“Right now is good, and that’s all that matters.” – Guy Tal
This is the place- where a rebel finds peace, an outlaw becomes a poet. The mist rises, and the dust settles. Here, storms and sorrow, laughter and mountains mingle into one another. This is a place where you can watch the grass grow. And the valley is greener on your side. If you know of such a place, hold it dear. Bring your ears to the ground, listen to it whisper. You will change in a blink, and so will the place, in a few more. But for this moment in time, under this one sun, this place and you will command the language of the heavens.
The mist here is more mystical than mysterious, unsure of destination, but welcoming of the journey. Not all can be known but much can be understood. Not everything can survive but all can live. And while there is no promise of eternity, this place preserves the sweetness in death.
This place tells a story beyond words and images, historical data and climate records, provable facts and documented knowledge. Your feet can only cover so much ground. But the mind can wander where footsteps cannot reach, imagination can complete the experience when memory has reached its limits. Ancient texts and scriptures promise you peace and prosperity, the ancients of this place grant you struggle and imagination.
Here, snow and ice, melting grays and freezing yellows, write a ballad and an elegy in the same breath. Every pause is a preparation, every cause is a rebellion, all in the act of carrying out the most magically mundane things.
Here, the sun is wantonly indiscriminate, disseminating light like the wisdom of an ancient sage. The bejeweled maple is no more privileged than the lifeless pine. And where there is no privilege, therein lies my pilgrimage.
If you do take the time, this place can offer it in things that are magnificently insignificant. In long and hushed goodbyes, as if farewell and funeral overlapping into one another. An exuberant hibernation, a jumbled mess of marcescence and photosynthesis.
The soft lilies, the tender birches, the quiet lakes, are all intimations of intimacy, of immortality. Here a speck of green, there a touch of the blue, everywhere a glimmer of yellow- a child frolicking with a kaleidoscope, intimations of nothingness conspiring to be held by you. Yes, such a place needs to be held by you.
There you see tamaracks, standing amidst dead white pines, that have turned before their time, possibly due to change in water levels from beaver activity. They too will soon follow the way of the white pines, but not before one last hurrah! After all, “what is death but a long and vivid holiday”.
The more you know a place, the more unfamiliar it becomes by revealing its familiarity. And the more you explore, the more familiar it becomes by revealing its unfamiliarity. You see Fourteen Yellow Leaves. One by one, they too will say their goodbyes soon. But now you know each of them, more intimately than before, better than when the whole tree was bedecked with peak foliage. And the farewell will be that much sweeter.
And soon all that will be left, is but a vivid reminder of what it was, and what it could be. And what always is, only if you are not looking for it. In this country, do not set goals, do not settle for something so trivial: you will achieve exactly that goal while missing the many wonders along the way. Let your work be on the sand and stars, let your self dissipate with the wind.
You were lost. You are here. You will not last. But you will not be lost.
(In a fortuitous turn of events, albeit with risks and conscious decision-making, I have been able to live and work in the Adirondack mountains since the summer of 2021. All the above images and words have been a quiet outpour of living and experiencing this place with increasing immersion.
With heartfelt thanks to Guy Tal, whose work and life has been an inspiration to pursue artistic independence and authenticity. You can find more of his work here- https://guytal.com/ .
And deep gratitude to Suvro Sir, whose life and teachings have enlightened me in every step of the way. The quote- “What is death but a long and vivid holiday.” from the poem Swimmers by Louis Untermeyer is just one example of what I remember because this person uttered these words in the most captivating way in English lessons, thousands of miles away and more than a decade ago. You can find some of his writings here- https://suvrobemused.blogspot.com/ .)