California, so far, is like a dream. Specifically San Francisco, Berkeley, Point Reyes, Marin County, the mysterious pacific coast shrouded in fog: in short, much of the Bay Area.
Point Reyes is a beacon of Earth’s agelessness and perfection. Of what is possible. Ancient trees tower above one like monuments, like ancient colossi. Douglas Firs with their ridges of bark as thick as one’s fist, like ropes to be climbed up. The hiking trail twisting its way up and down and through, soft and damp, spongy, loamy, guided on both sides by the lushest, greenest vegetation I’ve ever seen, all fragrancing the air with verdant, earthy aromas of life and amazement, of how this world once was all over ….
I wish to put what I’ve seen into words, but how can I!? The magnitude of the task binds the gears of my mind and wrenches the cogs off track. How does one translate the colossal magnificence of such an ancient, prehistoric world (or anything, for that matter) into idea, into these scrawny characters that even when strung together into something greater than their individual selves are little more than a whisper in a storm, that are not truly experience, but merely place holders for experience. How can one translate a piece of bark into a string of characters and somehow communicate all that is that piece of bark and what it means to be present to it?
Words are like fake fruits and pastries in a display case, but even more pathetic, because at least those things, as false and unreal as they are, maintain a resemblance to that which they imitate, but words, words are nothing. Just amalgamations of parts of an alphabet. Just attempts to translate a feeling, an emotion into a communicable symbol that still can’t ever communicate properly that which they must. They’re idea, and idea is only something in the world of idea. In the world of experience, which is Life, they’re just “POOF!” They’re even less substantial than the fog that rests just off the Marin coast, the fog that appears so thick, so heavy and luxurious that one would delight in wrapping oneself in it like a blanket, or weaving it into a sweater, or filling a pillow. Yet the world of idea is a fun world nonetheless, because it is an imaginary world. It is unreal and completely made up. And that, of course, is its virtue. And the challenge of describing something! All one has to do is read a few quotes from Giacometti on painting and sculpture to get the gist of what that’s like.
The trees were tall. Colossal like the dreams of history’s greatest thinkers, but greater and older still. Untouchable. Incomparable. Point Reyes, you stir something in me that I can only call awe, but what is that, and what does it mean? I’d like to smash it with a hammer…. The temperature cooled as I moved closer to the shore, like the Pacific itself was washing over me, and when I did finally gain view of that vast, empty nothingness that had no horizon but vanished into the fog like life into death, I could only stop running, and stare, thunderstruck. “THIS is what is meant by eternity, ” I thought. “This is immortality.”
It’s like digging a hole. Digging after something buried there that can’t ever be excavated. But this isn’t a physical hole, it is a hole in my mind being dug. It is a metaphysical hole—the idea of digging the idea of a hole.