Treasure Hunting

Beachcombers

After you leave the house each morning,
I walk the wake of your passing,
Reaping children’s leavings
Like lost intertidal jetsam
Stranded by a fleeing sea.

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2015: A Selected Film Review

RedwoodsA few years ago, my wife and I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway. When we finally reached the Redwoods, it felt as though we left all we knew behind and entered on sacred ground. Standing in the grandeur of those towering ancients brought tears to our eyes. In silent wonder, we stood and wept.

There are moments in beholding the world around us that overawe and sometimes overwhelm and diminish us. When confronting the American landscape, Czeslaw Milosz wrote, “This continent possesses something like a spirit which malevolently undoes any attempts to subdue it,” and, “my humanistic zeal has been weakened by the mountains and the ocean, by those many moments when I have gazed upon boundless immensities with a feeling akin to nausea, the wind ravaging my little homestead and intentions.”[1]

As I reflect upon the films of 2015, I think of the boundless immensities all around us. Glory and terror echo through the natural world and the worlds of human creation. Our films reflect the thoughts and nightmares that occupy our minds. Each of these movies captures a sense of being overwhelmed, some in sacred awe and others in anxious trembling.

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On Becoming Real

ragamuffinWe mark the movement of time with rituals, naming the repetitions as they come: the first day of the work week is Monday, the first month of the year is January, the first meal of the morning is breakfast, and the first of three hundred and sixty five days is a New Year. Some names are more significant than others, so the rituals are more detailed. We count down the hours, we raise a glass at midnight, we make promises for the year to come, but more often than not, the changing over to a new set of numbers doesn’t feel any different. My daughter turned thirteen this week and I asked her, “So how does it feel to be a teenager?” Her answer was this: “Just like it felt to not be one.” And yet, I can look back at that year in my own life and say, “I remember what it felt like to be thirteen,” or better yet, “I know what life was like in 1989.” Why? Because we also mark time by important events that happen in our lives, and if an event is significant enough, it can tint the shade of an entire year.

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Star Wars, Da Vinci, and Playing in the Dirt

Darth VaderThis Christmas, I went to see the new Star Wars film, twice—and I’ll probably go again. Call me a geek over it; I might deserve the title. After all, I have spent countless unfruitful hours on Wookieepedia and other related sites, sifting for clues to where the Jedi vs. Sith mythology all began, and I don’t often see a movie in the theater more than once. The second time around, I found myself free to look at things I hadn’t before, and I discovered something about why I cared so much more for The Force Awakens than the prequel trilogy. It’s the dirt.

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