The Yoga of Travel and … The Hero’s Journey

A sunset scene - country road in America's heartland

A private corn field near Utica Illinois bisected by a country road at sunset

The "Universal Eye Media" publishing logo - this blog shares about culture, travel, trucking and a simple lifestyle.

A blog and You Tube channel sharing about culture, travel and a simple lifestyle.

A winding road through the Jamaican sugar cane and bamboo fields.

Traveling through Jamaica we drive fast when the roads cooperate, feeling the wind, and listening to the crickets singing the song of the universe.

Black and white mage of white lines in highway blending into horizon.

Ultra smooth and new highway in Ohio early morning. Surreal feeling traveling on it almost like a sled in the sky.

Square photograph of a black & white country road

Rural Road in Virginia adjacent to a field and wildlife refuge.

Many Americans think of yoga as physical exercise, they know much of the practice involves a series of postures or “asanas” and narrowly focus on using yoga to be fit,  ignorant of the larger possibilities. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” which means “to join” or “to yoke.” The term was used to refer to the yoking together of horses and/or oxen but it came to mean the joining together of the body and mind for the purpose of seeking the divine (my personal interpretation and there are many).  Yoga involves breathing and meditation techniques as well as the discipline of physical postures and flows. Many schools exist with different orientations aimed at optimizing health and well being as well as guiding the student to consciously progress in the spiritual life.

Most of the seekers on the path to enlightenment acknowledge that this life is filled with the illusion of separation from the divine. Many spiritual disciplines aim to pierce the “veil” and bring us back “home” to our creator. We seek the literal “kingdom of heaven on earth” by embracing the great mystery and paradox that we must leave “home” or our own comfort zone to reunite with the essential self and shatter the illusions of the world. They say we forget the reality of our “true” – higher self, that we only remember in glimpses perhaps when we dream. The task of life is to remember, once again our true nature; to “know” it in our day-to-day reality. To “hear” this truth in the silent times that contain the seeds of all wisdom.

Travel necessitates leaving “home” and like Odysseus and others who Joseph Campbell said embark on “The Hero’s Journey” we must sometimes leave one world behind to find another. We may seek pleasure, adventure, gain or employment but most must strike out on their own in this life in the process of individuation, survival and/or evolution.

My “Hero’s Journey” involves a new career in commercial truck driving. In parallel my heart’s desire and gifts have led me to write an ebook for tourists to Jamaica with my partner, Fureus. Our book, Island Voices, Reggae and New Jamaican Music bridges culture and new music for the contemporary traveller.

Either in the air or on the road we who are moving from place to place are warriors and of an independent and odd tribe. I was forced to leave home in search of employment and have become a combination monk and American cowboy as a professional driver/nomad. Seeking to get to Jamaica as often as possible I am facing many challenges and having to live very simply. I experience much austerity and, often the gifts of random kindness while observing a full spectrum of humanity unknown to soccer Moms, cubicle dwellers and suburban commuters.

I practice yoga in my day to day life on the truck and maintain simple eating habits.  I am grateful for fresh food and water when I get it.  I discipline my body and especially my mind to maintain balance or otherwise be thrust into an emotional quicksand of sorts longing as I do for my home and missing the comforts of my lover, friends and animals.

Writing this blog and sharing my journey through photos and in the future video on my You Tube channel is one way I make sense of the hardships I encounter daily. My sense of the beautiful has expanded this year and my sensibilities as an artist are changing as I hone into the essential. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said in his great book, The Little Prince:  “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

It is a mystery and another paradox that we photographers and artists seek always to express what is in our heart through our work.  Visit this blog often to share my journey and in doing so the deepest recesses of my heart.

 

 

Kiss the Sky

Composite of Sierra Nevada mountains in California with New Mexico morning sky.

“Ghost” image of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the west combined with morning sky taken in New Mexico headed east.

 

Dramatic dark sky taken in June in Duncans, Trelawny, Jamaica - W.I.

Rain threatens the Jamaican coast in June creating a dramatic dark sky.

Unforgettable clouds create a painterly image of the Florida sky

Beautiful clouds above the Atlantic Ocean taken on a July summer’s day from a Jupiter Island home.

A perfect Florida sky reflects in the still waters of the Indian River amid the mangroves

A peaceful scene taken from the red bridge on Harbour Island, a private garden sanctuary on Jupiter Island, Florida.

Driving through North Dakota heavy fog dissipates as the sun pierces through the mist

A strange image of the sun reflecting through the fog in North Dakota – early morning.

