I Came to Yosemite Because I Had To

The following post is excerpted from a journal I wrote while on a trip to Yosemite in April of 2013. The photos were taken then as well. I hope the writing conveys the incredible beauty and power of the spot.

I came to Yosemite because I had to; I was dying inside—I needed to visit my mother, Sierra Madre.

She did not disappoint. I thanked God when I entered his country in the rolling cow pastures of Route 140 E leading to the mountains.

red-buds-by-river

At every turn, as we passed the cows and quaint, decaying barns, my spirit orgasmed anew at each unfolding landscape. The thrusting force of spirits too grand but to respect, striating a wall of multi-colored mosaic rectangles—often forming facades that look like elaborate entryways to posh buildings … And then as we fronted the river, I was awed over and over by the ebullient profusion of “Red Buds,” the deep magenta blossoms of the trees that I had never before observed in bloom. I breathed in deeply, trying to contain my bounding spirit within my body. This was BLISS.

All of this as an accompaniment to the white-capped, gray, and very swift Merced River, the breadth of its imminent stateliness unignorable …

bridalveil-falls-1

I love being up here. It’s away from everything. We discovered that our cell phones don’t even work here! After a great day in Yosemite Valley, we came back to our room in the late afternoon and tried the outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. The pool was COLD (as in unheated). I and a couple of kids 7 or under were the only ones who could stay in longer than 30 seconds (that was just about their limit). I did a good number of laps and then went into the burning hot spa. Then I went back into the pool to do more laps, and then back to the spa again. I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to swim in the beautiful mountain air, with the sound of a very full Merced River roaring close at hand.

bridalveil-falls-2

After breakfast at the lodge, we left for the Valley at about 9:00 a.m. As the weather report had predicted, it started to rain a few, big drops at the lodge before we left for our day’s adventures. Approaching the park, I tried to limit my landscape-gawking and picture-taking stops to 2 or 3. Even in the rain, I stuck my Canon Power Shot out the window, braving the raindrops on the lens, to try and capture just a hint of the glory of the Merced coursing its thunderous yet graceful path, white-tipped, past rocks and boulders in the gorge below.

fallen-log-w-forest-backgrd

Every feature of the surrounding roadside gave me spiritual ecstasy. I would say that I was on overload, but that would describe a state of excess or toxicity; this was more like bliss—like being reunited with everything I love, like coming home to the warm, loving bosom of my Sierra Madre, whose love is rapture, and who opens the souls and spirit to join with her beauty. Who heals above every other healer; whose truth, just in its very existence, is proof of the Great Spirit.

We arrived at Bridal Veil Falls at about 9:30 a.m. There was only one other vehicle in the parking lot near the glorified outhouses: a red sports car. The gently, yet persistent rain pelted us tenderly with wet, clammy kisses. I couldn’t help taking compulsive film clips of the water tumbling down from its 300-foot summit. With every few feet closer I approached, I felt the roar more loudly, and saw the mist shooting up more clearly as it smashed against the rocks below and vaporized.

Never had I seen the falls like this. The spring snowmelt is the most turgid and elemental event in the mountains.

Beauty here—reminding me of a spiritual experience I had at Multnomah Falls in Oregon’s Columbia River Valley on a walkabout I had made in my early 30s. Captivating, gentle, cultivated; a home for wood-nymphs and Native American girls with long, braided tresses, singing in the burbles of the stream. I felt their presence, though their voices melded with the soothing shushing of the water.

moss-by-river

We felt enclosed in a green sanctuary, safe, and invited to experience the beingness of the spot. The spirit sees as it feels, and the mind stops for a moment, as it hears that which does not speak. Wooed by the essence of love, every little drop, leaf, and branch became an expression of divinity.

We were the only ones approaching the crashing water. Even the ethereal mist that evolved from the chute seemed to speed downhill, caught up in the general thrust of the ponderous column’s momentum. We got as close to the base of the fall as we could, sprayed with heavy, wild mist that pelted harder than the rain. Looking up, I could see the gray and white rock-face, scarred on two sides of the fall with features cut into its surface. I saw two eyes, equally spaced around the waterfall: the great spirit of the falls had a face! New respect for its power was instilled in my soul.

leaf-on-ground close-up-of-bark

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Life Before Internet: From Dinosaurs to the Divine

cyber-dino
(Source Unknown)

I recently read an article on LinkedIn entitled What it feels like to be the last generation to remember life before the internet by Magali Lopez, Ed.D. She discusses two recent books that examine the qualitative, everyday difference between socializing online and off, and noting that it is easy to judge your own worth on how many “likes” your profile picture has gotten. I am one of those who has experienced both the BI and the AI (Before Internet and After Internet) worlds. Working all day with, and being a mom to, millennial generation adolescents, I have had a chance to observe first-hand the difference the Internet has made in our lives.

