And I say to you: When someone leaves, someone remains. The point through which a man passed is no longer empty. The only place that is empty, with human solitude, is that through which no man has passed. —César Vallejo

Blue Cowl, John Randall Nelson, 2007, mixed media on panel, 30 x 25 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Gebert Contemporar, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Blue Cowl, John Randall Nelson, 2007, mixed media on panel, 30 x 25 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Gebert Contemporar, Santa Fe, New Mexico

We sometimes passed a billboard in L.A. that digitally tallied how many had died that year—thus far—from smoking. (It is there still.) If I was driving, he’d literally cover his eyes when we approached, wincing in disapproval. Each time he made that gesture, I was surprised and moved: yes, it was true, he’d endlessly instructed how one should use death as an advisor—“I have said it until I am blue in the face”—but the roadside version wasn’t at all what he meant. No learning, no urgent poetics came from numbers that might well have been a telethon’s tote, and nothing evoked the teachings of his lineage: to intendawareness with each breath, for such is the birthright of the impeccable being who is going to die. None: merely another ad, a crude binding upon the clear green chakra of the heart, and it filled him with sorrow . . .

Today the winds are high and piercing. They shake the house and shiver the skin: ineffable, gusty, gutsy, merciless. They come in wild, majestic packs—from left field—at once sentimental and indifferent. They do not care.

They blow in from the ocean of awareness.

From “the border” . . .

Liberate this article!

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