Posts Tagged ‘Perception’

It is not only what we choose to look at and see, but how we perceive, that determines our relation to a place and the world. I see life in many rocks – faces, images, spirits and more constantly appear to me as i walk along, each with a story to be told; of a past, the present, and a future unknown. Hills are no longer vistas, something to be climbed or navigated, a challenge to build upon, but are enchanted structures, rising up, connecting the below with the above, communicating between the worlds.

In the rocks and the earth is an energy stored, an energy that is life. One not merely to fuel our material needs, but one that speaks to our souls. It is an energy of the spirit, of gaia herself, and of the many who have passed on this land long before us. And as i walk i feel the earth as magical, animate, and so very alive. I see the mystery in all i pass, the wisdom contained within, and as i listen i come to life myself, seeing the world as if through the eyes of a child. And that is the way it is meant to be.
I return to Pacifica, that place i often pass through and see the locale through the eyes of a child – the child inside. Not only do i gaze beyond the car filled roads and above the shopping plaza, homes, stores and parking lots to see the hills, behind each section of town, but the low mountains come alive and i see the glory that they are. I stroll the path along the beach, over the headlands to another and up and over again. Along the path, and out to sea, i spot many stones that speak to me – and in them i see both a terror and a magnificence. And i spot yet another hill that looks like a pyramid. I sit down to jot a note, and then down below to watch the ocean roar, and my mind opens up to stories and possibilities galore – of other worlds beyond and before our own.

I drink a coffee, cut through a parking lot, notice the cars streaming by on the road, pick up food for dinner in the grocery store, still holding the mysteries inside. But i wonder as i return to what we call “the world”, if our creation is really it? Just perhaps the world is that which lay beyond our everyday gaze. The hints to this other world surround us, but too often we just zoom on by, seeing a rock as a rock and a hill as a hill – a beautiful vista perhaps. Then i think of the expressions on some of those i passed and acknowledged or said hi to on my stroll, and realize just perhaps i am not alone – that some of the others out that day see a glimpse of the spirits around – be it consciously or not. I wonder, what do the spirits say to them, and to whom do they appear. If rocks could talk i want to write … even though i know they do. Is my vision opening up, or are the spirits begin to speak more?

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There are times we do not see, walk ‘blindly’ down a street, our minds or our gaze focused on other things that call our attention more. But then in a time of darkness, we see a light, one we had overlooked, rushed by, and failed to recognize. I walked by this mural many a time, but it was on a cold, grey, rainy day that I finally saw it there. Perhaps the grey revealed its brilliance more, or perhaps with the grey that had seeped inside i just needed to see it more.

May all beings ...

“May all beings be well and happy.
May all beings be harmonious and peaceful.
May all have the light, the way out of suffering, the way home.
May we each share our wonderous bright nature for the benefit of all beings.”

It warms me against the chill of the day, lighting the candle that lay inside. I am grateful to all those who add life and art to the cities and towns in this way, painting walls of buildings, and inspiring us, bringing the walls and thus the city to life. The artists are not famous, we may not even know who they are, but those who created this, and other art, shared their light not knowing what lights may shine upon them in return.


It is not only murals that we blindly pass not realizing the magic that is there, but the people we come across, whom we may not “see” or recognize, but who shine a light if only we would see. But like the colours of a mural or flowers on an overcast rainy day, they stand out when we are able to appreciate them most. And like the murals and public art in San Francisco, they are there if only we look, take a moment, and alter our gaze.

I walk on in the rain, feeling lighter than before, with a smile on my face as i remember other murals and people who have lit up many days.

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I turned my gaze upwards and saw something i had not seen before – a tower looming large overhead. It was there all along, but somehow i never noticed it.I was not seeking it, but suddenly it appeared, i was looking at other things, the twisted branches and tops of trees. But i turned my head and this appeared, the image of a cross and a tower looming overhead, and i began to wonder who is looking down upon us.

Who is Watching Over Us?


It was the juxtaposition of the symbols that caught my eye. As i walked that day, found pyramids and more, that tower kept appearing everywhere. Was i blind, for now it appears everywhere i look, and dominates the skyline and my mind. Perhaps it is calling out to me – communicating from above – calling out to all of us. I travelled about, forgetting about it, then i would turn around, look up, and suddenly it was there. And i wonder, just what power does it have – it is this that we worship the most?

