The Compass Needle

He was rolling a cigarette in a copse of redwood trees. It was morning and the light slanted through the tiny grove in golden columns, and he was illuminated, a glowing swami sitting cross-legged on the grass. He called himself Stu.

         “The last thing you have to get over is the ego, the thinking that because you have some spiritual knowledge that you’re better or smarter than other people.”, he said. “That’s the last hurdle. Ego.”

Then he told me he was from Venus, and that he was also once a general under Alexander the Great and that ten days after Pearl Harbor he incarnated as a Messerschmitt pilot who counted Hitler and Goering among his personal friends. No bullshit. He spoke with the deadpan assurance of a holy-man drifter. He had seen it all, heard it all, and was calmly reflective in this, his final lifetime in the body of a human.

         “I’m an awakened being,” he said. “I’m awakened to my divinity. I never brag about it because I don’t feel better than anybody. That’s part of being awake. You don’t feel better or smarter.”

He turned his palms up toward the heavens and closed his eyes. I thought he might have fallen asleep. A minute passed, or it might have been a second. Then he turned his palms over and lowered his hands slowly, as if that gesture might calm the seething world. And it did. I felt a quiet hush descend upon the redwoods. He opened his eyes and smiled.

o O o

The camera, in this instance, preserves the nuance. In a moment which appears random there are countless subtle details woven into its fabric which render it unique. A man sits alone on a patch of grass and you approach him because he is magnetic and you’re a compass needle floating in pure kerosene. When your eyes meet there’s recognition beyond time or explanation. Who cares if it’s cliche? The truth lives by its own rules and none of them are grammatical or stylistic. In these moments, when strangers are not strange, the body becomes smoke that wafts out the chimneys of the eyes. You can trust them to feel but no longer to see. Things are happening in the visual realm. But you’re lost in the merge. And the camera is bouyant in your hands. It’s lost most of its mass. Maybe when this happens there’s a disturbance in the Higgs-Field. Love is loss of Bosons. The camera is a bird. Gravity is not the force to be reckoned with, it’s merely illusion to dispel, like its binary, time. Somehow beyond sense perception reality lurks and lurches. No words can spell it out. No pictures. But it’s there on the negative, a ghostly blur you can’t ignore.


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