The essence of Life and Spirit is found in this eclectic land of stone and heat, thorn and spiral. Stories are contained in the watercolors of bone-dry canyons and dusty horizons... These words are a love letter for the vastness of wild land, the mercurial nature of desert creatures and the holy presence of Life transcending constraint.
A Short Essay on Two Worlds
Painting by Erik Heyninck for Dreams & Divinities
Recently, I had the pleasure to learn that one of the poems I had contributed to a book and exhibit, Dreams & Divinities, was read at a poetry reading in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. While elated by the honor, I was also saddened by the fact that I couldn’t participate in the flesh and see the lovely neotropical gardens, the cobbled courtyards, and the exquisite architecture of the region, as well as be among artists, writers, and visionaries from across continents, countries, and states.
As I reviewed photographs of the various ceremonies and events, I found myself imagining – through my mind’s eye and creative pulse – these scenes more vividly. I felt the cool breath of a local cave, the dripping water palpating against stone, the darkness, the dance of feathers, and limbs rattling oracles. I smelled the thick white blooms that dressed the streets and fell across exposed carts and tiny storefronts. I heard laughter and saw wise eyes, new friendships being made. I experienced the feeling of embraces and kisses on the air, across balconies - a rare, beautiful music of a fleeting moment.
By quieting my mind and prompting imagination, the dreaming to enter in, I was able to appreciate the experiences of these enraptured moments as an expression of my own curiosity and wonder. What’s interesting about the process of daydreaming is that it can be as real as directly experiencing. What we assign as actual reality, after all, is just as bound by perception and interpretations as imagining or dreaming.
“The appearance of things changes according to the emotions; and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.”
― Kahlil Gibran
As a poet, I often place myself in an oceanic feeling or altered state of otherworldliness, consciousness or perception. I think this is why writing poetry is a bridge to magic and why I have always believed in the effect of imagination, sensation, and enchantment.
While I don’t have these particular perfumed gardens, I have the small roses of place, the luxury of transformation, and rapturous, sensual delights of fantasy. Through this, I am able to connect to the sacred in all places - in alleys, where the tiniest weeds poke through asphalt – to the misunderstood xeriscaped yards of the desert Southwest.
The appearance or essence is what we choose to see.
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora
In a world of abbreviation and sound bites, I wonder of we lose the ability to fully embrace imagination, in which focus, dedication, and effort are required. I wonder, too, if our connection to the senses and that, which requires sensory perception, the sensual life is subterfuged by immediacy and entertainment.
Ritual asks us to put aside reason and opt for wonder. To experience other people, places, and things from a seat of intuition and imagination defies the belief that all can be accessed from one’s computer or phone.
Seeds - Jade Leyva-Frouge, Dreams & Divinities
“All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want. But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods
The realm of the extraordinary demands interaction rather than isolation (although at times the magician, the healer, the sensualist wanders alone) and voyeurism. The process of imagination – and dare I say, healthy fantasy - depends on heartfelt experiences with those who challenge our comfort zones, common habits, and beliefs.
As important as dreaming is to self-understanding, so too is actual travel to understand life from a wider lens. Travel is enlightening and wakes us up to our habits. Leaving can be the vehicle in which we shake loose our ego when we rely only upon the affirmations of our tight community. To leave, we learn that our vision is not so tidy or infallible. To stay, we may think we have answers, but remain limited by the smallness of our personal version of reality.
Our answers, we may find, become questions once more if we remain open.
Under the cypress trees in my backyard, I think of the courtyards I may never see. Even my dreamscapes of mossy banks, limestone caves, and richly perfumed streets may elude me. But, here in the desert I dream poems into being and send them off into the world.
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