SW Spaciousness

by Mark

So I’m terribly fond of detective books that take place in the SW United States, largely set in the years 1946-1995. States such as Arizona, California, Nevada, centered largely around Los Angeles.

And one of the core things that attracts me is a sense of spaciousness, literal low number of people per square mile, or square inch depending on your frame of reference.

That’s what drove me batty moving from the west coast to Boston, suddenly at the relative scale of stuff was way different. In LA you can drive ENE and within 30 miles the density is 1/5, and within fifty it’s 1/15th and it gets sparser from there. That and huge mountains across dozens of miles of open space…

So there’s a sense of inner spaciousness that is deeply important to me. I seek it out all the time in all my endearvors, and certainly so when I teach.

I believe there is an inner spaciousness available to each of us no matter where we come from or where we find ourselves to be.

This inner space is room for each of us to experience infinity and sacredness, time simply to reflect on our place in all this [sweeps arms expansively…].

I keep coming back to we are blessed, to being afforded these opportunities to tap into the true divine, to know ourselves as good, as Love.

So detective books, the ones I eat up, all took place before insta-phones changed the nature of human interaction. I have no sense yet about better or worse, but there’s a photo from Andreas Feininger [look up] of US Route 66, in New Mexico or Arizona, long about 1954 give or take, and there’s 4 people visible in the picture and maybe two or three more veiled by motel walls, and the sky is colossal, like so much huger than all the people and all our stuff.

And each of these people were cut off in good ways from the cell networks we’re all entwined with nowadays. Then, it was possible to be alone.

One of the men in the photograph, I imagine he’s hitchhiking to Los Angeles to work with aircraft or movie cameras, dreams as vast as the cumulonimbus cover, and no one, literally no one on the entire planet save he himself knows where he is, or could track him down or find him. That. That to me is huge, and is in fact this divide I feel between me and young people born after the ubiquity.

I’m not apt to bemoan the ubiquity—that time in humanity (right now) where all is connected and surveilled and beamed to and from satespheres of satellites. I can see the difference, appreciate analog v. digital, but younger people simply can’t b/c they grew up always connected. I don’t fret this, b/c I accept, and I know that generations older then me fretted that I grew up in smoggy and traffic rather than fishing for fingerlings by the nearby creek, of which there were zero where I grew up in the most famous valley of Los Angeles.

These detective books evoke for me a flash of that spaciousness, of me hitchhiking back and forth to avoid pursuers, and being able to find myself nowhere traceable, under the huge sky in the southwest of the US of A.

Covet that spaciousness as you do any wealth, for knowing how to be small in your own mind is huge, to be able to see that we are—bountifully—part of something so vast, and so amazing, that Awe is the natural response. Make space, breath by breath, for that awe to pop up, as it will, b/c we live in paradise already.