road trip     

  the Jeep always takes you home
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waypoints

click here or on the image above for more wisconsin concrete park photos

1 Wisconsin

3 june 2018
wisconsin concrete park

So it turns out this guy Fred Smith, who could not read or write, created his own versions of stuff he saw in photos or films and his chosen medium was concrte and glass bottles, broken or whole.

     + TD

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click here or on the image above for more beaver lake photos

2 Wisconsin

3 june 2018
chequamegon national forest: beaver lake

from the National Forest Service website:
"Beaver Lake Campground is a small, secluded, family-friendly campground located on the shores of its namesake lake. The waterfront sites provide spectacular scenic views of the area and its location gives visitors access to several popular areas of the Chequamegon National Forest. Beaver Lake sits in northwestern Wisconsin, in a forest of maple, birch and red pine trees. The lake is a perfect spot to kayak, canoe, swim or enjoy a leisurely boat ride. A boat ramp is located about a half-mile from the campground."

Long ago I camped in this beautiful little campground on the shore of a spring-fed lake brought to its present size by a massive beaver dam that is now probably nearing a hundred years old. There are ten sites around a small loop, half on the lake. There are pit toilets and a green cast iron pump for water. The first time I was here was in the summer of 1980.




  click here or on the image above for more copper falls photos

3 Wisconsin

3 june 2018
copper falls state park

from the Wisconsin DNR website:
"Ancient lava flows, deep gorges and spectacular waterfalls make Copper Falls one of Wisconsin's most scenic parks. Log buildings built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s add to the park's charm."

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  click here or on the image above for more lake itasca photos

4 Minnesota

5 june 2018
itasca state park

from the Minnesota DNR website:
"Established in 1891, Itasca is Minnesota's oldest state park. Today, the park totals more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes. Walk across the mighty Mississippi as it starts its winding journey 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Stand under towering pines and visit landmarks of centuries gone by throughout the park. Camp under the stars or stay the night in one of our 45 overnight units. Explore Wilderness Drive past the 2,000-acre Wilderness Sanctuary, one of Minnesota's seven National Natural Landmarks."




 fort garry photos

5 Winnipeg, Ontario, Canada

Two days of travel, long days on the road. Crossed over into Canada, and the border inspection went quickly and easily. Even the can of bear spray made it through without a hitch. Apparntly pepper spray is OK if it comes in a canister labeled "Bear Spray."

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We have words for what should not be worded.
Words like "Spirit" and "Tao" and "God" or "the Force" or even "Higher Power."

Whatever these words refer to does not exist, because "it" is prior to time and outside space.

Everything that exists, everything that "is," exists in time and space, because "time and space" is precisely what defines existence.

What we call "Spirit" gave rise to time and space and the billions and billions of existent "its" that we take, mostly, as reality.

      The way that can be spoken of
      Is not the constant way;
      The name that can be named
      Is not the constant name.
      The nameless was the beginning of heaven and earth;
      The named was the mother of the myriad creatures.
      Hence always rid yourself of desires in order to observe its secrets;
      But always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe its manifestations.
      These two are the same
      But diverge in name as they issue forth.
      Being the same they are called mysteries,
      Mystery upon mystery --
      The gateway of the manifold secrets. 

            (Translated by D. C. Lau, Wang Pi manuscript)

It appears that there is this whole other world that somehow we can meditate ourselves into - if we do it right, if we become enlightened, if we invite Jesus (or whoever) into our hearts and are saved to eternal life. But none of that, in its thousand forms, is really helpful or even correct. It can't be, because even "a whole other world" is still a world, manifest in time and space, and therefore part of (mere) existence.

And, in fact, there is no "other world."

      The realm of God is within you.   + Jesus

      As Plotinus knew and Nagarjuna taught, always and always the "other world" is this world rightly seen.    + Ken Wilber

      Anything you do every day can open into the deepest spiritual places.   + Rumi

So, as the saying goes, "You can't get there from here, and anyway, there's nowhere to go." We use words, of course, to talk about what cannot be worded, and that's as good as it gets in time and space. But as Louis Armstrong is reported to have answered when someone asked him "What's jazz?"
"If you got to ask the question, you ain't never gonna know the answer."

I've played jazz, riffed on melodies and played with syncopated rhythms. But I've also asked a lot of questions - too many, my parents would sometimes tell me - and maybe I ain't ever gonna know the Answers, but I've gotten a few hints, the "aroma of which reminds me of some of the best kitchens I've been in," to quote someone I cannot right now name.

So let's start with the smaller, easier questions. How about Schelling's "Why is there something, anything t all, rather than nothing?" Or perhaps with these:
Who am I?
Why am I here?
Who are all those others, what is all of this?

Or to quote Witt from the film The Thin Red Line:
"Who are you to take so many forms?"

