And now, your daily dose of cheese.

“In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real. To devote yourself to the creation and enjoyment of beauty, then, can be a serious business – not always necessarily a means of escaping reality, but sometimes a means of holding on to the real when everything else is flaking away…”
~Elizabeth Gilbert, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’

Have you ever had one of those moments where something so beautiful just captivates you, illuminates your right brain and whisks you off so deep down into it that time just seems to stop? I had that last night as I was driving home. I caught a glimpse of the sunset-lit Lake Mendota as I was turning the corner to my apartment… something about the lake, the fading trees illuminated by the falling sun… I almost forgot to stop breathing. As soon as I parked my car I walked briskly over to the edge of the lake where I just sat in awe of life.

Walking over to the lake was like entering a new world. I caught a glimpse of it driving by, but it all became more real as I neared the water. It was a haven, carefully guarded and cleverly disguised by scraggly branches and yellowing grass covered in fallen leaves and men playing frisbee. Just passing by, without giving second thought, it just looked like your average park on a November evening. But given a second, deeper look, the lake transformed into something transcendental; something so mystical that only those actively searching for it might be lucky enough to find it.

It was all so picturesque, so pure, so perfect. The silhouette of a man fishing off a dock in the distance. Purples and pinks dancing off the blue sky and water, complementing the fading reds and oranges slowly turning into coppers and browns. Ducks quietly conversing, moving across the water in groups, calling to other ducks behind me that may or may not have actually been humans. Another photographer nearby who exchanged glances with me, who I swear could feel whatever magic was in the air as deep as I could; our silent nods to one another testimony to the intangible beauty of a chilled evening as fall gently slipped into winter.

It’s the feeling when you wake up slowly, gently, still unsure if you’re dreaming or not. And as your brain slowly emerges into consciousness, you lay there with your eyes closed, still in a state of euphoria but entirely aware of your surroundings, so entirely focused on not losing that moment, and yet entirely at peace.

But you know it won’t last forever, and some unwarranted stimulus jolts you back into reality. A group of teenagers I would suppose, chatting merrily and laughing, basking in the sunset and enjoying the calm that an early Friday evening brings before a long night of raucous. A dying camera battery as I desperately try to capture everything about this moment before it slips away. My camera records the image of this memory, but only I can recall the feeling it brought. I exchange glances with the photographer as I walk back up the path to reality and only then begin to feel how my fingers have turned numb; my nose and cheeks, blushing red from the chill in the air.

As I walked, I couldn’t help but continue to look over my shoulder. I was being tugged, pulled, begged to stay longer. I reached a mighty tree halfway up, devoid of leaves and slowly losing life; I gave into that pull and stopped to turn around. I felt as though I was leaving something behind, and I looked to the spot where I had sat and saw myself sitting there, peering out over the edge. An entirely out-of-body moment, I knew I could return to that spot at anytime to rediscover this feeling. I lingered just long enough to see the teenagers walking away, surely anxious to begin their night of fun; the photographer, still in that magical place, not yet done capturing the beauty that surrounded him. I longed to be beside him, capturing the beauty in my own image, but I turned, trudging on back into the real world.

I would imagine moments like these to be what religious people experience when they find their god, or their mecca, or their moment of enlightenment, or their holy place or spirit or being. To me, moments like these are what move me to paint pictures with words, to remember what it’s like to dream, to know how it feels to create and be creative. Moments like these are my muse, driving me to capture my experience and attempt to share it with others, even knowing that others will never truly know what it’s like until one day they’re perhaps lucky enough to experience it themselves.


My religion: Astronomy

I think astronomy is the closest thing to a religious epiphany I’ve had in my lifetime.

I don’t remember when it started; I wasn’t always interested in space and stars. But somewhere in middle school, something just clicked with me, and I started to realize and understand how freakin’ huge this universe is. And how freakin’ awesome it is. Also beautiful. But that’s a sidenote.

I’ve never really jumped on the whole “life on other planets” bandwagon. Everyone seems to be so obsessed with martians and aliens and life in other galaxies. I think it’d be pretty cool to know that we’re not alone in this universe, but it’s never captivated me as much as simply looking at everything in the sky for the beautiful things they are and understanding the concepts behind them. Very un-scientist-like of me, I know, but I’ve always been more of an observer than a question-asker. Let me put things into perspective for you, how I’ve learned it and the way I see it. Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. More