Chasing Sunsets

In front of me the sun slowly draws herself down from the sky. As she goes, she leaves a trail of pink – igniting the sky in a final neon blaze. The clouds blush at her insistence, at the way she so pointedly asks them to notice her departure. They shine pink, orange, golden – fading back to normal as her withdrawal into the dark distances her from them.

From my window the sky beckons. With its glorious orange and pink and blue it dares me to stay seated.

From pink to orange and all at once behind the next building, I am running out of time to catch the sky in its fullest form. I pull shoes on and flick off the light as I go, hurrying to the best vantage point. I walk, jog, rush my way to my to the hill. Already the color is dwindling – I am only seeing the final chiffon train, not the gown in all its glory.

I descend. Down to the Hidden Place, where my favorite bench awaits me like a promise. The sky glows now. No longer is it a bonfire; only the last stubborn embers remain suspended over me. Colors without names paint the sky and reflect in the pond at my feet. There is no mixture of pigments for that shade of grey-blue-memory. That particular orange-white-hush cannot be confined to a photograph. These are the spirits of colors, laughing as they wave goodnight to the day in the whoosh of a cloud.

Beside me a tree clicks as it settles, or responds to some creature it houses. Beneath me the grass loses its green. In front of me the water moves. There is no breeze, nor raindrops, but the surface of the pond breaks every so often at the movement of things below. The water creates the illusion of a second, impressionistic world, reflecting the wavy silhouettes trees and the toned-down colors of this reality.

Above me, still the fading.

I wait and watch as the process slows, the final emptying like the last drips of water out of a bottle – pouring so quickly, then refusing to give itself up altogether.

Once the performance is over I walk home. There is no rush this time.

Have you ever held out your hands and felt the light in the air that surrounds you?

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“Journal: Day 2” A Collaborative Introduction

Tonight I was invited into the lives and narratives of seventeen other people. Arranged in a semicircle, we each took a few minutes to open ourselves in an introduction-turned-performance. People told stories, passed around memories, demonstrated connections, and opened doors to their brains and souls.

Sitting together, able to see everyone, we put on a kind of event. Engagement led to appreciation, which led to connection. Moments revealed deeper things than a simple “Hello, I’m _____” ever could. It is easier to let a name slip away than to drop a sticky piece of spirit. So in the place of a simple name, people introduced themselves with a marker of the soul – the taste of coffee, a poem, the gravity of layers on layers of fabric, the honesty of “journaling” a memory from the day.

So when I came across the question “What is an authentic experience?” later in the night, my mind returned to that poorly lit room. Those brave performances were carefully selected and presented – chosen to highlight, not to overexpose – but they were true in their delivery. Each of us showed up. We gave. We received. Presented with the same prompt, we simultaneously created and conversed – establishing a come and go space for experience. To strangers we identified ourselves, not just with expected manners, but with direct intent.

In a space of collaboration and greeting, authenticity was the quiet nineteenth guest.

Reviving the Playground

As children, playgrounds are magical portals. They may be a pirate ship, a lava flow, a castle, a jungle. They are devices for creativity and action, fostering play and going beyond, becoming a springboard for imagination.

As children age, playgrounds change. We forget how to turn wood chips into choppy seas, unless in the presence of someone young enough to believe in their own mental magic. Then we are transported back as a cycle of imagination inspiring imagination occurs.

Creativity is a force which ebbs and flows over time, and lets us turn our worlds into more beautiful and enchanting spaces. The trick is to remember what it was like to pilot that spaceship, or to be frozen in the pebbles-turned-arctic-waters and allow the world around us to be a playground again. Or – better yet – to not only allow that perspective, but to embark on a treasure hunt and seek it out ourselves.

Visibility and Responsibility

The concept of being seen is a complicated one. Everyone wants to be acknowledged – each individual’s existence recognized rather than ignored, or worse: dismissed. We crave attention, perhaps not the whole spotlight, but at least some small part on the stage. Deep down humans want the stomach-dropping feeling of being visible – not being looked through, and not just being looked at, but seen deeply, boundlessly.

Sometimes it seems as though visibility happens in a flash. All at once you feel seen. You you feel like you have burst into existence, onto the stage, in front of the crowd, ready or not. Instantaneously you feel noticed.

You’ve really been here all along. But now you’re aware of it.

Maybe your visibility by others changes how you see yourself. Maybe a perspective shift occurs that slides so quickly and smoothly into place that the only indicator of change is a slight crease in your forehead that only comes out in the light of your reflection in the mirror.

So why does it matter?

It matters because of what you do next.

Now you know that people can see you. They are paying attention.

So what are you going to do about it?