The Waterfall

Many years ago, my sister-in-law was sort of at loose ends. She had made it: she had an impressive job doing something that she loved, that made the world a better place. It was also a financially rewarding job and, though young, she owned a beautiful, historic home on a big lot, in a quiet neighborhood, with a garden. She was surrounded by friends and community. But she hadn’t met her future husband yet and felt like something was missing in her life.

And so she shopped for the thing that was missing. An avid pianist, she invested in a baby grand, and played long into the night, alone in her home. She bought beautiful furniture, William Moser. And then she decided to invest in a piece of artwork to go over the mantle.

So she made a trip to the big city and came to stay with us for the weekend. We wandered down to Soho, pausing at Bruno’s – ah, Bruno’s we miss you well – for a rich breakfast on a tiny little marble-topped table that wobbled on it’s feet. (Bruno’s tables always wobbled on their feet.) And then strolled south and gazed through the windows of the galleries.

Even now, these galleries represent a wide spectrum of art, from the expensive and banal, to the expensive and sublime. We immersed ourselves in browsing, moving from artist to artist, from genre to genre.

And then we stopped in front of a gallery – now long gone – arrested by the picture in the window. It was large, far taller than we, loomed over us. It was simple, a single white object on a black background. And it seemed to glow from within. We stood for several moments, entranced, and were then drawn inside, where we wandered, unapproached, for several minutes, moving from similar image to image with the same hushed awe that we felt wandering through a cathedral.

Finally we were approached and introduced to the artist’s story. We learned that he didn’t paint the art, he crushed minerals, semi-precious stones, to a fine powder, which is what gave the images such a luminous quality, as if the images of the white waterfalls on the black background glowed from within. The prices were out of the range of my then-boyfriend and I, but my sister-in-law selected one, had it framed and it rests today above her mantle.

That gallery is long-gone but every now and then, I’ll be walking down a New York street and the corner of my eye will be caught by one of Hiroshi Senju’s waterfalls.

I was reminded of this, this morning, as I re-engaged with my meditative practice. As I sat, thoughts bubbled up in my mind, shiny objects catching my attention and trying to seduce me into creating stories and then listening to my own stories. A full-blown waterfall of thoughts, cascading through my mind, until I just stood back and admired the view, unattached to the individual droplets of water.

It’s time to settle down again, to regain balance, to let go and become that point of stillness as the chaos rushes by, if even for a moment, or a minute, or for however long I can.

All that I have and everyone I love is of the nature of change, I cannot escape their loss. I come here empty-handed. My actions are my only true possessions. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the path on which I walk.

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