“The sky and the strong wind have moved the spirit inside me till I am carried away trembling with joy.”

This quote is attributed to Uvanuk, a female (shaman) of the Greenland Inuit. It is thought that Knud Rasmussen the Danish polar explorer and anthropologist, captured her thoughts in the early 20th century. The legend of Uvanuk is that she went outside her dwelling to urinate and a ball of fire (maybe a meteorite) fell from the sky and hit her. When she revived her consciousness she began spontaneously chanting a poem:

The great sea moves me, the great sea sets me adrift! It moves me like algae on stones in running brook water. The vault of heaven moves me! The mighty weather storms through my soul. It tears me with it. And I tremble with joy.”

Whenever she chanted this song Uvanuk was said to have psychic powers and could tell the misdeeds of people in her presence. (From the book Mystical Experiences: Wisdom in Unexpected Places from Prisons to Main Street by Jack Farrell).

Under the great sky even the mundane can become magnificent. One can only imagine Uvanuk’s experience of the sky in a vast wilderness of ice and snow. There the sky and horizon become one. My experience of the sky is more as a constant companion with a changing temperament.

When driving I’ve come to anticipate the dawn and dusk and the changing colors so filled with light and subtle energy. The morning sky is especially welcome after a night of darkness when I must fight sleep. But always the intensity of colors and light is a gift for the eyes and the spirit.  In the United States, to the east and to the west as the sun rises and sets, the light changes by the minute and one learns to savor the quick moments the sky takes on personality at once calm and bright and then menacing and unforgiving.

Dark clouds become heaven’s flowers when kissed by light” said the poet, Rabindranath Tagore. Storm clouds and the sudden darkness of a summer’s day is welcome in Florida where rains come like blizzards in the summer. Those of us who live in the tropics like Jamaica or Florida know the summer brings the rain and sometimes lightning too – a dangerous combination. The purity of the air after these rains is to be remembered always.

The spring sky is filled with the movement of birds migrating north. Too long they have been away. They come with sudden, unexpected bursts into view and then are gone. What does it mean to “kiss the sky” like Jimi Hendrix said? Embrace the sky, taste the sky, study the sky, glad it’s blue, red and velvet. We haven’t even talked about the night sky. Another time…

Waves of Snow on Interstate 80 in Wyoming

Driving across Interstate 80 at daybreak in Wyoming high winds rip across the road. Snow blows in ripples beautiful but scary powerful. Coming first from the southeast and then from the northwest, the wind blows. The waves of snow come like trails of a woman’s long hair. The big bright moon shines upon the wild world.  A moon at daybreak is always a special sight.

The scene is surreal.  I am taking the video as my colleague, Helena drives. We are both quiet and reverent, respectful of this force of nature. Wyoming is known for the dangerous winds and many times the speed limits is only 35 mph on an road that is usually 75 mph for cars.

snow_wyoming1

The Language of Trees

“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven,” said Rabindranath Tagore.

“God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying ‘Ah’…” Joseph Campbell.

Travel necessitates the experience of being encased in metal and steel: cars, planes and for me, eighteen wheeler tractor trucks towing trailers across America. Instead of walking barefoot in the sand of Florida’s or Jamaica’s beaches where I have homes, I find myself in dirty parking lots stained with oil and usually strewn with trash. My heart yearns for the natural places I love. It’s no wonder the images I most enjoy creating are of trees, nature, ocean and sky.

Lately I’ve been thinking about aging yet know we are immortal beings having a human experience. As a 21st century woman it is slight comfort, we who have been brainwashed to value our worth on youth and looks. The battle of the ego over true self is the task of life and I’m a dedicated warrior.

In the truck I listen to audio books and music as I drive.  I get most of the books from LibriVox an organization that provides audio books that are in the public domain.The books are free and have been recorded by volunteers.  I’ve been listening to Hans Christian Andersen, a favorite author known for his fairy tales and highly revered in his home country of Denmark; most people are unaware that he was a accomplished traveler. Wikipedia says “Andersen took heed of some of the contemporary conventions about travel writing, but always developed the genre to suit his own purposes. Each of his travelogues combines documentary and descriptive accounts of the sights he saw with more philosophical passages on topics such as being an author, immortality, and the nature of fiction in the literary travel report.”

Andersen’s stories are mythical fables woven with magic, tenderness and a universal view of humanity. He conveys a mystical understanding of the depths of human kindness and benevolence contrasted with our demon nature when we are overtaken with greed and striving.

