There’s a strange thing I do from time to time when I find myself alone in the quiet. There isn’t a way to put it that doesn’t make me sound a bit “off”, so I’ll just be straight - I try to telepathically communicate with inanimate or natural things. I just sit before them receptively, feel reverence and curiosity, and ask:
“what do you know?”
I try to be as still as possible and bring openness and presence into my whole being. I try to be one word: a LISTENER.
It started one fall in a sandstone canyon of Utah. It was high noon and hot in an empty weathered bowl of rock where an eddy had once roamed. My mouth dropped open and my eyes climbed heights to delicate lace in the rock face— up, up, up to the place where a river’s spiraling current had once worked like a chisel. It looked like the fixation of a restless and anxious mind had finally released its circular grip of thought patterns, flushed away, and left behind evidences of its obsessions in patterns of untold beauty.
”what do you know, Canyon?”
I asked the empty, cavernous sandstone, cupping sunlight, with its history written on the walls as frankly as an autobiography.
“Let go.” It said. “Let go.”
So like the river once rushed on downstream, so did I. I flowed between its walls and coursed through its ghostly dry chambers.
It happened the second time late at night. I was in a restless prowl of the vacant and crumbling streets of a mid-evil French fortress, and I came to a gaited graveyard. I gripped both hands on the bars and pressed my forehead in between them to get a clear look. I felt the cool iron on my temples and stared long at the timeworn marble headstones. They glowed white with moon and shuddered with leaf shadow.
“What do you know, Graveyard?”
“Surrender”, the headstones whispered. “Surrender.”
So did I. I sat down and cried quiet tears on a stone bench between the star-studded sky and the twinkling town down in the sleepy countryside. I cried for the things I can't control, and then gave them to eternity. I felt warm wind on my face. I said “Here, bright night— take my fight. Dissolve it. I wave a white-flag full of moon.”
Needless to say, this has become my meditation, my mantra. Conversations with things un-human.
I did it just last week with the poppy.
I am captivated by the poppy. Its crooked, furry stems holding up heavy nodding heads, its violent rush of orange and rice paper petals. Its universe-black seeds and opiate secrets. I’ve painted it and painted it, and painted it again.
When you paint something, you fall in love with it. Or maybe, when you fall in love with something, you paint it.
The poppy might only flower for two weeks, and lucky you if it lasts a month! Google will tell you, it’s a “painfully short blooming period.” But that doesn’t save you from stopping dead in your tracks when you pass. It doesn’t save you from the paralysis of its arresting beauty. Oh, no. The power of the poppy is its ability to give you pause. Pausing Poppies, I like to call them.
So when the first drowsy bloom opened this year, ruby red and cupping sunlight, I sat before it in reverent wonder, waking to its wisdom.
“What do you know, Poppy?” I asked, extending my palms to catch some sunlight myself.
“Good things take time to grow.” It said.
“Lifetimes.” I responded.
“Be patient, friend. Everything worthwhile is already underway.”
I hope you enjoy this new song that I wrote to accompany my poppy painting. It's a solo performance recorded in my basement by mr. Ryan Dilts, and mixed by Eric Wiggs. Certainly we'll record a more produced version, but I like the simplicity of the demo for now.