Posted on December 1, 2022
“A pathway into autumn… I like this. It’s how I envision the fall.” She turns and flashes me this image. It is one in a series of autumn shots around Kamyk nad Vltavou in Czechia, taken on my last hike in October.
She leans back into the pillow, continues to flip through the photos, and stops when she comes to a poem I had written in the spring but tossed away. She reads it out loud:
The sorrow of her tears – rains of nourishment
The tease of her smile – flowers in bloom
The softness of her breath – causes me to catch mine
Unrequited love, it’s the rejection of Spring
Hurts like hell but shouts to my soul: I’m alive
I cringe. Not only do I suck at poetry, but I don’t get it for the most part. Still, I can’t help trying. Sometimes I hear a set of lyrics or a poem and dream of writing something as beautiful just once.
Her laughter breaks my thought. “In the spring, these words could have brought tears to my eyes. Now, they make me laugh uncontrollably.”
I join in her laughter. There’s no hiding her honesty.
As with my fool’s errand of writing poetry, 2022 has been a year where I’ve felt the edge more than ever. From the beautiful chaos of Czechia, returning to nature in the States, and now in Hong Kong, preparing for my journey behind the Great Firewall of China and its shroud of quarantine.
This edge is a dichotomous path. Either I fall into a deep abyss with no retreat or, with a touch of hope, fall into another realm of a brilliant universe.
“You are looking forward to China, aren’t you?” She asks, knowing the answer. She understands the stress and the friction of contrasting thoughts.
Is the world moving too quickly, or am I moving too slowly? I feel the friction grow.
“Friction is what life is all about, and I can help you understand this. It’s within the power of a muse.” She winks, “We can bend time and alter perception – it makes life more interesting. All I ask is for you to take me to the edge… to see the realm of possibilities.”
“Cheers to your genius. Teach me to bend time and perception, and I’m yours. By the way, why have you shown up now? I’ve so much to do?” Surprised by the tension in my voice.
Peering at me, she says, “You fascinate me. I’ve bounced around, mused for women as well, but working with men is so much easier… and this is my true feminist nature speaking.”
“I agree, men are superior,” trying to finish my packing, I look up with humor,“…and this is my feminist side speaking.”
“I miss the springtime you.” She wryly adds, “you were nicer back then.”
“Ah, yes. The spring me. The spring is an idealistic, crazy, and happy time,” I retort. “Autumn suits my cynical older age.”
A flush of images sweeps past, each taking me away to a different time and feeling. The photos reflect an autumn to remember in Kamyk nad Vltavou. Magic all around, everywhere in this beautiful land.
The season has been kind to me. A time when I usually exhale and begin to wind down for winter. This year, it’s the freshness that surprises me. I envision a fascinating new world in front of me, cloaked in fog – an invitation to a new adventure.
Her words break my spell. “I’m fascinated because we walk the same trails and view the same countryside… but you photograph a world I don’t see.” Her eyes want to say more but stop at a simple question. “Why is that?”
I ponder this, twirling her words around the universe I hold inside my head, blown away at how infinitely more complex and intriguing the universe she hides in hers.
Everywhere… we walk, bumping into strangers who hold insights within their universe but we are too caught up in ours to notice. We all seek our edge, curious about its potential but fearful of going one step too far.
The scene of Hong Kong glistens from my window. This is where life diverged for me – I jumped in head first, leaving one life behind. Maybe this is why I see the world differently.
Rhetorically she asks, “Since you are not answering, I’ll ask a different question. Do you know what makes you special?”
I can feel myself tighten up and ask, “What’s that?” Expecting another quip.
“You make my heart beat sideways…” She swings her legs down, zips up the last bag I have packed, and walks to the door.
In a typical state of confusion with her, I ask, “Sideways?!?”
That delicious laugh of hers. “Well, the first time it happened, I thought it was indigestion, but then I realized you bring out something special. A spice that makes the world a bit better even with the tragedy you call poetry.”