So many times, when something comes to us, it begins to dominate our minds, and casts a light or a shadow over all that we see. It appears, and takes hold, and looms above all be it a fascinating discovery, a love, a worry or a fear – we see it everywhere and in all, and build upon what we envision. This tower represents so much of our current society, and i wonder about the vibrations sent out, and how it affects our bodies and our minds. And then it is time to recast the lens, refocus, cast my gaze elsewhere and call in that which illuminates.

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I was transported across a golden bridge and through a long dark tunnel to another world today. A world of magical mountains with secrets buried inside, guardians of stone, and a light that shone for all to see. … and then i came back.

 I rode a bus to Marin Headlands across the golden gate bridge, the hills that have called to me many a time. I had yearned to go, but put it off, for the bus only runs one day a week, so my timing had to be right. Though it is so close as the raven or the hawk flies, and above my head they did, it is also so far away. Though physically so close, it is another world – especially when you leave the vistas of the bay.

Marin Headlands is yet another old army fort turned part of the golden gate national park with barracks and more built into the hills and a lighthouse at the entrance to the bay; The hills speak to me as ancient pyramids (i believe they lay everywhere) and in a few of the rocks on the cliffs you can see faces (of the guardians there). The sun had come out after days of rain, and slowly the magic seeped into me.

It was not present when i first arrived and focused my attention on the old military installations and the fighter jets soared above the bay. But after a walk out to the lighthouse, my vision changed. I opened up to the call of the land and the presence that was there, being guided in my footsteps, and the magic entered into my soul. I felt like i was truly in another world and time. Faces in and on the stones, the shape of the hills, and the curious relics we leave behind for generations to come all came to life. I came to life as i became enchanted with the mysteries there, and truly felt the earth as a living entity and became connected with the all. It truly felt like another ancient holy place.


This is more a description of my day, but what i wrote at first sounds so much more romantic – and i hope to experience more of life that way – enchanted with the world.

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Just what is the collective mythology of a place, and how does it influence our lives? Just what aspects of the story are called up and influence what we become? What parts are manifested in the three-dimensional realm – and of those, which are maintained, transformed or destroyed? How aware are we of the myths and stories that lay behind that which we see? Often there are many stories, built upon one another, fragmented, disconnected but joined. Which ones are part of us? Just what is the common thread and how do we draw it into our todays, continuing it forth onto the tomorrows? What parts do we hang onto, tell over and over again, although what may be present in the here and now is but a blurry faint remnant of what was? When do we build upon it, and when do we let go? How does it affect us – though the story may be unknown – as we interact with what was created as part of the story itself? How does knowing the story alter our perceptions of what is here now? Is the story we hear the story in and of itself, or rather one of many that took place? How much of the story originated in other places and other myths that have been transported to this place? when does the story become agreed upon, and help form the mythology of a place, or a person for that matter?

Today i went on a walking tour of market street, one of the many given for free by the city guides – a volunteer organization that gives walking tours of many locales in the city. I have been on these before, in previous times here a few years back, and have written a bit about them before. While this tour was not as inspirational as some, and the skies let loose with rain before it was done, the questions above are many that came to mind. Questions that i have pondered here, and in other locales, so many times before. Questions i have asked not only about physical locales, but about myself. In this place both the collective and the personal mythologies intertwine – but really, does that not happen everywhere? But here is a place where the mythology runs deeps – not only on a collective, but on a personal realm.

Now Market street is definitely not one of my favourite places in the city, and if i lived here, i doubt i would often venture here. But as a visitor, staying nearby, it is a place i often find myself. It bisects the city, and is part of its story, and although not part of what drew me here, has somehow become part of mine as well. And with any street or locale, it has had its ups and downs, and what is visible today includes so many slices of the past; and what is here today is the now upon what the future will be built. and in the building facades so much is mixed and intertwined, and so much is dependent on what you look at.

But to the story that was told today. one of the guides talked about places having a different feel and ambiance, and having spent two months in a place that felt so different, i could relate to it; and it was he who talked of the stories that form a place, and how a place begun. San Francisco as a place that was once isolated and small, that exploded into life with the gold rush boom – of immigrants from far and wide, mainly young men who came here, searching riches and their dream – of a rough and tumble beginning, that somehow became this place.