1) Constant Connection — Millennial teens always have a smart phone within buzzing distance, and it goes off literally thousands of times a day. Whether it’s a text message or a SnapChat or an Instagram picture, they’re in constant touch with their network. I personally would find this maddening, but it is accepted as a commonplace part of life. Sometimes I wonder why I’m so unpopular–why don’t I get a thousand buzzes a day? Another aspect of constant connectedness is the willingness to share everything–pictures, information, opinions, etc–online. I think my generation was taught to be a lot less sharing with information.

2) The Deification of Technology–While millennials are quick to adopt and learn to use new technologies, I have noticed that the word and concept of “technology” has taken on an almost mystical status among non-millennials (BI’s), who are always looking forward to the next “best thing.” Tech developers create a mystique around newer, smaller, gadgets and faster, more biometric, more geo-location capable apps. Voice, fingerprint, and face recognition technologies are emerging into the consumer electronics sector. It’s true that data can be measured, tabulated, and communicated in modes many orders higher than previously. It is also true that following Moore’s Law, the speed and efficiency of technological devices doubles approximately every two years. And it is futher true, as Arthur C. Clarke remarked, that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That which we can’t understand must be magic. Businesses, individuals, and the education industry are swept up in the promise of this new, magical technology, which to some seems to take on almost divine proportions. Its followers are the believers who don’t yet fully understand its scope or implications, but who nonetheless sense that by purchasing on the “cutting edge,” they are headed toward the light of superior knowledge and power. They know innately that it is better to be associated with those who have the latest technology than with those who don’t. Companies such as Apple and Google capitalize on the magic, almost religious cachet of their products, perpetuating the heat-seeking cult of the techno-divine.

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 2.48.52 PM
The Timex Sinclair 1000 (1982) (www.cracked.com)

100 Years of High Tech

IMG_1239What’s this? Is it the Enigma Machine made famous again recently in the film The Imitation Game? No. That’s not what this is. It’s the keyboard for a Monotype machine, one of the last machines to produce individual type for letterpress printing. The Monotype machine was unveiled at San Francisco’s 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition (now celebrating its centennial with programs and exhibits around San Francisco). With the machine, operators were able to create individual pieces of metal type required for a specific print job, specifying not only the letters they needed, but also the spacing and special characters. On the other end of the system, a Monotype caster would pop out the individual type, cast out of a molten metal mixture using a matrix of individual brass character molds. This was cutting-edge high-tech at the time. It sped up the typesetting process by creating all the individual characters needed on demand, rather than having to search through typecases and hoping you had enough t’s, r’s, e’s, etc. to set a given job.

Now of course, we type on the computer and text on our phones, and can change the size, style, and font of our words almost instantaneously. But letterpress printing was the name of the game from the 1440s when Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type until the mid-20th Century, when offset printing took over as the dominant form of graphic reproduction. In the 1980s, however, letterpress printing experienced a revival, as appreciators of the fine, old-timey craft created a demand for old-fashioned, high quality printing. Nothing in modern printing compares with the “bite” of real metal type into the paper, creating a highly tactile art form.

On February 28th, 2015, the Monotype system was on display at the centennial Open House of M & H Type, a craft foundry that has partnered with Arion Press, both housed in San Francisco’s Presidio, where they continue to publish limited-run, fine-art books for the discerning bibliophile. M & H type has the only monotype foundry that runs year-round, continuously since 1915.

India’s ‘festival of lights’

In the midst of all the ghoulishness and turmoil of our western calendar, here’s a bright spot!

Yoga & Joyful Living

Every year in autumn, Indians are celebrating Diwali, or Deepavali, by lighting earthen lamps and distributing sweets. Firecrackers are part of it, too. So what’s it all about?

The “festival of lights” is a cornerstone of the Indian calendar. Each year, Indians celebrate – in a symbolic way – the eternal conflict between good and bad and (of course!) the victory of the good. Lighting lamps signifies the victory of light over darkness, and hope over despair.

In yogic terms this can be understood as a renewal of our inherent capacity for clarity in thought, word and action. Lighting a lamp signifies the dominance of sattvic qualities over rajas and tamas which are considered to be chaotic fluctuations.

And not only Indians in India are celebrating – Diwali is an official holiday in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji and Pakistan.

Here’s some eye candy, and maybe some inspiration for future trips! 

Happy travels,

~ Andrea

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