Have you ever taken a tin can out of the trash and cut off the bottom and then driven a car through it? I have. It was a small car, a VW Beetle or a little Fiat, I don’t remember; and maybe I didn’t actually get the car to go through the can, but at the time everything around me felt so small and constricted that I’m sure I could have, had it occurred to me.
It was very late at night and the darkness in the car’s interior was palpable. I remember crying and the whole time rubbing my cheeks with one hand and then the other. I thought that if I could just hold the car steady and keep it going straight down the road, just do that, nothing more, think nothing more, then somehow the morning would rescue me.
The beams of my headlights leading me down the highway appeared to narrow, becoming shafts of light so thin and specific that after a moment all I could see was this orange striped water barrier and I drove right through it. The morning never came and it took me a long time to understand that it never would. To be the only one left, accompanied by none, is a weight deep within the psyche that never goes away, even as the stars just above the horizon you think are parachute flares never goes away. We had come a long way home, or so we thought.
There is a tradition among native Americans, don’t ask me which ones, maybe all of them, that the community honors its warriors with respect and gratitude and welcomes them home. They know that all who come home, whether lame and broken or seeming swift and fair, all of them, all of them have sacrificed a part of their soul. No one ever makes it all the way home.
Three little fishermen got blown all the way from China on the fangs of taiphoon Buck-toothed Mary and were picked up off the coast of South Vietnam. They needed an interpreter, but no matter what I said there wasn’t much sympathy or humanity shown them by the gang of komodo dragons dressed in green fatigues. After a while I just forgot about them.
I sliced my fingers on a tin can lid and felt the pain of severed tendons, held them tight and bent to my knees, then stood up and fainted away. Shinjiru paddled in the tropical blue-green surf and gentle breakers and beckoned her to come. “Breathe underwater like this,” he said, “it’s easy.”
Water may well be the best physical medium through which spirit can express itself. Dr. Masaru Emoto has shown a relationship between human intentions or thoughts and water. In part it can make for some very beautiful photography.