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January 08, 2004 - Thursday

Airplanes and a California Bus Trip

I’m in flight from Denver to San Francisco. The flight from the Springs was short, but I had a window seat on the west side of the plane. It was clear and still light. I could see all the way to the snow-capped continental divide. It was lovely. On take off out of Denver I could see the orange moon rising in the east. Gorgeous!

It’s dark now and hardly worth peering out the window. Why I didn’t think to pull out a blank book from home and bring it with me, I don’t know. I bought one at the airport in Denver. I was thinking I’d read, but somehow just don’t feel like it at the moment.

I’d ordered a book via Amazon.com from Perceval Press, Viggo Mortensen’s book “Coincidence of Memory” – very interesting. His poetry is quite cryptic to me, seeming to me to most likely have great meaning to him. Some gave me pictures in my head, but mostly I think I will need to read them again.

My poetry is not quite so cryptic, at least I don’t think so, plus I have a tendency to rhyme and there is a meter to it. Nevertheless, it gave me pause to think – I have written some that is more cryptic and some I’ve not yet written yet. It opens the idea to me and I like the thought. His photos and art are abstract. I like the color and composition. My photos are not abstract (and I’ve not much been drawn to the idea of taking those types of photos), however of recent my desire to paint, work with pastels or watercolor have leaned to the abstract. My mind - or rather - the images in my mind are filled with color, shapes and lines. It isn’t something I’ve ever expressed, but the desire is very strong – perhaps I’ll find time to pick up chalk or pastels on this trip – we shall see. I’ll definitely try to find time to write something… poetry perhaps… it’s what I’d like to do.

Later…

I arrived safely in Santa Rosa. I took the Airporter (or bus) from the Airport here. It was a two hour ride and gave plenty of time to ponder. It is interesting to me that riding along in the bus looking out the window at the houses and building we passed made me think of other bus rides I’ve taken. I realized that the last bus trip of any sort that I took was about seven years ago from Bombay to Poona in India. The memory of looking out the window was the same. Somehow that experience (of looking out the window) has struck my mind a number of times. As the vehicle passes by a building, for a moment, you are given a glimpse of someone’s life. A snapshot… Someone watching the news… The layout of a living room with pictures and furniture… A fish tank… Someone doing the dishes... A momentary glimpse of a life… The most striking memory I can think of was the ‘snapshot’ of a family sitting down to dinner at the dining room table; a ‘snapshot’ in my mind as we raced along a highway somewhere in Minnesota thirty-five years ago. At that moment in my life I realized that all the activity in my mind, all the thoughts that I thought, every memory in my mind, all the complexity that was me, was repeated in each individual on the planet. It blew my mind. I think it was the realization that all these lives were all going on whether I could see it or not. The flatness of the world exploded into a mind-boggling vista. At that moment I ceased to be the center of the universe, and became merely a drop in the ocean of humanity. Somehow it seems incredibly personal to get this glimpse, almost like an accidental intrusion. But as the windows of homes flash by the window I can’t help but look and ponder on the snapshots in my mind.

Of course the bus trip that I took in India was strikingly different. At first it was the view from the window as we pulled away from a bus station I would never be able to find again. (I wouldn’t have found it the first time if not for the help of a kind British gentleman that took my mother and me from the airport to the bus station, helped us purchase the tickets and waved at us as we pulled away.) What came to view in the windows as I sat peering out them was poverty. Cardboard along the street, people walking or working… I don’t recall feeling disgusted at all… not even particularly shocked, just mesmerized by the view and sad in my heart that so many in the world struggle. The buildings were functional, but not beautiful… and again as we passed we captured snapshots of life in India in our minds. That bus ride was slow, what in America would have taken perhaps an hour or so, took four hours. My mother and I each had a seat at the very back of the bus, one on each side. And besides looking out the window what we did was bounce… bounce and bounce… for four hours. Gah!! I think perhaps there wasn’t a shock absorber anywhere on that bus. As we moved quietly though San Francisco last night I thought how wonderfully comfortable my seat was.

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