As the sun goes down, the smoke drifts in from the south and the sky is ablaze with color. The trees display their brilliant autumn hues of saffron, copper and claret. The full moon rises as red as the Mosaic Nile. Away over the mountains thousands of people lament as they watch their lives go up in flame. Sometimes it’s absurd how accurately the world reflects one’s inner turmoil. These feelings of beauty and elation, remorse and despair, all flickering, dancing, melding, and fusing into the brightest of colors; searing the soul and scathing the mind. These conflicting emotions: always rising and falling, sometimes fighting, while at other times augmenting each other. The flame surrounds and consumes us, and most of all it reminds us that we are indeed alive.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – according to the plastic animatronic Santa Clause that was waving to me from a shelf in Costco. I should be used to how early Christmas items go on sale these days, but every year it takes me by surprise. It is that time of year though: time for that unabashed conglomeration of commercialism which we call The Holiday Season. It’s that time of year when I really start to question the values of capitalism without forgetting the alternatives. It’s that time of year which also includes my birthday. How did it get here so quickly? I’ve heard the theory that time seems to move more quickly as you age. When you’re five, a year is a fifth of your life. When you’re fifty, a year is practically an insignificant amount of time. It should amount to a slow but steadily perceived acceleration of time as our lives progress. This year has gone by ridiculously fast. I suppose it may have something to do with the pace I’ve been keeping. I’ve been jumping from one project to the next without even pausing to catch my breath.
I ducked out of my Latin class early tonight. The clock was broken. We were going to watch Troy, which I’ve already seen, and I hadn’t been paying attention anyway. I fought the wind between the classroom and my truck, and then headed to Albertson’s to get something to snack on. I wandered around the store for a while and finally ended up with a bag of cookies and a pumpkin. I went through the self-checkout and plunged headlong into the cold, windy parking lot. Instead of turning towards home I turned the other way, and on a whim drove up to the aqueduct. There is something truly amazing about sitting in the dark while a 50mph wind whips around you. I sat next to the pumpkin and listened to the wind while the lights from Mira Loma burned below. The whole valley was lit up, and the dust in the air took up some of the glow and held it just over the city, almost like a thin pool of amber fog. It looked like the valley was on fire. It reminded me of the night I spent on the roof of my house at the Indian Museum and watched the Writewood fire slowly burn its way down the mountain twenty miles away. That seemed like such a long time ago. The lights of Lancaster hit the mountains behind me and were cast back into the darkness. The quarter moon slowly sank below the ridgeline. Cars drove past on Gotte Hill, and I sat there in the dark with the wind and the pumpkin and watched as time danced it’s fleeting dance.
Posted by John at 9:52 PM
Thursday, October 11, 2007
1. to take a risk in the hope of a favorable outcome
Last weekend was filled with adventure. It was rich and amazing. As the sore spots on my collar and the spiral on my back slowly fade, I'm reminded by Tom Petty that "coming down is the hardest thing."
Spirals are interesting symbols. They mean many different things. According to some scholars, certain American Indian tribes and Celtic peoples believed that the spiral depicted the passage of time. In modern culture we're taught to think of time as a line without beginning or end. Like a straight line, a spiral can have no perceivable beginning or end, and unlike a straight line, a spiral time-line suggests that time can run parallel to itself. This actually may be a much more accurate notion of how time works, at least metaphorically, as there are many similar repetitions and parallels in history. e.g. the rise and decline of nations and cultures, the pendulum swing between political and philosophical ideals. Our entire lives are made up of cycles. Like the seasons, our experiences come and pass, and then come around again only slightly changed. What a dizzying thing the world is. It's good to remember that whatever season you're going through in life, it will eventually pass and be replaced by another season. And while being torn between remorse for the loss of the old, and fear and excitement at the dawn of the new, that season will come around again, but differently. I suppose that could be either reassuring or very depressing, depending on how you look at it.
Last weekend was amazing. ;)
Posted by John at 1:34 PM
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I'm wondering what, entirely, factors into our awareness of the world and the people and things we encounter in it. What makes one thing stand out to us over other similar things? Is it the rarity, or the aesthetics of a thing; or is it something entirely different?
A couple of weeks ago I arrived home from work, and upon pulling into my parking space I noticed an elderly lady watering the sand-filled planter two doors down. This may not seem very odd to those whom are reading this, but allow me to first tell you a bit about my apartment complex. From what I can gather, I believe this place was originally built in the '40s. The doorknobs, hinges, and faucets are consistent with those in some of the historic buildings I worked on when I was employed by the Department of Parks and Rec. That means that either this building is the same age as the others, or it was built with spare parts. I'm also fairly certain that there have been no significant, professional alterations or repairs made on this building since it's initial construction. From the outside, the building looks like a large pink hotel, and from the inside it looks like a very small pink hotel. Like the building, the grounds appear to be maintained by the residents. Some of the residents are prone to demonstrating both their artistic flare, and their pride in ownership. There are several junk cars, and odds and ends parked at creative angles (some utilizing the "rule of thirds"), which have probably been there since the apartment was new.
Now, back to this elderly woman who is so diligently watering the dirt planter in front of the complex. Many times when people move to the desert, they go through a period of Green Withdrawal. This period is usually characterized by hysterical behavior, and it isn't uncommon for these people to sporadically water sand, in hopes that something will grow there. It doesn't help matters when something actually does start growing there. It’s great sport to watch these poor souls, as they water their patch of sand faithfully every morning, and then a few days later, when a faint greenish hue appears, they howl triumphantly and start serving their little plants a double portion of water. It generally takes them almost a month to realize that they are, in fact, cultivating tumbleweeds. My first thought upon seeing this woman was “oh great, a crazy person.” I got out of my car and walked to the door of my apartment, trying not to make eye contact, but still watching her from the corner of my eye. As I got closer I noticed a bag of what may possibly have been grass seed on the porch next to her, and several little flowers in plastic containers, along with what looked like little packets of vegetable seeds. My perception of this woman completely changed. Apparently she was turning that ugly planter into a little garden of sorts. What a brilliant idea. As I proceeded into my apartment I realized how harsh my misperception of her had been initially. I really liked this idea of planting vegetables in front of the building. The next day, upon closer examination, I realized with dismay that the bag of grass seed, the flowers, and the vegetable seed packets were in fact concrete, plastic, and empty jello packets respectively. It also occurred to me that there were no old women in residence on that side of the building. So once again my perception of this woman changed. Was she just some nomadic geriatric who enjoyed wasting water? I still like the idea of growing vegetables, and maybe some blackberries in front of the complex.
Pet Peeve of the Week: People who stop in heavily trafficked intersections for no apparent reason. I understand and appreciate aimless wandering, but the center of a major intersection is not the ideal place to suddenly decide to give directive to your previously random roaming.
Things I’m thankful for: Anti-lock breaks.
Posted by John at 2:42 PM