Now the gold rush has fascinated me in many other locales – Victoria for one, where i spent so much time, and studied the history, and how the town became transformed, in my time spent there, and in heritage interpretation and tourism classes. And in Seattle, the Yukon and Alaska – how the rush for gold, that shiny metal, transformed so much of the land around. And the gold rush is one of the stories of many of the places i’ve been and i have wondered how much of that mythology has somehow been a part of my path – not the long journey over arduous terrain, to get to a place that is unknown, but the dream of finding riches of gold buried in the ground, the riches that for most were never found, and for the lucky few, the riches never lasted long. but the dream of finding that piece of gold that would somehow magically transform your life. And while so many lives were transformed, it was the journey, the chances taken, and the hard work that altered the path of their lives. And i wonder, if somehow i have been dreaming of that figurative piece of gold, easy for the taking in a cool stream, if only i knew where to look. But as with many, that is not the way the journey has taken place. Still, the rough and tumble beginnings, of seeming impermanence, laid a ground for this place, and the many myths that grew from it -the young men from around the globe, staking a claim not only on a plot of ground but on a new life of their dreams. and i remember this story played a part of my many decisions to move away from this place, to a land whose mythology was more closely tied to the spirit, but now i find myself back here.

As we went along, other myths and stories were told; the building up of the street – by the businessmen and industrialists and financiers who lived on another dream; the rebuilding of the city after the infamous earthquake and fire of 1906 – saying we will stay and build our future here, of the redevelopment of market street in the 80s after a period of decay (though you walk further down the street and it becomes a different place – still battered down). The financial district and the more industrial times still can be seen, the land that was reclaimed from the sea and that which has been built upon sand, the linking of two areas that were built on completely different grids laid out on different measurements and thus ways of seeing the world. The diversity in the current architecture,the old and the new intertwined, of old building facades remaining, a decision to preserve reminders of what was, transformed inside or fronting new towers that have been built up behind; and it begs the question of what do we keep and what do we tear down, all reflective of the values and visions that we have.

This tour did not cover many of the other stories that form part of what we call the city – the beats along columbus street, the hippies in haight ashbury, the gays and lesbians in the castro, the once thriving chinatown and so many more – those stories that have been told time and time again – that are linked more closely to mine – of those who came here to be themselves as a place they could be free, and it is so related to the myth of go west young (wo)man, to a place where you can be you. And there are so many other stories here both told and untold, of which i am either unaware, or are not at the forefront of my consciousness.

I wonder what myths are currently building up – those of which we are unaware – for it is often only later that the story comes together, the themes are recognized, that the fragments of notes are integrated into a meaningful whole – or more truthfully, another recognizable part of the while. what is being built right now – what story is being written? Not only for the city itself, but for my relation to it. Is it one of happy times, just temporary, like all those others on vacation here. Just what story have i written over these past several years, and how does this story relate to the larger whole – of the one i call myself, and the all of which i am a part? And have i written lines that become part of the larger story of this place we call San Francisco?

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Observing Place

I recently wrote about my sense of disconnection and i know it is a theme that appears throughout my writing. I realize that i often write about the energies of place from the standpoint of the observer, and not a participant. I know that the observer is never really separate, for the observer effects what is observed, but still, the energies i feel are from the point of view of the watcher, and the outsider.
I have gone through most of my life observing and not engaging. I travel through space and place but rarely connect. I seek to connect but do not know how. And i wonder is my role in life to stand outside watching? What does it mean to observe? Is it a valid place? Do i merely suck the energies in and not give back? And how does what i perceive both with my senses and energetically differ from that which i would if i were more engaged? Is writing a form of engagement?

Observing the energy of a place is much different than participating in an environment or an activity. I often wonder, do you “see” more clearly? do you really fail to “see” at all? Do you just “see” differently – that is from another perspective? For instance i remember my trip this summer; walking and cycling down the coast have different energies; sitting outside a campfire circle or quietly within, are different experience than building and maintaining a campfire, or participating in a conversation or drum circle there. Dancing, listening, singing or playing along to music are very different experiences, and while different types of music produce different energetic responses, the way which we engage also transforms both the energetic response and the energy itself. Likewise with sitting beside, walking beside, swimming in, boating on, or crossing over water; the form that the water takes – be it a small creek, a polluted river, a mountain lake, or an active ocean all elicit different responses and moods, but the manner in which we engage does even more. There is a great difference in how you will feel the energies of a small lake if you are watching children splash around in the water or it you are splashing around in it yourself. The action that we take, as well as our feelings and thought, are all forms of energy that in turn transform a place and affect other beings around.

