By John Thomas Dodds
If there is one thing ex-pats have in common its having travelled far and wide, and one of the things we might have noticed is the human penchant for seeking the high ground. It is the domain of the wealthy and the spiritual, the adventurous and the driven, it is home for castles and monasteries and for the life of us we dig our way out of holes, climb ladders of success, reach for diamonds in the sky.
Like the Jefferson’s, “Moving on up” from the basement apartment to the penthouse is what most, not all, seem to strive for. If you’re on top of the world, you’re haute-monde, carriage trade, opulent, majestic, gated, upper crust sitting pretty with an exquisite view of the digs, shanties, hovels of the lower class. It’s all in the words of course, but the reality is some words are dressed in linen, some in burlap, some are birds perched on the topmost tip of a tree, others potted plants on a window sill thirsting for a patch of sky. Like Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge, we all want the same things out of life—to rise above the darkness and share the light.
Light, like a rodent scavenging the recesses of darkened rooms, seldom reaches the impoverished eye, where portals for air called windows, open to shadows. As far as one can see in the tenements of light, a mirror image of distance beyond reach. No wonder we seek the highest landing, for to see as far as one can see, through a wall of glass, from where only clouds and inner sanctums of the mind effects the quality of light, is where butterflies stay warm and we’re all meant to be.
My neighbor, just a measure below me, has an unobstructed view of Lake Chapala and a sierra of mountain on the southern shore. My view, although not as expansive—cluttered with Bougainvillea and palm trees—is equally rewarding to the senses. There the commonality becomes a metaphor for the beauty of the moment. He sits under a weather beaten plastic tarp, I sit on a shaded deck, both of us knowing height, for the most part, is a barrier between owning the heavens and hugging the earth.
There are mountains in the sky that no one can climb, rooted to this planet as we are. There are such things unheard of, out of grasp, hidden still to the yet unborn, privy only to another lifetime, yet, like a silhouetted mistress, taunting, inviting one into the realm of unimaginable secrets, the sense of being demands attention to the possibilities, each breath taking in all the dreams and wishes, all the fears and failures of those who have tried to shed the skin of mortality and reach a higher plane.
Late in life I am able to see farther than I have ever been able to, not for a distance diminished by the light in my eyes, but by the knowing beyond the wall of the visible, the endless beauty of creation is all in my imagination, it is all in the wonder of what, in the moment of perception, for the life of me, I experience.
There are mountains of cloud billowing in the sky that beckon us to climb out of the dark matter of our minds, scale the imagination, leaving doubt behind, to finally achieve, in the heights of mystical possibility, a glimpse of understanding.