Traveling along our way across the earth as though following the sound of ethereal echoes to navigate the night sea…eyes closed, correcting course with each interpretation of shifting Doppler wave, each whispered word of calling on the wind. Focused on the sounds that guide us, blind to the hazards that confront us, we cruise and we rejoice in the singular moments of inspiration that grace us when we open our eyes.
As we negotiate the threats that fill our days, at times, we are so focused on the complicated contours of the landscape that we overlook the minutiae…And suddenly our attentions are drawn out of the rocks and into the blue depths of a placid mountain pool…On the most common of mornings, the brilliant, the electric, and the incongruous bring life and excitement into our lives if we are ready to be surprised.
The summit of Mount Rainier appears through a layer of haze as though floating in a textureless sea of blue…so much more unseen than seen…Immovable forces often seem to materialize before us, though they are ever present. Whether in the haze of hubris or complacency, light bends around them until, by force majeur, we are thrown into the arena where we are obliged to recon with the realities of our world.
You know who you are. You’ve launched at dawn. You’ve danced on a wing in the glow of the morning light. You’ve peered through the colored haze searching for landmarks to lead you home. You’ve dealt with ambiguity and kept the shiny side up. You’ve looked into this dreamscape and felt like you’ve come home. This is where we started and where we often return in our reverie.
Our earthly monuments stand regardless of whether we are out there to see them. Dream with me a little while and we’ll find ourselves back out there on the horizon.
At times, the twists and turns that lie ahead are masked by fog, disorienting us and leaving us uncertain of the best course to set…While the water vapor obscures our view, it defines the terrain around us, illuminating the irregular and imperfect hollows and valleys with its snowy white lines of joinery to create a wabi-sabi aesthetic greater than the solitary beauty of the mountains…in these moments we see the whole of this place and witness the interplay between earth, water, and air.
In the air we find excitement and a satisfaction of our wanderlust…we enjoy the gift of flight, drifting on the breeze as if man’s ability to fly were perfectly natural and routine… We have made it seem routine, but as it is the nexus between nature, art, and science, flight can be a magical and emotional experience when we pay attention to the details and revel in our movement through space. This is a tough time for people…uncertainty, illness, rational fears of infection…and yet, today I found inspiration. A young boy with wide eyes, a huge smile, and a glow in the dark dinosaur tee shirt approached me in the Memphis terminal exclaiming, “I’m going to get your autograph!” I squatted down to eye level as he began telling me about his trip, his family, his airplane logbook, his special shirt, his airplane, and his detailed observations of the airport. He told me that he was “this many,” holding up five fingers. He was electric. Every detail of the day excited him and he shared his wonder. As I had been focusing on washing my hands, distancing myself from strangers, and worrying about my disrupted flight schedule, my little friend brought the magic back to my experience, if only for a little while. This will continue to be a tough time and it will get tougher, but I’ll keep thinking of the joy and excitement of my young friend as I dream of our collective return to the sky. Be well.
We gather in iconic places for iconic views, but the view from the outside, the less iconic view, is every bit as spectacular. Many of us are staring at photos and dreaming of places to explore when apparent risks of travel abate, while others of us keep the skies open for business and gaze upon these sights, wishing we could share it with more of you. Be well and come back soon, we miss you.
In a swirl of rocks and color, we are lost in the details and complexities of our planet, our Earth, our world…as earth pushes mountains skyward and carves canyons out of river beds, we build bridges over rivers and highways across the skies…and when things seem to fall into entropic confusion, there is comfort in knowing that a rock garden lies beneath the horizon to captivate our imaginations, raked by wind and water, beautiful and elemental, awaiting a new perspective to recognize the enduring beauty of the natural order.
Out of the darkness and into the storm…we travel along the edge of chaos and negotiate the challenges that fate casts our way. We are never without storms…we see and avoid their flaring tempers in the night sky, but when we see them in the light of day, we better understand their movement and hazards, asserting control, we navigate toward calmer skies.
Earth and water tightly intertwined in salt flats and wetlands, neither yielding in their grasp of the other…the hydra hovering in a stop-action pose, dramatic and exaggerated. I keep coming back to this place in my mind…what at once appears static and elemental comes alive as we engage in our abstract perspective.
Ink lines accentuate the vague details of a shifting landscape…One may be unique and distinct, yet fade among the vagueness of an aerial landscape…unnoticed until highlighted by the interest of one who yearns to understand the earth in which we dwell. Marking up the landscape, we share the details that contribute to its unique character and art emerges from its depths.
The depths of the heavens balance our view of the depths of Earth…It’s humbling to reflect on the relative shallows of our perception, as we look upon the measureable vastness of a canyon and turn our heads skyward without a thought as to the infinite vastness of the heavens above.
Looking down on the textured divide, a flowing chasm separating two sides of similarly worn landscape, their colors and complexity resembling one another while taking on different forms…Divided by a rushing current or some subterranean upheaval…the worn faces of earth reveal the similarities that define them and transform the great divide into a small wrinkle or crag marking earth’s aging complexion.
Defined by lines in the recesses and along rising faces of earth…The abstraction etches itself on the terrain and begs us to trace its contours. Meanwhile, manmade lines of access roads and turbines float in a separate plane and we envision an invisible wind breezing across the topoglyph.
Wandering our way, we are surrounded by the unseen…then, in moments of clarity or reflection, the world around us materializes in unforeseen ways…balanced between light and shadow, negative space defines this world, illuminating and electrifying the singularity and leaving our senses reeling.
We stare and we stare, taking apart a scene and putting it back together, seeking to understand its how and why, imagining an earlier time and a different world, and painting a more vibrant image in our memories that discounts the distorted blue haze that dominates our view as we gaze through the atmosphere…Closer and closer, we focus on finite details and the very landscape itself seems to pixelate in individually defined blocks of earth and color…earth imitating art.
Looking down on the Gulf, I hear the beats of a drum in the shadows of clouds that punctuate the bronzed head of water…some strong and articulate, others faint and indistinct…out of balance, yet rhythmic, as though introducing symmetry would risk silencing the music…a chaotic tune emerges from the light and shadows and soon my head is filled with the soundless beats of jazz that carry me into the night.
Life can be perilous, especially when we act with arrogance and ignorance, without thought of precedent or consequence…As we pass along this way, it is incumbent upon us to seek the safe passage…to find the smoothest ride through a turbulent landscape…to ensure the security of those whose safety has been entrusted to us…A steady hand, comprehension of established rules, mastery of the ship, humility, and a willingness to accept the ideas of others who see things that are obscured from our vision can mitigate threats and lead us to an undramatic journey through troubled skies.
Opening our eyes to a new year, the world out of focus and unfamiliar, multicolored fresnels align in familiar patterns and guide our way as we ease into an old routine, familiar, yet new again…Light is up and the dawn of a new day, dark is down and the receding shadow of yesterday…In the gloaming a primal sense of clarity and direction guides us as we make our way out of the desert and into the sky…Always following the light and looking forward to tomorrow.