sky, we may forget that our feet are momentarily bound to the earth as we marvel at a jet moving gracefully through a painted sky. So when you find yourself sitting around the airport terminal waiting on the weather, once it has passed, take a breath, look out the window, and take a moment to wonder at the spectacle of it all.
[A Retrospective] When discordant noises dominate the earth, deafening all ears…We seek an escape in the heavens…Rising above the cacophony, the painful din, we reach the space where the noise falls away like forgotten shadows, washed away by the brilliance of the dawn…Here, amid the silence and the deafening light, we listen again and our senses delight.
[A Retrospective] A simple notion of an illuminated path…As we navigate the darkest turmoil and assume great risk, rewards may lie hidden beneath the surface of the worst of our experience and reveal the beauty inherent in the brighter parts of our nature.
[A Retrospective] Imagination is discriminating and not everyone is prepared to let their minds wander…but when we do, we make connections between what we see or experience and what was or what might be. I have passed these washes many times, but today, these streaks of painted earth spoke to me. I reacted with an inward look and dreamed of what the earth might be saying… “All of this is temporary and with each breath I take, I accept that everything must change…” We see the signs on the landscape…Rising weather and turbulent skies, rising pressure and quaking landscape, rising temperatures and flowing ice, falling rain and crumbling stone…Imagine what you will. She weeps, though not for change, for the thought of not being considered.
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.