Descansos – Roadside Rest Stops

Roadside markers plea for us to drive safelyEvery day, I drive I-95 in Palm Beach & Broward Counties. Each day I am drawn to the “Drive Safely” signs along the side of the road. The signs are more & more dotting the edge of the highway & more frequently are being decorated with flowers, wreaths, even photographs. These signs – these ‘descansos’ (Spanish for ‘place of rest’) along the highway calls to me and draws my attention. Along many highways, modern day ‘descansos’ stand as symbols for life, death, remembrance and celebration. These nondescript “Drive Safely” signs are shrines to not only express the loss of a loved one who died in a vehicular accident, but to draw our attention to the tragedy that occurred.

In the early pioneer days, the American settlers used descansos to mark the sites where pioneers, killed in Indian ambushes, lost their lives in their journey. The descansos were created to remind people to pray for the deceased. In today’s secular society, there is still a strong need to mark the place where the loss occurred.

Mostly because these are tragic deaths, yank out of this earth and not a natural death, where closure can occur. I consider them the resting spots along the journey of life where the individual stopped and rested. In the state of Florida, the only allowed marker is the “Drive Safely” sign. The signs are only placed if the friends/families request & pays to have this sign erected by the state – AND – they are temporary. They are only kept for 1 year.

These markers are erected as a private need to commemorate the actual place of loss. But obviously, these signs are a public manifestation of life – a piece of folklore – commemorative art – to serve as a reminder to us not to forget that this person lived a life of significance. The family needs to let us know of whose life was lost. Only we did not get a chance to know their significance.

For this reason, I am embarking on a project of documenting the “descansos.” This project is a way to express my daily journey and the things that impact my daily experience. For years I drove by these marker only knowing that my life was safe & secure & that the state was reminding us to just- “Drive Safely.” I never wondered why they were there or why they were randomly scattered along the roadway. Till one day! I was stuck in traffic – an accident ahead had us crawling like turtles following the dashed lines towards my home. I never noticed that just under the “Drive Safely” logo was somebody’s name with a starting & ending dates. I’m saddened to say – I never took the time to notice that – somebody died here.

For months all I did was wonder – until one day. I was drawn to a memorial that had (4) markers on the same spot. Each had the names of each individual on the markers, but the most impacting thing was that they were also decorated with lots of flowers. I had to stop to see. Each had pictures and notes attached – I dare not read – but whose unspoken words touched my soul. I can no longer just drive by these markers, I need to know.

Little did I know that life is what was calling me thru those signs. Every fiber of these shrines talks of life. Life lost, lives left behind, life’s journey. I need to celebrate life! To commemorate their life and to honor the life of their families left with this memory.

This project is not intended to rehash the accident or how it happened, but to express to society what we have lost, what we have allowed to happen and the need to acknowledge who is left behind. The mothers and fathers; the wives and girlfriend; the sons and daughters; the aunts and uncles; the grandparents and grandchildren. I want to celebrate the legacy that they leave behind. For this reason this project is a two fold effort to celebrate life.

First, to actually document the markers. The markers only exist for a period of one year & then are removed. Also here in South Florida, I-95 construction is constantly changing the landscape & the markers are disappearing from the roadside. Second, to have the State of Florida acknowledge & create a unified memorial. A place where each individual is remembered and expressed in context with society. I want to have a place where each and every life will not be forgotten about. A place where each individual’s significance can be known to the public – but also a place where the loss will be seen in the larger context.

In this country there are over 50,000 travel-related deaths annually. This is the equivalent to the loss of a fully loaded 747 crashing every other day. Can you imagine that number! OK, how about this – it is almost equals the total number of America soldiers killed in the Vietnam War (58,177 per Official US DoD, 1964-73). These numbers are not acceptable!

The context of a society where the daily grind has made us too preoccupied with the logistics of life, rather than actually living life to the fullest. We have become careless; our carelessness & lack of awareness, while driving, allows these tragedies to occur. Driving while intoxicated is the largest. Now driving while on the cell phone is also obvious, but would you believe that something as mundane as putting on makeup can account for 14%; How about grooming your hair – that’s 16%; OK would you believe eating while driving is a WHOPPING 66%. The California DMV put it in third place. So driving drunk is not the only real killer. This statistic can no longer continue unnoticed.

My project is intended to educate myself and others – but – most importantly as a celebration of life. A celebration for what they were & who they left behind.
LIFE – Love it for what it is and live it to the fullest!

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Om Nama Shivaya

Om Nama Shivaya, Om Nama Shivaya, Om Nama Shivaya

This gentle ancient chant, the primal seed sound that is attributed as the initiating sound of creation, has become my soothing chant.

The sound of the soundless. Absolute is chanted here.

The lovliest explanation of OM is found within the ancient Vedic and Sanskrit traditions. We can read about AUM in the marvelous Manduka Upanishad, which explains the four elements of AUM as an allegory of the four planes of consciousness.

“A” (pronounced “AH” as in “father”) resonates in the center of the mouth. It represents normal waking consciousness, in which subject and object exist as separate entities. This is the level of mechanics, science, logical reason, the lower three chakras. Matter exists on a gross level, is stable and slow to change.