She runs her hands straight through me. “This mythical edge, it’s where the heart beats sideways… the sense of being alive.” Time stops, my perceptions change, and she teases, “This is what fascinates me.”
This edge I wrote about earlier in the Czechia spring, this edge of hope, of fear… the edge of something spectacular.
“How to describe?” I look and her, trying to verbalize being seduced by the edge, this ultimate point of friction. Action is required: retreat and survive or pursue and risk it all – rare moments to wake up the soul.
I try to recite the appropriate Hunter S. Thompson quote from the past but fail. “It’s the greatest mystery out there.” I muse, “Those who understand the edge have gone over it, never to return, so no one knows. It’ll always be a mystery.”
“You may think I’ve seen the edge, but no. When I feel it, I can’t run away fast enough.” The disappointment in her eyes makes me chuckle.
This is the beauty of friction. It protects us from going over the edge; it connects us – it slows us down. Creates heat. Creates life. Our bonds become stronger over time, and the increased friction slows us so we can make better decisions.
My worry? The physics of friction will inevitably grind me to a halt.
She recovers from her disappointment to ask, “Who is happier? A soul who dives into the chaos of life and lives through a series of adventures, or takes the same seat every day, watches the world pass, and simply exists?” She lightly taunts me.
My immediate thought is to choose the adventurer, but a stoic also realizes it takes all types of courage to face the unknown regardless of risk. Whether it’s a stereotypical life of an accountant, which society paints as safe and secure, or an adrenaline junkie’s fix to risk body and soul. Both hold the courage of life to be proud.
“It depends if I’ve had my coffee or not…” I linger. “We have courage in different measures based on our circumstances. The beauty of all those different universes floating in the minds of those we bump into daily hold pieces of the answer.”
“The edge, the edge, the edge…” She pouts. “Take me there!” laughter again erupting.
“This mythical edge, I have no idea if I’ll ever see it, and I like the idea of it being just out of reach.” I sing along with Nick Cave as I grab my bag and head for the door, the lyrics from my
demon muse churning in my mind.
One foot out the door, and these are the goodbyes that make leaving Hong Kong difficult. I feel myself blush as she closes the door. In doing so, as intended, she has opened another.
I am off, my soul plowing through quicksand as the world moves further ahead.
What’s this? My heart… it’s beating sideways. I smile at the idea that this may be indigestion.
Category: Bohemia, China, Creative Writing, muse, Nature, Philosophy, Photography Tagged: Autumn, China, Czech Republic, Czechia, Friction, Hong Kong, Hunter S. Thompson, Nature, Philosophy, photography, The Edge
Posted on May 30, 2022
Spring inspires. Her enthusiasm reflects the warmth of sunshine and I cannot take my eyes off her. A flash of her wry smile and I’m slowly lured in…
For me, the season of spring is the innocent version of Eris, the Greek goddess of strife. When the weather turns warm and life becomes comfortable, she arrives with one goal: to weave a web of discord. It’s my home for the season. Her laughter, the wind. Her tears, the rain. Her thunder, to be avoided at all cost.
An unperceptive shift in mood and the tranquillity of the day explodes… her warm breeze shifts into high gear and my well laid plans scatter throughout the Czech countryside. All is lost and the dance begins. The electricity of her breath fires every neuron and it’s no longer possible to quiet my desires.
This Czech spring demands my attention.
Her unpredictability is her essence.
Around the world, spring has always inspired reflection, growth, a bit of the human spirit spurring us back into life.
Personally, I enjoy the havoc of spring as long as it’s from a distance. This year, however, she has drawn me out. She has shaken me ~ a Czech country girl making my uncommitted soul rethink its allegiance.
Weighed down by the world, she breathes life back into me. She’s my lifelong crush and we’ve developed this springtime ritual: a ridiculous dream sequence destined to end in disappointment. Heartache with such gravity nothing can escape, and to be honest I don’t want to leave.
Sigh, she holds a seductive spark of the unknown. Something I’ve always been intimidated by yet at the same time drawn towards. A moth to a flame, so the story goes.
