You'd think we lived in the Pacific Northwest with the record-setting rain we'd been getting. The forecast was for intermittent rain again through the weekend. This particular Easter weekend I'd scheduled a retreat with friends up at Hidden Villa. The calls and emails started coming in, 'I don't think we'll be coming after all...'
Donning my Goretex rain jacket, I drove up to Hidden Villa that Saturday morning.
The sky was overcast. The air was light with the fresh fragrance of mist.
I waited and waited for the others to start arriving.
I noticed that nearly everyone else at the wilderness preserve and sustainable organic farm were families. Tons of kids. Imagining the scenario that morning in their homes, I was sure it went like:
"Dad! Mom! Get up."
Ughh...sinks in lower into the quilt blanket.
"You promised. We're feeding the goats at Hidden Villa farm today."
"I know honey. We can go next week...It's raining."
The prospect of rain doesn't faze kids. In fact, it's simply a fact: "It's raining" rather than "Yuck, it's raining." A different type of adventure not expected beckons.
And now that they actually standing here feeding the goats maybe it's not so bad. The soft light dances off raindrops on the vines and ferns in an enchanting way. At the end of the day, the parents might even begin to wonder if the quiet rain is imbued with sublime solace in a way that a bright sunny day lacks. The photographs aren't washed out by the incessant glare. The green live things seem more green, bursting with life. And the rainbows. Ah, yes, the rainbows.
I imagine that yes is the only living thing. - e.e. cummings
I imagine that the present is as it should be. It is perfectly unfolding even if I don't understand why. The projects that come my way aren't any more exciting, any more enthralling than anyone else's. However if they fall into my lap, I treat them as welcome visitors. In many fairy tales and myths, the hero (or heroine) is often confronted as he makes his way through the enchanted forest by wizards and gods in disguise as hags and monsters. They are actually guides and mentors and the greatest teachers along the journey to the treasure, the Holy Grail.
I met a photographer recently. He does his own artwork too. Mostly he does a lot of commercial photography. He doesn't regard his own work as any more or any less creative than his client work. I was moved by the heartfelt way he described how his task was to find and draw out the beauty in the building he is photographing. He learnt from his mentor that if the shot is somehow 'off' to investigate and adjust himself, the camera, etc. first rather than assume that the external scene is at fault.
The task is not to find the lovable object, but to find the object before you lovable. – Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love
What if you didn't interpret the day as lousy or the project as lousy or the assignment as boring? Instead of wishing you can get back to your 'real' work, seek the beauty and the message for you in what's at hand and you will find it.
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the movie Don Juan DeMarco, Marlon Brando playing a psychologist is asking Johnny Depp how he manages to attracts so many women. Depp, playing the role of the irresistible Don Juan, replies (in Castillan accent):
"By seeing beyond what is visible to the eye. Now there are those, of course, who do not share my perceptions, it is true. When I say that all my woman are dazzling beauties, they object. The nose of this one is too large; the hips of another, they are too wide; perhaps the breasts of a third, they are too small. But I see these women for how they truly are... glorious, radiant, spectacular, and perfect... because I am not limited by my eyesight. Women react to me in the way they do, Don Octavio, because they sense that I search out the beauty that lies within until it overwhelms everything else. And then they cannot avoid their desire, to release that beauty and envelope me in it."
photos From the 2006 Dwelve retreat at Hidden Villa in the Los Altos hills in the San Francisco Bay Area peninsula. The mushroom shots are mine. The forest primeval is by my friend Don.