Close or Far

When Jose and I visited the Grand Canyon we were admiring the Temple of Shiva, a mesa standing apart from the North Rim. In the late afternoon light the warm colors of the canyon were increasingly spectacular, and Shiva was shimmering in violet, rose and gold. After a few moments Jose went to read an info-graphic nearby, and came back to report that the Temple was over 9 miles away. Not only that, but the North Rim in general was 14 to 18 miles away. Our jaws dropped, minds boggled, and we were challenged to believe our eyes.

Temple of Shiva is the highest point on the horizon

NINE MILES? Really? We could see it so clearly!

One of the great pleasures of the west is the mind sensation of seeing over such vast spaces. It certainly draws visitors to the Canyon. I know I gloried in the many broad vistas we enjoyed in our travels. Even in crowded the Bay Area a trip across any of the bridges opened up into a soaring space. Our visit to Marin Highlands was literally dizzying for me.  I could swim, fly, soar and plunge in all that magnificent visual space.

click for larger version

I learned a new word from Astrologer Rob Brezhny in this week’s reading. He writes:

The German word *Fernweh* can be translated as “wanderlust.” Its literal meaning is “farsickness,” or “an ache for the distance.”

Now that I’m back in lush, forested Southern Maryland, I’m finding the intimate treed locations to be claustrophobic. I am grateful or the shade, I love the greens, the rustling sounds, the many, many birds. But I’m pining for the wide-open spaces where my mind’s eye can soar. I am so glad to be home, my lovely home and friends, yet I am experiencing farsickness, feeling it like a physical longing in my bones. I am aching for distance, pining for that vastness, that wilderness of a scale that swamps my ability to measure it.

Brezhny quotes poet Robert Haas:

We call it “longing” because desire is full of endless distances.

In the rest of my weekly reading the astrologer challenges me and other Scorpios to explore the yearning and the distance, and find ways to bridge the gulf. I know that I feel much more in possession of my citizenship of this vast country, having made this trip. I stayed connected to a close friend who was moving away, in fact deepened our relationship. Attending a business conference far from home, I cemented  relationships with colleagues and potential partners all across the country. I’ve spanned some great distances within myself, stretching to be connected to people in new ways.

And I am remembering how I carry those great spaces within myself. I can return to that canyon rim in my meditation and feel the sensation of awe that reminds me:

(I am large; I contain multitudes)

Now, where shall I go from here?

10 thoughts on “Close or Far

  1. Josephine Withers May 26, 2013 — 8:41 pm

    Friend Jose chiming in here. Somewhere along the Western forever road I shared with Patrise and you, her faithful subscribers, my childhood memories of summers spent in western Kansas, with its uninterrupted and crystal-clear perspectives off to the horizon, watching mile-long wheat trains slipping over the horizon. And my sense of claustrophobia upon returning to my home turf, the crowded, lush landscape of West Newbury Mass. Now Patrise has offered up Brezhny/Robert Haas’s longing, farsickness as another way of articulating that sensation. And here’s another. I am half-remembering the observation of friend Mary Baker Rentschler, who offers the neurological perspective, that our brains crave (long for) the long distance view, like it’s something our whole mind/body needs in order to stay in balance.

    So where I live now, in a compact suburban area, I need to travel to satisfy that longing. That’s useful information, as I go about finding a place to roost.

    1. It’s true — and well said, Jose. Our longing for the expansive visually, sensually must be satisfied. I’m in Illinois, and remembering the way the landscape, which seems so flat and unremarkable to the cranky mind, is also a revelation of the amazingness of the sky. The clouds here, the thunder, the mist, the way the space expands, not with the depth of the Grand Canyon, but with the power of more ordinary vistas, is really satisfying. So for me, I remember I can find that magnificence in a lot of places, in really satisfying ways.

    2. Dearest Josephine,
      My childhood summers were in Western Pennsylvania that have lovely rolling green hills and especially loved our Summer Sunday Drives to Pymatuning Dam – we were members of the CENTURY CLUB, which was simply a Farm House on the Dam that had Bedrooms (where younger kids would be put down for an afternoon nap); a float you could swim to by jumping off the Dock. It was a great way to escape the boring adults that were just sitting around, either reading or talking (like I do now and appreciate the respite). In the late afternoon grilling began in the old Barbecue Pit, sometimes Badminton Bats would appear, the feathered ball would be gently tapped back and forth between smiling players. Life was good~& it still is; but I still need help with my measures of time…how do I prioritize the Have TOS vs the creative Should Do? I need to listen more for the other gentle noises in my life now.

      Some Saturday Mornings I attend a Buddhist Mindfulness Session @ my Church – THat is helpful.

      Then I realized I have two perfect examples of Mindfulness in my own home:
      Aphie and Tigger, the Beautiful Tabby 6 yrs’ old cats you gave me.

      They lay there – ears perked up; legs tucked in and eyes closed…mindfulness….

      Thank you for these gifts 😉 !

  2. waaaaaaw !!!! I held my breath for a moment when I saw this picture !!!

  3. Breathtaking….indeed, the yin and yan….sometimes, ” where do we go?”…. is here. and now, as you say. Thanks so much for sharing this experience, Patrise and Josephine.

  4. Fabulous foto! I’m going to enjoy your process in answering your last question!

  5. As one who knows of Fernweh, I am join the ranks who strive to increase the dosage of unfolding savannah, from whence we so long ago all came, and what is still hardwired within or lizard brains.

    A good goal, proximate lushness, but having the chance to switch mental lenses from macro to telephoto is of import. A close witch-hazel tree, a distantly stretching field of broam all within one eye-sweep is a boon.

    And that goes for friends. It is telling, when a soulmate or other close-person can be seen as proximate, though they be leagues distant. Being alert to the crispness of the mental zoom, gained by being in tune. When folks are on the same spiritual wavelength, it eases the poignancy of Fernweh, Heimweh, Wanderlust, and the lust for greener grass… Chemistry Trumps Logistics.

  6. MS Patrise: Perhaps its time for a July trip to our Open Space on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge…might that temporarily relieve your longing – and I’ll buy us a lunch of Crab Cakes and fried Soft Shell crabs, and pay for the tank-of-gas that gets is there…

    1. Whoops – not gets IS there…but gets US there! *\[|;-o)

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