Cannot deny her spirit, after all the ability to bring the dormant back to life, to revive a soul wasting away under a blanket of snow. She does the impossible.
Watching her wash over the world, I always wish to be at my best and with this she inspires. I want to be good. I want to be better. I want to speak her language.
There is never a time where she doesn’t have me soaring in ecstasy or drowning in agony. There is no other season which holds so terribly an awesome power.
She leads me along the razor’s edge, between the bliss of renewal and the crackling energy of the unknown. Laughing as she pushes me one way and then the other. This mythical place she calls home, where life begins to tingle. The edge of hope, edge of fear, edge of something spectacular.
Bliss of a comfortable life or the thrill of an adventure. There is no choice, I feel her tickling my heart…
I run in the rain. Run up a mountain. Run the stairs at work. Why? Simple. She inspires. To be something more, every day a little more.
A memory of a Seattle spring long ago: a billy goat standing on top of the world. The youthful me bounding up alongside the mountain as well ~ sharing in something peaceful and perfect.
“Ignore the inevitable heartache and continue the climb, take the miracles as they come.” I can hear the younger me shouting at the current me collapsed somewhere below on the trail.
She is passion built upon an undercurrent of melancholy, a paradox of love and rejection dancing as one. Never knowing where one begins and the other ends. While it is foolish to take such risks, it would be more foolish not to revel in this spark of glory while it exists.
Sacrifice? Just continue to walk the razor’s edge between agony and ecstasy. Spring is the wildness we all need.
The melancholy of spring is not easy to become addicted to, but of course I find a way. While she brings in the new, I hold onto the past: the hope to revive the flicker of lost love. An ancient myth.
She offers to sweep away this paralysis, to lead me from the darkness of winter and into the blinding light of a new world. It’s long overdue to slip on my Ray-Ban’s and get moving.
Her brilliance is in the turbulence she creates. There is no better motivator than dealing with strife and moving forward. New joys, new pains, a new way of thinking.
Writing about this ridiculousness loosens the vice wrapped around my heart. I wonder if hidden in our DNA is a small desire for self-destruction?
Dipping a foot in this pool of chaos cannot help but sweep a soul along this torrent of reality. Bruising us with the emotions of a real, eventful life. A variety of life from those living the American Dream to those battling for the Ukrainian Dream… and of course all of us in-between. We take risks to build a life we believe in. With support and love, our greatest destiny is obtainable.
This spring is one I haven’t felt in a long time: a little hope, passion, and the anticipation of the crushing melancholy when it ends. It is life on Earth. It is quite magical.
A mistral wind blows, whispering the possibility of love. Spring smiles knowing the nothingness I hold inside will melt away ~ her words igniting the spirit, igniting the soul.
She sends my mind and heart racing. I feel as if I am 15 years old again, and I grimace remembering those dreaded teenage years…
She’ll break my heart, yet here I am as if floating on clouds, not sure if I’ve ever felt better. How can this be explained? She is a fantasy… and in this world, fantasies can come true.
Not following through with the hope spring provides would be tragic. Not just because such opportunities are rare, but because we owe it to ourselves to evolve, to grow. As we grow, those around us grow.
There is a time to be selfish, to want to make our world better and more to the point, make my world better. She’ll understand.
Spring avoids souls who fear death, and my guess, she wishes death for those who fear life.
She is like a cold breath in winter you try to capture in your hands… a reflection on the water or a cloud in the sky, she is simply unobtainable.
Who am I to explain the infinite complexities of Mother Nature, or (based on my track record) try to comprehend the mind of a woman. What am I doing? Her intelligence is beyond my capabilities.
Maybe I’m forever to roam the world, listening for the song of the Sirens so I can pick up my guitar and strum along… if only I had a guitar, and even more embarrassing, if only I knew how to play.
As to the inevitable aftermath of Spring? I’ll leave no more a mark on her soul than a stone thrown into a raging river. This is the sadness.
