s. flew up the river. he was sailing like a traveling hawk, down low.
it was a dream. he was dreaming this lucid dream of flying low down along
the river. he could see every rock, blade of grass and bush. and the rocks in the
middle were gold. along the side of the river he came to small leafless white
tree. then he came to an enormous black tree, also without leaves.
two days before the dream a horrible toothache came over him. it was so bad
that he had to suck cold air across the dying tooth. if he stopped sucking the
pain came on; and the pain was terrible and frightening. so he kept sucking
the air over his tooth. he couldn’t eat and he couldn’t get help. after thirty six
sleepless hours his face was all crunched up. it would be six more hours until
he could see a dentist.
s. remembered what he had read in buddhist writings, that pain was just
another sensation. exhausted, he decided to let go of his fear and just enter
into the pain. it was like a dagger digging into his jaw. in a few seconds he
like pages turning in book, only fast, he saw everything. he saw the structure
of the cosmos and all the mathematics of systems; and he saw mankind. he saw babylon, assyria, egyptian
hieroglyphs and knew all the names of all the great teachers; what they
tried to say about their gods and the great ideas. he was zarathustra,
siddhartha, milarepa and li po. he was totally conscious of his being but no sensation of his body.
when it ended abruptly he was climbing out of the trunk of a gnarly old oak in a dark
he felt like flying and so he did… and he flew along the river like a hawk. he
came to a bluff in the bright light of day and saw the ocean… he started
flying up towards the sun… then he was seeing himself disappear towards the
sun and far away in the distance he saw himself turn into a flame as he entered
the golden ball of the sun.
all this happened about a month after he had moved his cot and his backpack
into the barren room over the “atlantic and pacific tea company”. it was early
morning now and the toothache was completly gone. he put a four by five
foot gessoed panel up on the easel and tried to paint the dream. he got part of
it and by the time the sun set it was finished. he threw himself on the canvas
army cot and slept for fourteen hours.
s. woke up and didn’t know where he was and he was hungry enough to eat a
horse. he washed his face and hands and he brushed his teeth and shaved
and combed his hair.
just accross the street on the point was a little cafe’, “the corner cupboard”. he was just in
time to order breakfast before the cook switched the grill from eggs and
bacon and pancakes to steaks and burgers. s’s stomach was not as big as his
eyes were that morning. he had involuntarily fasted for 66 hours and his stomach had shrunk.
he hurried back upstairs to see the painting. “my god”, he said to himself, it
is finished. there’s going to be no erasures, no daubing over daubs, not even
a glaze and a turpentine rub. he grabbed a can of retouch varnish and
sprayed it. he threw some cheese and ryebread into his knapsack, a book,
sketchpad and field kit and hiked high above the town. the town mt. was
called mt. tom and it was a good climb, but it was lush with little rivulets of fresh water
all the way to the top.
sketching the whole valley and then sitting on the highest rock to eat and
drink, s’s heart was bursting with the purest happiness imaginable by anyone.