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dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Mt. Tamalpais, August 3, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed in the remains of morning fog

The Sleeping Maiden, or Mt. Tam, was true to her name this morning. She kept her head in the folds of fog, as if in protest to the August sun’s imperative to get going with the business of the day so early and so brightly.

Clearly — well, as clearly as things can be made out through wisps of fog, real or metaphorical — I am projecting. The Sleeping Maiden is neither sleeping nor is a maiden. It’s a mountain with ridgelines that, from certain angles, look like a sleeping maiden. That’s all.

And yet, there is something nearly indescribable that happens as I glance over the ridgeline in all kinds of weather trying to see, or rather, fathom what’s beyond.  Of course, I know what’s beyond the mountain. It’s the coastline, and beyond it, where the land loses its ground in the changing surf, the flat horizon of the Pacific Ocean, another mountain of sorts for the imagination.

It’s hard to keep the focus on the ridgeline before us, isn’t it? We are so given to keep looking beyond. And we tend to look beyond not so much with our eyes, as with our feelings, whatever those may be, from fear to hope to greed. We set out to map that beyond with our complicated compasses: some of us look for adventures, while others for more territory to claim for our sprawling desires. We go form surveyors of experiences to purveyors of schemes in a heartbeat.

I have no idea what it would be like to actually see the mountain in front of me. But it doesn’t matter, because this way, in the changing light of the days and desires, I get to see a new mountain every day. Some days it’s the delight in the eyes that stakes a claim. Other days, when the proverbial fog is a little too thick, it’s the wordsmith’s turn to polish the lens of words and bring the picture into better focus.

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