Then the sound “U” (pronounced as in “who”) transfers the sense of vibration to the back of the mouth, and shifts the allegory to the level of dream consciousness. Here, object and subject become intertwined in awareness. Both are contained within us. Matter becomes subtle, more fluid, rapidly changing. This is the realm of dreams, divinities, imagination, the inner world.

“M” is the third element, humming with lips gently closed. This sound resonates forward in the mouth and buzzes throughout the head. (Try it.) This sound represents the realm of deep, dreamless sleep. There is neither observing subject nor observed object. All are one, and nothing. Only pure consciousness exists, unseen, pristine, latent, covered with darkness. This is the cosmic night, the interval between cycles of creation, the womb of the divine Mother.

An Extract of “A-U-M-Silence … the ancient sound of “OM”
by David Gordon

I will allow this chant to help deepen my existance. It will bring peace and calmness to my being.

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Peaceful Resignation

(Visitation #6)

Death is only a horizon, and a horizon is only the limit of our sight. Open our eyes to see more clearly…”

— William Penn

For the past 4-5 days I have been feeling very uneasy. A feeling of giving up & no longer trying – a sense of “peaceful resignation.” Don’t get me wrong, this is not me talking – at least not my usual self. I don’t give up or give in easily. I was thinking of death but not in the way you may be thinking of it! My wife’s uncle has been sick for a few days with stomach aches. He is 93 yrs old & I got the sense of peaceful resignation from him. All I could think off was avoiding the daily grind.

A sense of submission & withdrawal is overwhelming me. Work was the only thing that could occupy my mind with other things, but I did not want to be there. My stomach was very uneasy & even upset. I was constantly running to the bathroom today. It hurt not with typical stomach pains but from almost a sense of withdrawal. The feeling was all over me. Every thought & every sound. The music I listened to for the past 4 days has a melancholic tone. I was listening to the Kill Bill Vol. 1 soundtrack. Songs like The Lonely Shepherd (MP3) & Nancy Sinatra’ Bang Bang (MP3). These songs have a mellow sound and bring back the past (but not my past). I even had a fascination with

Arika Yamaoka’s “Room of Angel” (MP3) – This song is from the Silent Hill 4 game & it has some dark undertones & black lyrics – “here’s a lullaby to close your eyes – goodbye…” (No – the lyrics are not indicative of the person, just music that I was drawn to).

Even when I did not have the music on, this song occupied my mind.

The theme of resignation occupies my mind over & over again. Wednesday night we found out that my wife’s uncle is diagnosed with cancer in the stomach & a blocked intestine and needs to be operated. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach & a sense of emptiness. A spiritual emptiness – like he was no longer there. Tonight we visited him again & I got a peaceful sense from him. He was in little pain & not awake, but I did feel his spirit. He was surrounded with the love of his family.

Tonight while sleeping I dreamt of him. Not his physical self but more his way of being. It was a nice feeling of peace, playfulness, serenity & love. That is who he is. We were two white puffy clouds floating in the sky. We were swirling together, playing and rejoicing life. The play felt like it had been going on for a lifetime, when all of a sudden his cloud pulled away from me and swished away forever.


Suddenly, at that very moment I woke up. It was 4am I awoke out of breath gasping for air. I felt like I was taking my last breath & there was no more air for me to breathe. I felt something leaving my soul & it took my breath with it. It took me a few minutes to get my breath back. My wife was helping me as I tried to explain to her my dream. “Why do you think that was him?” she asked me. I did not get a chance to answer.

It is now 4:30am and as I was trying to catch my breath, the phone rings! As my wife answer the phone, she turns around to look at me. “No way!” I think to myself. With that said. She tells me that it’s her cousin. “The hospital called. He has just passed away.” was all she said & all she needed to say – as I already knew. My wife gets ready & leaves for the hospital & I stay behind with our son, who is sleeping.

I could not fall back to sleep but am exhausted. This visitation really left me drained! It is now 6:30 am & I am listening to Arika Yamaoka’s “Room of Angel” (MP3) song as I type this. I no longer feel pain; that sense of resignation nor a submissive feeling of loss. As my stomach frees itself of anxiety, I begin to feel peace, playfulness & love as it fills my very existence.

It is who he was! Rest in peace, Rojelio

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Just some funny thoughts

I came across some papers from 1992 & found some quotes from Steven Wright:

I installed a skylight in my apartment…The people who live above me are furious!

I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast at any time”. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, “Did you sleep good?” I said, “No, I made a few mistakes.”

In my house there’s this light switch that doesn’t do anything. Every so often I would flick it on and off just to check. Yesterday, I got a call from a woman in Germany. She said, “Cut it out.”
— Steven Wright

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In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the experts mind there are few.”

–Shunryu Suzuki
In life’s journey we need to see with the beginner’s eye. Allow for many possibilities to exist within you. Do not limit yourself to be what you were taught to be – just be.
“People only see what they are prepared to see.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
See not with your eyes, but with your mind’s eye – for it will not deceive you…
Notice that deception is only what we allow it to be. So why allow it to be.
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Vivid dreams that intrigue – or – just torment. Written thoughts that open doors & open minds, allowing me to see the truth hiding in the shadows. "A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read." — The Talmud