This morning, with a mug of French-pressed coffee in hand, I find myself looking around wondering where I am… I’d ask how I got here, but frightened by what the answer could be. But damn, I am happy. A “floating on clouds” happy.
The goddess of chaos. My plans ripped to shreds, scattered across the Czech countryside where the warm winds of summer will soon carry them away.
Possibilities of peace? Possibilities of love? Dreams of living with both, reality of living with none?
I’ve been doing that for a long, long time 🙂
May peace and love be with everyone during these final days of spring ~ and follow your spirit, follow your spring, to wherever the path leads.
Category: Bohemia, Creative Writing, Philosophy, Photography, The Golden Hour/Magical Hour Tagged: Czech Republic, Dreams, Ghosteen, Inspiration, Kamyk nad Vltavou, Love, Melancholy, Nick Cave, Spring
Posted on November 5, 2021
Is there anything more pure than the mind of a child?
Where the reality of a day goes on forever ~ entranced by all the love and peace around. Never a day lost, never a day wasted. Time does not exist in the manner we experience as adults. Time is in abundance.
The preciousness of every heartbeat, a soothing melody moving the world forward as it should.
Yesterday I read the average human has somewhere around three billion heartbeats within a lifetime. Not a small number, but disappointing nonetheless. It gave me pause to consider the value of each heartbeat. To reassess the importance of time.
My goal is not to squander any more heartbeats, and of course the humor was not lost on me as I ‘wasted’ several thousand mulling this over…
Roughly 2,000 years ago, the Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote an essay, On the Shortness of Life, about how our existence rushes by and only when we begin to understand the importance of time, it is too late. It’s over.
Seneca believed for many, the tragedy was not because life itself is short, but the amount of time wasted makes it short.
“We do not appreciate the value of time… life is long if you know how to use it.” – Seneca
Caught up in social media and daily news cycles, it becomes easy to go through the motion of living. We lose our consciousness and with it beautiful scenes become a faded blur of a sound-bite world.
The silver lining of the past couple of years has been the space to step back from the chaos of life; catch a glimpse of what a world looks like when time is available and not the end goal.
Listen to the heartbeat and life opens up.
Seneca too appreciated the heartbeat of life. He railed against the preoccupied souls wrapped up in the material world, chasing anything but an authentic life – supplying us with the quote:
“So you must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long.” – Seneca
This quote hammered into me the need to unlatch myself from the zeal of business; work hard but relish those moments of peace. Not an easy thing to do.
The beat of time varies like the weather, similar to music and mood. There are days when running around with hair on fire is the only option, and long hours spent on projects a blast ~ but always with an eye on what brings bliss: exploring and learning something new.
Often such exploration comes via a book, a place to capture a different taste of philosophy; ideas of a culture sharing its wisdom. A time to relax, to let the serene pieces of life soak in.
The beat of the heart in harmony with the ticking of time leads the way. For those who know me, family and friends define who I am. It took me years to understand they also help define who I can become.
“How much happier is the man who owes nothing to anybody except the one he can most easily refuse, himself!” – Seneca
Seneca’s words have always had the power to snap me away from the mirage of success ~ “I lose the day in waiting for the night, and lose the night in fearing the dawn.” Shines a light on the false belief: if I could only have this, I would be happy…
It is an enlightening moment to understand how simple happiness can be. May not be a professional athlete or atop a business empire as once dreamt, but somehow I’m much better off.
I’ve over achieved. I’m happy.
A happiness evolved from a trust in fate; a natural rhythm dictating the evolution of connections.
There are times in life when things come together. Synchronicity ~ a natural paring.
Explanations are not necessary; when such moments come together, celebrate. Take time away from the chaos and melt into the surroundings.
Melt into the colors, melt with the scene, and then melt perfectly into the love of others.
These timeless moments create a few extra heartbeats, and time stands still. Damn. I love life 😊.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, listen to the beat of your heart and jump into the unknown ~ it is the logical thing to do.
It is what we were made for.