     +TD




 dinosaur provincial park photos

6 Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO Heritage Site and contains the greatest abundance of late cretaceous fossils on the North American continent. The land is badlands formation, similar to the badlands found in South Dakota, but not as old and not as deeply eroded. The tops tend to be mesas and green with growth whereas in South Dakota the formations are all rounded off. Give these a few ten-thousands of years.

Apparently, here in Alberta as well as in South Dakota, the so-called "badlands" were formed quickly, over a couple of days, as the most recent Ice Age was nearing its end and the ice sheets were melting and retrating, when a massive ice dam holding back melted glacier water gave way and an unimaginable amount of water (probably along the lines of Lake Michigan emptying down the Menomonee River Valley, which kinda makes it actually imagineable...) swept through the Red River valley and blew everything that was there clean away, all the way down to the Late Cretacean, which is why there are so many dinosaur fossils here. The First Nations people who lived here considered the badlands valley to be sacred space, deeply spiritual.

Taken metaphorically, there are some events in life that have the same effect. Something melts down, an emotional/psychological dam breaks and and a huge amount of pent-up energy is released and it blows away everything in its path down to some metaphorical Late Cretacean period of our lives, leaving us with a lot of fossilized relics of the past (mostly behavior patterns and belief systems) to try and reconstruct and understand in order to incorporate and transcend. A good counselor knows where to look and just what kind of brush to use to clear away everything but the fossils themselves. A bad one sees only erosion and devastation.

But the emotional "badlands" themselves are sacred spaces and deeply spiritual.

     + TD




 banff & Jasper national parks photos

7 Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

I have long beleved that ordinary experience, "this world rightly seen," the chop wood/carry water of our everyday lives is as deeply spiritual as anything we could hope for:

   The closer you get to real matter, rock, air, fire, wood, the more spiritual the world is.
       + Gary Snyder

   it is right here!
   it is right now!
   it has always been so!

       + taizan maezumi

I am reminded now that such a perspective, while completely accurate, does not mean that "anything goes." That reminder came while hiking up a steep trail, about a mile long, leading to Bow Summit, 7,000 feet. There is a certain level of awareness (waking up) required to be able to see clearly ("behold") the extraordinary in the ordinary. It takes some careful brushing away (cleaning up) of the error and ignorance of our life. It takes a level of maturity beyond egocentric and ethnocentric hopefully through rational to multicultural pluralism (growing up) to be able to engage the great indestructability and fragility of life. And it takes actually being there (showing up), embracing all the aspects of experience, the individual, the shared, the internal and the external, and not stuck in the afterburn of disasters and delights past or the anticipation of things only yet to (maybe) come.

In other words, it takes, at the least, not being stupid and selfish.

And on the Bow Summit trail, and at the (fenced) overlook of the Bow Valley at the summit, in the apparently-unread "Please stay on the trail!" signs all the way along the trail, there was a lot of stupid and selfish in the form of tramping what should not be trampled and using selfie-sticks to capture glamour-shot photos which I am sure will end up on Instagram of Facebook. And if that wasn't bad enough, for these stupid, selfish people there did not seem to be any awareness of, or if there was then no respect for, anyone else on the trail. You want that photo? Just step in front of someone else who was composing their own image. Other people on the trail? Just ignore tham and jostle your way right past. Listen to the sounds of this unique and wonderful place and open up to a wee bit of (shall I say the word...) appreciation? Naw, just chatter away about whatever little importances are occupying your narcissistic little heads. Climb over the fences. Sit on the rock ledges. Disregard the fact that there may be some excellent reasons for the signs, the trails and the railings, reasons that are far larger and more significant than anything these tourists from the big tour bus seem to be capable of grasping. And these were adults!!!

There is a Bobby McFerrin song:

     For those who would be trained by it
     No discipline is pleasant, at the time it's painful,
     No discipline is pleasant, at the time it's painful.
     Later on, however, it produces
     A heart of righteousness and peace.
     For those who would be trained by it,
     No discipline is pleasant, at the time it's painful

So ya, start with our yown lived experience as spiritual experience, as spiritual as it can get. And be ever mindful that it is quite possible to completely get it all wrong, to act with a care-free certainty that we are the center of the Universe without even being aware that we are doing so. Exercise a little discipline and stay on the freakin' trail when the signs are indicating that the level of traffic has grown to the point where everything we came for is nearly lost because of the selfish stupidity of too many others who come this way. Or, just as importantly, the guard rails and signs are there to keep us from falling off the edge.

In other words, my experience is not normative. Neither is yours. We can be getting this all wrong, and the stakes are high. But there's something in the communal world of "WE" that can correct and complete the individual world of "I" just as surely as there is something in the individual world of "I" that can correct and complete the communal world of "WE."

     + TD




  



Text and images copyright 2018 Thomas D'Alessio & Jocelyn Boor