I’ve noticed something on this drive across the southwest. I’ve driven from Chicago down through Illinois, through parts of Missouri and Tennessee, across Arkansas, down through and across Texas, up into and across New Mexico, across Arizona and now into the desert of Southern California. What I’ve noticed very clearly is that I love space. While the midwest is fine, to me the wonderful driving on this trip didn’t begin until I hit west Texas which has a desert scrub wasteland feel to it. Through all of this, I’ve noticed that the spaciousness resonates with my soul. That resonance with spaciousness is one of the reasons that I love living right on the ocean, because on and on beyond me is open vista, with a nearly 180 degree view of ocean and headlands. I love spending time in the woods too, but the most memorable moments on backpacking trips usually come when I reach the top of a peak somewhere and the views stretch on through mountain after mountain, and I find myself spinning in circles with arms outstretched.
I believe I am drawn to these vistas because my soul has spaciousness as one of its qualities. I actually believe that we all have the quality of spaciousness within us, the capacity to be fully open, receptive and allowing. When our lives get busy and bogged down with worries and details, we lose contact with that inner spaciousness, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, simply that we lose access to it. This drive has helped open access to that inner spaciousness for me. I love these open vistas, where the land stretches on for miles and miles in all directions. I feel an inner freedom there, expanding my inhale and slowing my exhale.
Spaciousness is rather difficult to capture photographically, because the camera has its power in limiting what we see, helping us to direct our attention on beautiful often overlooked details, surprising juxtapositions, shapes, colors, scenes, and individual personalities. That focusing quality of the camera runs into a wall, in my opinion, when it comes to trying to capture spaciousness. Even shooting as I sometimes do with an 11mm fisheye lens, I find it often does not do justice to vastness.
My encouragement to those of you who haven’t done so yet is to take a nice slow drive across the west. North, Central or South, it doesn’t really matter. Just get past Minnesota, Missouri and Texas and idle about in wonder. It’s like driving across several different planets, with Red Martian stone arches, white Venutian wind whipped mountains, crumbing Jupiter slate monoliths, steep Saturnal carved canyons, and vast Mercurian overheated deserts where life somehow still manages to take hold. Enjoy the spaciousness of this land and let it tickle and unsheathe that inner spaciousness within your own inner topography. I’ve done this drive 5 or 6 times in my life now and it never ceases to invoke my awe.