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Of lovely places, moments in time and Buddhas – Where’s your slice of heaven?

Is a slice of heaven really a place?

On the surface surely we all have an idea of where that place may be or at least what it should be like. But is it ever really a place? A geographic place that is? We have all dreamed, at one point or another, about that tropical Island paradise, a serene lakefront setting or even the vibrancy of a big city. But once there, would our own character not always attempt to force the character of the place itself into submission? Wouldn’t those of us who are naturally calm and relaxed find a cozy corner even in a bustling Metropolis, while other, more energetic creatures would find a way to add vivacity and dynamics to even the sleepiest of all quaint villages? Don’t we always try to create a space, no matter where we are, that mirrors our soul? And is it not also true that we not only mold that space but bring into it not just our dreams and visions and abilities but also our worries and habits and insecurities and thereby recreate our own personal realm, again and again, no matter where we go?

So if it’s a geographic slice of heaven I am to suggest as a personal answer to a personal question and it is, without doubt, a very personal question, then my answer will be an evasive one, because there are many places that make me incredibly happy  but I would not consider any of them heaven.

London

My favorite city is London. It can be stressful, congested and polluted but there is a vibe, a creativity and a wit in the people and the city itself that I never want to be without for long.

Cornish west coast

The rugged Cornish west coast has to be my favorite place to get away, to clear my head, to walk and think and to marvel at green grass meeting blue seas on a sunny day and at the sheer force of wind and sea when the weather does what it does best in Cornwall.

Croatian harbor

And my favorite way to travel is by sailboat. Leaning against the bow of a boat as we make our way into the sanctuary of a Croatian harbor after a long day on the water, seeing new Islands, coves and ports every day.

All these places, and many more, make me happy and proud to have experienced them and they are all an important part of who I am, but they still don’t answer the underlying question completely. My slice of heaven can never be a specific place because none of these are places I would prefer to all others. They are there to be the right place at the right time. Very important places with the ability to relax, invigorate and inspire. But they still are only places.

A real slice of heaven can, and often is, a part of these places. But it’s not a tangible place to me, it’s a fleeting moment. A moment where I can laugh, cry, love, celebrate or reminisce but most importantly a moment that I will remember. Take those moments and string them all together, in writing, through pictures or only in your mind, to me that is my personal heaven. And I’ll leave you with a quote that best describes these fleeting moments. This is from the book “One Year Off” by David Elliot Cohen, I wish they were my own words because they ring so true:

At the end of a one year journey around the world, Cohen and his family find themselves in Luang Prabang, where they take a boat ride up the Mekong River to the Buddha caves of Pak Ou. In exploring the cave they discover a path into a particularly dark section and are using matches, not having brought a flashlight, to illuminate the space.

“….when I lit a match it formed a small circle of light around us. In that circle hundreds of tall thin Buddhas stood sentry. Each time I lit another match this gentle army sprang to life, and each time it flickered out, we were plunged back into darkness.

It was a remarkable effect, very spiritual, and it made me consider how far we’d come in the last year. It was almost a year ago, exactly, that we were living a pretty ordinary life in the suburbs of San Francisco. Now we found ourselves 1500 miles up the Mekong River, igniting matches, one after another, in a pitch black cave surrounded by a thousand carved Buddhas. It all went by so quickly, this journey of ours-just one brief luminous scene after another.

We lit a match, and we were in the mountaintop forests of Costa Rica watching the clouds fly by. We lit another, and we were in the hills of Sardinia enjoying a sumptuous feast. A flash of light and Devi and I were standing hand in hand under a crescent moon on the banks of the Golden Horn. Flash again, and we were traveling across the sere plains of Africa. One flash of light after another and we were in the vivid Rajasthan desert, the desolate Nullarbor Plain, the crumbling ruins of Angkor Wat.

Then it struck me that life was like that, too. You light a match, and you’re just a child. Light another, and you’re married with children of your own. A few more brief, bright flares, and your babies have left home. A few more after that and your pack is used up. That might be why, at the end of our journey, we found ourselves standing in the Buddha caves of Pak Ou. To learn that we only have one pack of matches. To understand that we have to be in the best possible place to light each one. To know that we must make each brief combustion a bright, shining moment that pierces the darkness and illuminates a thousand gods.

