touching the earth
"I raced the unravelling sunset to the edge of the cardboard-and-vinyl village. the simple horizon: a festive strip of orange punctuated by shimmering ribbons. the sky faded at indiscernible intervals into a sheet cake of airbrushed violet and black. a single hopeful star lit the southern sky over unrunnable hills.
I searched the wreckage of the desert for remaining hints of its genius and found it in tiny molars of quartzite, cratered basalt nuggets, and a dormant strip of sagebrush that certainly did not belong in my pocket."
In Buddhist record the Buddha was tempted by his internal demons in the form of Mara. Repeatedly, Mara incarnated to test Buddha in the form of a beautiful woman, the form of distraction, and various other internal obstacles.
In the final and most challenging form of all Mara chided Buddha calling him a fake, told him he was unworthy and certainly not the enlightened one, that he was a fake teacher--trying to install self-doubt. Finally, Mara demanded a witness to Buddha's Buddhahood. Rather than resist or respond, Buddha touched the earth and with this simple act defeated his internal demons, Mara.
The earth is always there for each of us when we are in doubt; it is our broader body that we can call upon in times of internal ugliness. As I run, sometimes for days at a time, I imagine each footfall being my feeble call of liberation, my hopeless request for confirmation from the earth. Each strike uttering 'here', 'now', 'deep', 'quiet' the earth honors my requests silently bearing their weight. In this way running is not a rush, it is a painstaking foot prostration around each volcano, tree, or other pile of earth I worship.
I wrote the bit above and took this photo on New Year's Eve at the last untamed edges of sageland in a part of Washington tainted by generations of nuclear folly. As I touched the earth in this seemingly unholy place I could feel some of its wisdom and wildness remaining and my heart spilled over into that sorbet sliver over the quarantined hill on the horizon in the image.
This picture is available on my Etsy shop as an 8"x10" fine art glicee print carefully packaged to ship. You may then creatively mat and frame (or not) as you prefer. If you'd like this print in another size, I am happy to accomodate that request.