Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Yukon - Large in your own life

Total expansiveness -- Tombstone Range, Yukon Territory

A dear friend wrote me the following words before I left for my artist residencies in northern Canada this summer, and I have carried them like a souvenir seashell in my pocket for months:
"So much movement -so much change- so much magic
You are living in the middle of the best magic and we all can tell 
because the world is giving you everything you need 
not many people can travel this path with you 
and not many ever travel this way at all.
Be large in your own life - the universe says so."

Small home, big world -- mixed media on paper by Rebecca Barfoot

It is mid-November and I am back in southwest Colorado, savoring old friendships while also longing for the north-land and the slow earth pace of life there. This morning I woke thinking yet again, be large in your own life.  Me, you, are we doing this? 

I know that now is the time and it's all about leaping and bounding instead of walking with measured constraint across the open vistas of our lives.    

Large as life / bull caribou, Big Alex Ridge, Olgilvie Mountains - Yukon

Least Weasel - smallest carnivore in North America! - from a backpacking trip to Fold Lake, Blackstone Uplands - Yukon

I remind myself that a leap like this is what delivered me to the northern latitudes this summer, and what allowed richly cross-pollinated opportunities in art, ecology, and education to present themselves so that my original 5 week engagement flowed quickly into 5 months!!!  Back in the States, a similar trajectory continues and I've just been riding the waves, letting life spill over while landing softly and solidly and bound by gratitude. 

Rooted and Rising -- mixed media with Yukon blueberry dye on paper -- by Rebecca Barfoot

One of the things I noticed immediately in the Yukon was the striking juxtaposition of an impossibly vast macro-landscape with the equally luminous world of the pixie-sized microcosm - and how each biome informs the other.  The tangle of sphagnum moss, bog cranberry and reindeer lichen at my feet describes the endless arc of unbroken wilderness spinning to the horizon even as they seem to exist separately and as opposites.  I know this relationship is important to explore in the work to come, and that the intimate as a gateway to the infinite mirrors the idea of small lives lived large.

Dall sheep - ewes and young - dwarfed in the immensity  -- Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon

Bearberry foliage, high tundra -- Blackstone Uplands, Yukon

Autumn highlights and color swoon -- Discovery Ridge -- Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon

A fairy forest of wintergreen called 'Single Delight' - late summer near Dawson City, Yukon

Be large in your own life and the work you choose to do, I think, because the world needs this from all of us right now. 

Nurse log comes to life with sphagnum moss, pixie cup lichen, bearberry and more - Klondike River Valley, Yukon

Hang on, Yukon -- mixed media on canvas by Rebecca Barfoot

Saxifrage -- brilliant, adaptable survivors of the north  -- Angelcomb Peak, Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon

Writes Sally Kempton, Buddhist scholar and Dharma teacher, in her recent book Awakening Shakti:  "Our awareness is not only connected to the power of awareness in other creatures, but it is also a miniature version of the great awareness that is the source of all that is. The subtle worlds that lie between the transcendent vastness and the physical universe are also inside our own subtle bodies, ready to be experienced by anyone who has the stamina and grace to enter into the inner world of the heart."

And the heart of the world, I would add. The microcosm coursing through our ancient aliveness, firing the pulse of our being.  We share this and yet we have forgotten it.  It is time to remember. 

Swallowtail at rest on caribou moss --  Olgilvie Mountains, Yukon

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