Monday, July 13, 2009
When I drive, the road is like a connect-the-dots for my thoughts. A road trip alone is merely an informal way to paint the canvases of my ideas. I took a trip "home" this weekend. Home has always and will always be Sebastopol, Sonoma County, California. I have had lots of homes, and I have planted many roots in this particular soil. My parents just moved away. Actually, dad still lingers during the week, and despite not really having the lily pad to land on anymore, I realize that the community I've built, as well as they have built, is fortress strong. I will always have people and places to visit. So, I made an impromptu sojourn to Sebastopol to visit with old friends, some who live in Europe and are home briefly during July.
The sky crossing the San Francisco Bay on the Richmond-San Rafael bridge turned dark and ominous, and actually opened into some precipitation, meanwhile the setting sun was blinding me. My mind was caught in a whirlwind of where home has gone now that my parents have moved away, after 30 years. Thirty years. That's a long time. That's most of my short life. The pavement continued to slide under me and the scenery became increasingly picturesque, taking me out of my ruminations and more focused on landscape's zen. Between Novato, and Petaluma is nothing but golden knolls, rolling towards the sky, dotted with gnarled hands of oaks and bovine grazing.
The sun had passed beyond the hills, but I noticed to the east a vibrant rainbow, with Maxfield Parish clouds. The rainbow lasted for over ten minutes, and it was as if every other driver on the road was oblivious to Life's mysterious beauty.
I had an experience similar to this when I was visiting Nepal. I had awoken suddenly at 6 a.m. in my guest house in Dhampus, near Pokhara. The Annapurna range, second in height to Everest, was apparently nearby, but in two weeks of visiting Nepal, I had not been able to even catch a glimpse of the majestic spires of granite due to it being rainy season. Yet, this particular morning, I awoke in a shuttered room in the guest house, pitch black, and for some reason, grabbed my camera and ran outside. I had barely made it out the door when I felt like I'd been hit by a stun gun. Before me was sun-splashed mountains, so breathtaking in grandeur, that I didn't even bother to check exposure, but hurried to snap some shots. No sooner had I taken a couple of frames, than the clouds had shut their curtains, the unveiling-of-the-world's-tallest-mountains show had finished its encore. And meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Nepalese were sweeping. An ordinary day.
I guess for me, the mundane is extraordinary. I did not stop my car for the rainbow. I felt compelled to keep going 70 miles an hour. Sometimes, I choose to let my mind be my camera. I realize that sometimes, painting with words, oils or watercolors instead of 35mm is warranted. Someday, I will be able to hook up a USB cable and be able to share these images trapped in my head: the monkeys in Thailand, the rainbows of Petaluma, the dancing children...until then, find them on the page, and imagine with me.