Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Big Skies, Boulders, and Blue Minds

Since February, our 25’ canvases of ocean waves have been rip curling up and down the East coast, across the center, and on to the West coast of the United States.  We drove over 5000 miles meeting countless people along the way, handing out business cards at gas stations, small shops, to people that attended our presentations, and to those at the river and ocean cleanups we took part in.  The energy has been contagious, something to the variety of what Wallace J. Nichols might call the Blue Mind. If you haven’t picked up his New York Times Best Seller yet, and need an uplifting book on the power of water for mental as well as physical wellbeing, get it.   It’s true what he says about the power of water.  One of my first questions I ask my audience when I give presentations is, “You are here to learn more about plastics in our oceans, why does it bother us so much?”  I know it did me.”  I think it is primal.  This concern for our water drove my conscience to want to travel in and around 4 ocean gyres, to create art out of the trash I collected in those regions, and to want to bring the images of trashed seas inland and across the USA to inspire the conversation.  Where is away when we throw our plastics away? Why do we, and more importantly, why should we care?  Believe me, there are a lot of caring people out there.  And it all comes back, I think, to the primal need and love of water whether we are drinking it, soaking in it, or playing in it. 

After picking up our exhibit, “What goes around comes around” from the University of Nevada Reno to take it to Southern California, my daughter Tricia and I had a choice to take either Rt. 5 down the California coast, through the Sierra Mountains on Rt. 395.  Tricia’s route won the toss.  We thought we would drive until 1 or 2 in the morning, but found out the hard way that the small town hotels do not leave the light on after midnight so we were forced to drive  hours into the night with no place to stop along the dark, lonely desert road.  Oh but the stars, I felt like I was back out on the open-ocean because there was no ambient city lights to distort the view.  We gave in to Morpheus at about 3am pulling into a closed gas station to hunker down.  With the van full of art we slept sitting upright in the cold, dark desert.  Even the best laid plans . . . .

We awoke to the sun creeping over the mountains as we watched the long jagged mountain shadows gently shrink to yellow beams of light over Mono Lake.  Little did we know we parked just feet from the entrance to Yosemite National Park.  We couldn’t resist a detour. 

Climbing over boulders while listening to the many different languages spoken from visitors sharing the experience, we became dwarfed by the grandeur like children in an amusement park.   But it was the water that drew us in to go beyond the climbing, and gandering.  Tricia spied a glistening pool of water below snow top cliffs and with her at the wheel, we found ourselves pulling off the road to take better pictures.  The pictures turned into wading, and the wading turned into a dare that ended in a dip in glacier cold water.   We were electrified with laughter and squeals from the cold.  Water, J. Nichols, that replenished our bodies and spirit that the energy we put into helping protect water through countless miles of lost sleep, money spent, and preparation is returned to us simply by being a submerged in clean, cold water.

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