Tag Archives: Images

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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Deja Vu

Here is another Deja Vu dream. About a month ago I had a dream that I was standing in this front yard under a very large tree. This tree has many long thick branches and the root system was on the surface. The root system is very extensive and intercrossing across the floor. I see myself walking over the large roots to reach a hammock that is spanning several large branches.

At the time this dream had no meaning or significance, since I did not know where it was. I have never seen this place before or since – until just the other day! My sister and her husband bought a new house. I was helping them move in – this was my first time seen the house. After we were done we sat down in the yard to eat lunch and – poof there was the hammock hanging from the very same tree I had seen in my dream weeks before.

Very strange!

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Valmi’s Visit

Many years ago I experienced a visitation that is still with me to this day. I was sleeping in my bed, when I am awaken by a soft female voice calling my name. I sit up in bed and catch a glimpse of something at the right hand corner of my room. There in the corner, next to the dresser is Valmi – just standing there. She was not a solid mass but a glowing, transparent image. Almost like an angel.

She says “I’m here just to say goodbye to you.” I ask her “where are you going” but she just ignores my question, smiles and tells me “take good care of your wife…”

The aura and glow around her starts flickering and then she fades away.

See Valmi for me was not only my brother-in-law’s sister, but she is Love, Peace & Joy. She was a very strong, tall woman with a very sweet and soothing voice. She worked as a butcher with tough hands, but with a very soft & loving touch.

She lives in Mt. Vernon, NY in a house that is partially owned by her, my brother-in-law & another one of their sisters. My brother-in-law would always invite our family to the parties there and that house was always – for me – full of fun, joy & freedom when I was a kid.

Something was telling me to go & visit her, since “there is no time left” is what I kept hearing. So I took a Saturday off to go see her. I visited her in that same house (maybe 100 miles away from Philly – where I was living at that time) just the week before my visitation. This time the joy was missing. She was very ill – dying of cancer – and a sadness in her eyes.

I saw her without her usual strength, without her usual happy smile and without her hair. She was almost embarrassed of the loss of hair – she did not want me to see her like that. But I had a very strong need to see her to I asked her husband to let my wife & I in. What I saw was a body physically ready to go, but a soul that still wanted to spread her joy to her family. She still had that soft touch.

So when she showed up in my bedroom that night, I could not sleep anymore. Her presence really made me wonder why had I experienced her & why was I seeing her as an aura. Two days later, I get a call from my sister in Florida. She gives me the news that Valmi passed away – just so happens – the same night & about the same time that I experienced my visitation.

It all makes sense to me now. She was talking to me and at the time I did not know why she was telling me this. But she said the following:

“Please ask my brother to care for my kids. He is the one that will do what’s right for them. And please keep an eye on my brothers and sisters so they will always know that I love them. Give them my love & joy.”

I always think of Valmi. She was a great person. Full of life – full of love and joy for everyone. She was a wonderful soul & by sharing my story, I want to give you the gift of Joy & Love she asked me to share with you.

I miss you Valmi! Thank you for allowing me to see that there is more to life then what we think we know. And that the Love & Joy you were – is still present for all.

Thank you for that gift.

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