As I planned to write this post I knew I wanted to share images of trees and I remembered the story by Hans Christian Andersen called “The Old Oak Tree’s Last Dream.” It is the story of a grand oak tree that finally “dies” in a winter storm being torn up by the wind. Before this, the tree has a magnificent dream, reminiscent of a stellar acid trip or cosmic moment when the one is united with the many and the universe is perceived as a speck of dust and all eternity united as one.  One part of the story is an interchange between him and a “May fly” – Ephemora, a species of fly which lives for only one day. They speak about the relativity of their life spans – the tree, “thousands of seasons and the fly, thousands of moments.

These musings prompt me to encourage each of you who has taken the time to read this post to give thanks for this moment and plant trees whenever you are able.

Stunning poinciana trees in bloom are enjoyed throughout Jamaica. This beautiful specimen graces the road to the pristine public beach in Duncans, Jamaica.

A stately Poinciana in bloom overlooks the road to the beach in Duncans, Jamaica. It is always a welcoming sight for both locals and tourists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This artistic expression of young trees in Oregon depicts their "bones" in the dead of winter.

A group of young trees taken in winter from the highway in Oregon.

 

 

 

 

 

A birch tree amid fall colors in Sundance, Utah.

Fall colors at Sundance in Utah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taken in the neighborhood of Spicy Hill - Duncans, Jamaica the Tamarind tree has a sour fruit.

Tamarind tree at dusk in Duncans, Jamaica.

Ideas & Obsessions

Experimental portrait. Photographer in the pool. It was too cold for the model.

Experimental portrait. Photographer in the pool. It was too cold for the model.

An orange maple leaf floating in a pool of green water lit from below

An orange maple leaf floating in a hot tub at night.

A young woman in a pink bathing suit floating in a clear pool. She's about 9.

Brandi floating in pool Duncans, Jamaica

Blue, almost purple lights reflecting in green water

A photo of Christmas lights reflecting in the water.

I’ve been obsessed for years about the idea of taking portraits of women in the water. I wanted to call them “Ophelia Portraits” after Hamlet’s lover who drowned from her madness. Pictured in many paintings and other images she usually has flowers strewn in the water and long, hair – a vacuous look on her face. I had also seen a portrait I liked of a male celebrity and he was standing fully dressed in a soaked shirt and tie. I liked the look.

Now that I’m a fan of Pintrest, I find hundreds of beautiful, haunting photos of water. Sometimes people are there and often they are not. Submerged or just wet, eyes closed looking like they are dreaming – dressed or naked I gravitate to the images.

The portrait of me in the pool was my first attempt. My model was too cold to get wet; it was December in Southern California but still very chilly though the pool was heated. I asked her to work with me because she was tall, blonde, had a lovely face and I also thought she would make a good photographer. My friend said this image reminds her of a crime scene and I agree mostly because of the look on my face. When I showed it to people on my iPhone they always turned it vertically and then it looked even more strange. This was the only image I thought worked at any level and mostly because I liked the curve of the arm. I worked hard to get the arm curve and it wasn’t easy thrashing around in the water trying to float and move with elegance at the same time.

I always feel vulnerable about sharing images especially when I compare myself to the other photographers and the images on Pintrest. This I find is a character defect. Usually though I listen to the image and it tells me to share. Brandi is a favorite model besides Fureus in Jamaica and this was taken when she was only nine. I also have another photo of her ‘doe eyed’ face on the home page of my publishing and consulting site. The leaf and water images were also taken in California during the winter.

I like the colors and patterns in the water. It’s like fog and smoke those things we can’t control or predict.

“Island Voices Reggae & New Jamaican Music” – Get Out of the Cold and Visit Jamaica

cover of our ebook/digital music guide

Island Voices Reggae & New Jamaican Music -an Ebook/Digital Music Guide for Tourists & Visitors to the Island.

The United States is experiencing the dead of winter, snow, ice and below freezing temperatures. For those who can escape, why not go to Jamaica and experience the blue, green island and the beautiful people there. When you go, take our book on your smartphone or digital reading tablet. It links to hundreds of songs, artists and websites that you can explore. Don’t feel like a stranger – feel at home with the people and their culture through a love of the music. Reggae is education through music and each generation evolves the music further.

In addition, if you need a guide while you are there, I can hook you up with Fureus, a rap composer, producer and co-author of our book that can show you the secret, best places.

Click on the link on the home page of this blog “My Book” to buy the ebook. Call me or Fureus or email us from our book page. Happy Travels!