A Search for Visions
…with help from A.C.
Because of a post I read recently and reprinted below with permission, I have been thinking about my Vision or more specifically, my search for a Vision.
Sure we learned about Visions. I always thought maybe why so many who wandered aimlessly, in the desert, in isolation, talking only to bushes and clouds, was so hard to understand the Visions they returned with and shared with all who would listen.
A shared Vision so powerful, it molded the West for generations to come.
I was in business for many years. I wrote about “The Vision Statement of our Enterprise.” In my youth, I “experimented” with certain substances and at points, most likely, had visions. They never seemed to stick around in my psyche, but they were Visions.
But when it came to guidance, my journeys path, when it came to establishing personal life direction, when it came to better understanding my place in the Universe, these Visions all fell flat.
After that, I don’t know if I ever really focused on finding a Vision. I was pre-occupied with life, with rearing a family, with teaching and looking back now, it was like wearing blinders.
I made it this far…but I failed to grasp a vision.
A dozen years ago, I followed a small hand-written sign off the highway that cut through Arizona. It just said “Sky City.”
I followed a bumpy dirt road for a few miles south of the road and slowly a stone butte, a bluff, a monolith topped with an ancient pueblo, shot up out of the barren Arizona desert landscape. I pulled over and stared in awe. The Bluff, the pueblo that had survived for over 900 years at the top, protected from invasion, was just magic. The oldest continuously populated city in North America and it was now more than words in a book. It was real. It was a Vision that had sprung to life just as easy as driving down a bumpy dirt road.
As I continued, looping back to the highway, I saw a group of women, native America Acoma women working, heads down on a turn-out on the side of the road. Alongside they had some large pottery they had fired, carved and painted. I purchased two and later in my hotel room, I looked at the images that decorated the pottery. In the intricate design, I saw the images of the spirit or Vision animals of the bear and the hummingbird. Both animals were important to the Acoma. The hummingbird decorated their seed pots coupled usually with stylized rain. The Acoma had been told by their Gods that they must leave some game for other beasts like the bear to be able to survive. The Acoma have uncovered their Vision centuries before. Their pottery pulled the past into the present. They shared their Vision.
When I returned home, I realized that my own desert casita was surrounded by hummingbirds feeding on the bougainvilleas and other desert flora dotting my tiny yard. I adopted the hummingbird as the spirit animal of my home. I even had a plaque made which featured the hummingbird, the mountains that surround our home and the coyote that we can hear in early morning.
But in my 60 odd years, the hummingbird and the bear were the closest I have come to my spirit animals. I never really felt the hummingbird or the bear in a Vision way. On the other hand, in my dream Visions, I only remember two images that have repeated throughout the years. In my dream Vision, I am frequently a rescuing hero and without fail, I lose one shoe in the process of a rescue, finishing the dream by limping off into the fog with some stranger saying to another “I don’t know who he is…but he lost his shoe…”.
A missing shoe and a hero, Not very noble, certainly not enough to capture imagination and reveal in my many stories.
This morning, I was taken with a post from a young woman, A few days ago, she shared her joy in taking a train up the California coast. She had found an Artist. She had found a Tattoo Artist she trusted to give her new ink that would reflect her Vision.
Today she provided the image the Artist had created based upon her Vision. Here are her words she posted this morning and the image of her Vision.
“Sorry for the long winded explanation, but I think if I post the image, it deserves the background story. I’ve been trying for years to find an artist to turn my ideas and emotions into a tangible, visual, piece of art.
After almost a decade, I found the one. I gave him the elements I wanted incorporated into the piece and he gave me this.
The top starts with the triple Goddess moon, to always remind me of the connection to the Goddess within. I put dream a catcher in the middle moon to represent my lifelong struggle with night terrors, and the journey of redirection from fear into positive lucid dreaming.
The tree of life inside the dream catcher is a reminder that life, like the moon, is a dynamic cycle, always changing, giving new life, encouraging growth, and creating energy.
The bow with the arrows and the smoking pipe is the Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation (my Native American tribe). The unstrung bow symbolizes that we are a peaceful tribe, but ready to fight if needed. The 3 arrows represent the 3 chiefs that were in power when the tribe was split during the Trail of Tears, and the smoking peace pipe represents the dedication of the Choctaw tribe to remain peaceful with all others and to always share in wealth and friendship.
Finally the feathers: the one on the left is modeled after a red hawk: It represents freedom from fear of being alone. The one on the right is modeled from an owl feather, giving strength, keen sight, and wisdom.”
And with that, she had shared her Vision. Her Vision, through the eyes and hand of an Artist, painted in ink, painted in permanance on her body for all to share.. Her Vision that will share an intimacy with her body and spirit and the World surrounding her.
A beautiful tale of joy and sadness. A beautiful tale of peace and strength and wisdom. A beautiful tale that pulls the past to the present to share with the future.
And I have a missing shoe and a limping hero status and somehow feel cheated. Maybe some of us follow a different path to our Visions. Maybe our journeys share different spirit animals. Maybe since my ancestors scratched the muddy dirt of Wales for potatoes or huddled in rags alongside the cold stone of German Castles, my past blinds me, holds me back from grasping my Vision, wrestling with my spirit animal.
In trying to better understand Visions, I read many definitions. I found one close to my vision of a Vision. It says:
“A vision is something seen in a dream, trance, or religious ecstasy, especially a supernatural appearance that usually conveys a revelation. Visions generally have more clarity than dreams, but traditionally fewer psychological connotations. Visions are known to emerge from spiritual traditions and could provide a lens into human nature and reality.”
So I looked back on myself and the culture and the spiritual traditions of my culture. Without any effort on my part and as a facet of my youth, a Vision was presented by my mother (presented is a nice way of saying force-fed). Any early hope for securing my own personal Vision was encumbered by acceptance of their Vision, the Vision of those that lived around us and the most accepted Vision of my western world.
It was God. It was the word of God. It was Angels and Saints and Sins and Heavens and Hells and all directing me to ten simple rules.
But after awhile, those rules broke down when the exceptions started popping up.
Thou shalt not kill…unless you were conscripted into a war. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, unless ….well I don’t have to spell it out. Thou shalt not steal…but then there are taxes to fill out and Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house…but every TV and Magazine advertisement told me otherwise.
It wasn’t long before these Visions no longer fed my spirit. They no longer provided the Vision I probably so needed to live my life and I chucked the whole mess out somewhere along the way.
And then I wandered in the desert. And only a few days ago realized I was without Vision. Or maybe not. Maybe I have Vision, I have a Vision and others can see it in me, surrounding me like an aura or a ghost.
Everybody can see it but me
Maybe my Vision is painted in emotion, is wrapped in preoccupations of the past and setting on a pedestal of Gods long past. Maybe Vision is something I will search for until I am dust. Maybe it was the hummingbird. I am pre-occupied with eating and pretty things. Maybe it was the bear, but that Charmin commercial took the wind out of that sail.
Maybe my Vision is Vision. Having a Vision. Seeing the world differently. Maybe rather than designing a collection of representative images to reflect my images, I write through my eyes. I see a poetic world of images and emotion. I feel a poetic world of images and emotion.
Parrots line the gutter
Even in this land, the Assassins dance.
it is as you wish
I applaud the painted woman for her succinct clarity of Vision and her ability to allow those Visions to take shape in the form of words. I applaud her for sharing Visions that are deep and dark and powerful and warm.
I, on the other hand, appear to have been cheated when it comes to Visions.
I must have missed that day in class.