I think back to my studies in sociology back in the 1980s when the paradigms were much different. My areas of study were social change and methodology, a seemingly contradiction, but both play into my current writing. The question of the role of the researcher, the observer, often came into play – is it possible to have an unbiased study? can you understand without participating? How does one’s presence effect what is being studied? The goal of the researcher was not to effect what was being studied. How much of that identity have i unconsciously drawn in, and how much have i attracted because it is my natural role?

With the change in paradigm, and the knowledge of the new physics and the discovery that yes, even with particles and waves, the observer effects what is observed, i think most accept that true objectivity does not exist. (what do you look at, what questions to you ask, what do you see and fail to see, just what lens do you wear for all is interpreted through a lens, what energies do you put out and attract). we all play a role in this cosmic dance and i wonder if i have been sitting on the sidelines for too long. (but then again, the bench or wall in a dancehall is as much of a place as the center of the floor)

I know that one of the reasons that the energies of a place often overcome me is because of my role as an observer – i let them come in, and do not put them out (but that is false, for energies are always put out), but i do not often seek to engage with or transform what is there. i am not neutral and what i write about is often my energy as well as that which the place emits. But is this a valid role? Do i need to accept this role as mine in life? And while i see myself as an observer, it there truly such a thing? Or am i in my small way, an enlightener after all?

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Months ago i set out to write about the energies and spirit of place but what this blog has ended up being is part travel journal and part a chronicle of my moods and emotions and has rarely achieved its purpose. I know that the story emerges as you write, but at the same time i want to try to get back to some of the original intent of this blog.

However, the more i become aware, the more i realize that it is impossible to separate the ‘i’ from the place where ‘i’ am, or even the place i wish to write about. especially now – as i realize the importance of the intangibles of a place – its spirit – not only in nature or in elements, but that which lies behind or beyond the 3D – the spirits of the human presence – of love, fear, caring, conflict, closure, that can be felt and that linger on – and the spirits of the elements and that which we have created in the material realm.

For with everything, our perception is selective, and i can never be sure – is it the place or is it me? Especially when i visit places that i have been before, and that have been significant to me, for part of what lay there is ‘my’ history and the remnants of my own thoughts and feelings are part of the energies that lay there. At times i talk to others and hear a confirmation of what i feel – but other times there are a multitude of feelings about a given place – or occasionally a dichotomy, of perceptions diametrically opposed. And what is the relation between the actors and the locale of the action. Thus all i write is selective, and can change from day to day.

Places have a mood and an ambiance beyond my personal view of it – and in all i am an actor and not merely an observer who stands outside. What is the relationship between the ‘i’ and the locale – how much of the ‘i’ is projected, and how much does the locale impact the ‘i’? How much are ones vibrational patterns in or out of sync with the dominant vibrations in a place. And at times i still must wonder if all is but a dream. Why is one drawn to a place and what pushes one away. And just what do ‘i’ focus on? what is filtered through my lens? what energies do i attract, manifest or push away? For the interplay is continuous and multi-levelled – in terms of thoughts, feelings, experiences, consciousness, and energetic or vibrational interchange. There is so much interplay of which we are barely aware, but that is no less real. And of what are we consciously aware – in terms of sight, smell, sound, touch, taste, feeling, vibrations – and how much more do we register inside.

What is the relation between the material, and that which lay beyond the five senses with which we are accustomed to perceive? Every place has its histories, and how much of it is felt in what one experiences now – and in what way does one feel the impact of what has gone on before though one does not ‘know” and what does it mean to ‘know’ – like those times you have had a feeling and only read or heard something later that confirms what came to you. And what is more enduring or cyclical as if “belonging” to the place, and what is much more temporary “belonging” more to the moment at hand. Then again, what is ‘a moment’ and can you separate time and space?

Precisely what does one mean by place – where do the boundaries begin and end? For within every place there are a multitude of larger and smaller overlapping zones, and there are zones that encompass many geographically dispersed physical places – each similar but unique. And what about places without a physical locale – for instance, the zones in cyberspace. What is the relation between the places we encounter on the material realm and those in other dimensions?

So i guess this blog will still be haphazard for it is so hard to bring it all together. And i know i will continue to write my feelings, memories and about the mystical/peak/trancendent experiences i have,  – but hopefully without getting too caught up in the “me”, and about the material world and  dimensions  and the spirit of a place. soon i hope to have a focus and to write some more of my generalized thoughts, insights and philosophies.

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