Category: Nature, Philosophy, Photography Tagged: Czech Republic, Elliott Bay, Family, Heartbeat, iphone photos, Philosophy, Seneca, Time
Posted on August 16, 2018
I’ve never welcomed the darkness as much as tonight. The isolation clears my head; this solitude of nothingness, paraphrasing the philosophy of the Dao de Jing, …holds everything.
Such silence is rare here on the streets of one of Europe’s oldest cities, where in the daytime each passing second arrives quicker than the last. At this hour, however, time essentially stands still.
The shadow of night creeps through my body, its blackness cloaking my soul to reveal a calmness lacking the past few months. The lights, blinding during the day, become relief at this hour. An hour of perception. An hour of contrast, of paradox.
All encasing a world I seldom visit; deep into the night where elegance and vulgarity sit side-by-side on a curb, fused together through their unique naïveté by the darkness that surrounds.
The grace and coarseness of their melody illuminates who I was, who I am, and who I could become. Joined with the ghosts of the night, wisdom blooms within the lyrics and by dawn, a new world is created.
These ghosts are to be experienced, neither seen nor touched. Only deep in the night can their harmonies be heard.
Midnight in Prague, sparkling after a rain, contains calm and chaos, energy and weariness, warmth and chill ~ a place where pixies of the light romance with trolls of the dark.
Simple contrasts scattered around life, demonstrate without one there is no other. Only through darkness can we understand the light.
Darkness fascinates with its intriguing dance with light. Either they embrace and find balance or scurry away deep into the recesses of life, waiting for another chance to become one.
There is joy in the depths of night. A thrill found in the blurred line between light and dark. Photography can enlighten the dark corners where most people avoid, revealing exceptional dimensions of everyday life. Understanding contrast allows the mind to accurately interpret the world around us.
Dark and light, good and evil, pain and pleasure, man and woman. Embracing these polarizations ensures a rich life. Be wary of those who pit one against another, their intent is to distort reality. There is great value in grasping the thread of similarities between extremes, all which bind humanity together.
Nothing is either good or bad. Churning within us all is something bright and noble dancing with something dark and dangerous. And as with the purity of light, the human soul can only be cleansed by the deep darkness of life.
Grainy memories of wandering the streets are encounters I treasure. I’ve enough experience to know within the darkness, flashes of illusions and imagination roam freely. It is often within the dankest quarters of life where the heart begins to beat with the energy to ignite dreams undiscovered.
Mastering this balance makes the transformation possible. Where to begin to discover this magical place?
The need, the want and the fear, along with virtuosity can plunge a soul deep into exploring the murky and hidden pieces of life. Unknown darkness, once recognized, reveals a glistening new view of life, a mystery uncovered.
History has long shown people in power pitting light against dark; exploiting the unfounded dangers within the contrasts of life. Exclaiming misconstrued extremes should be pushed into the depths of darkness, to be forgotten. This is the gravest error, for understanding differences expands the mind and creates value where before there was only fear.
Throughout the day, tweets of the irrelevant flood the brain. A thousand pieces of delicate chaos cuts away at reason. It is in the rare solitude of night when the mind is able to breathe. Those simple words: inhale, exhale. The moment when chaos and solitude overlap, lightness and darkness come together with the realization of their interdependence.
When life is in balance, inspiration flows. The conscious and unconscious weaves the thread of dependence between extremes and the blur of life slows. Words form, new ideas take root and soon the faint whispers of the old streets come to life and a new journey begins.
Easy to fall in love here. To fall for life. To fall for the darkness.
A soft rain adds to the ambiance and I take a long look across the river to the thousand-year-old Bohemian fortress and imagine the incredible stories it could tell ~ knowing too, within, I hold tales and secrets to match.
Solitude of a night in Prague is to be embraced, to be absorbed.
Category: Bohemia, Dao De Jing, Philosophy, Photography Tagged: Charles Bridge, Czech Republic, Darkness, Light and Dark, Night Photography, Prague, Solitude