It was time to go home.

All the talented bloggers that participated in this latest “Let’s blog off” would love it if you showed your appreciation by clicking on a link of your choice below to see their take on this interesting and inspiring topic.

Blogger Twitter Blog Post Link
Veronika Miller @modenus Modenus Community
Paul Anater @paul_anater Kitchen and Residential Design
Rufus Dogg @dogwalkblog DogWalkBlog
Becky Shankle @ecomod Eco-Modernism
Bob Borson @bobborson Life of an Architect
Tamara Dalton @tammyjdalton Tamara Dalton Design Studios
Sean Lintow, Sr. @SLSconstruction SLS-Construction.com
Richard Holschuh @concretedetail Concrete Detail
Kevin Lee Allen @klad2688 KLAD Design
Jody Brown @INFILLnc Coffee with an Architect
Madame Sunday @ModernSauce Modern Sauce
Roaming By Design @RoamingByDesign Roaming By Design
Beach House Finds @beachhousefinds Beach House Finds
Jane Frederick @JaneFredArch Low Country Architect
  • http://www.dogwalkblog.com DogWalkBlog

    I almost went there in my #letsblogoff, and I think that place matters a bit more than we would like to believe. Buildings have souls, neighborhoods have energy and the soul and energy needs to be greater than your own to energize you.

    But then I heard an interview on the radio while driving with some vocal artist and where she drew inspiration, etc. She was from some small town in South Dakota and amazingly talented. Her answer was small things, the radio, television, etc. And I was reminded of a mock poster the crew over at Before&After Magazine made some years ago which is burned into my brain. The headline was “Bloom where you’re planted.”

    And I’m reminded that when I feel a bit frustrated with the lack of energy around me because I am stuck in a flower pot for the time, perhaps that just means it should be my turn on stage to create energy for those around me for a while.

  • http://www.concretedetail.com Rich Holschuh

    Beautiful Veronika! And I leave that comment as reflective as it may be. The notion that heaven is a moment, and life a collection of those condensations, some sparkling, some muted, is closest to the truth for me as well. Turning these instances of connection and alignment over in my (our) hands and hearts, letting their significance shine, is to truly live a life, as the moments become memories and fill our days to the brim. The story of lighting matches resonates strongly; that image will stay with me a long time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • admin

    You make a very good point G and I completely agree with what you’re saying. I think it’s always up to us to change a situation if we don’t like it and what you say about living in a flowerpot, I can agree with wholeheartedly. But there is an issue with being the one driving force, the catalyst for dynamics in the world around us…it get’s old. People will accept someone taking the lead and being the life of the party all to happily without ever giving back, like moons being lit by a sun and wandering off when the sun begins to fade. It’s not meant to sound bitter but in my life it’s true. But what I can illuminate are those moments in my own life and chain them together, those moments are what make life seem full and long.

    Rich, I felt the same way about those Buddhas. The book is out of print but a very good read about getting up and making a change when life’s routine becomes a little like a slow death. Uprooting his family, even with small children, and just heading out to see the world was courageous, a bit crazy and very life affirming.

  • http://www.tamaradalton.net Tammy Dalton

    “To learn that we only have one pack of matches.” Indeed.

  • Pingback: My slice of heaven

  • http://www.aventetile.com/ Bill Buyok

    Powerful prose, beautifully written and profoundly true. The images got my attention. The text pulled me in.

  • http://urbanverse.posterous.com Cindy Frewen Wuellner

    Veronika: you’re ideas about memorable moments resonates with me. I love that idea and the excerpt. beautifully said. Cindy @urbanverse

  • http://www.largepot.net/large-flower-pot/large-flower-pot-stunning-flowers-upon-display/ large flower pot

    I’ll post the same information to my blog, thanks for
    ideas and great article.

  • http://www.smallflowerpots.largepot.net small flower pots

    Excellent!
    Great article, I already saved it to my favourite,

  • http://scottstultz.squarespace.com Scott A. Stultz

    Ok Veronika, you made me cry.

  • http://www.modenus.com Veronika Miller

    Not my intention Scott, just maybe to provoke a thought or two.

 

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