— RP contributor Timothy Fuller, our resident sage, takes a close look at the many layers of self; wisdom stemming from the sun-soaked shores of Big Sur.
I PULLED INTO an overlook along the Pacific Coast Highway and watched the sun sink into hues of a fiery orange-red, then majestic purple as it washed into a haze of approaching night. To gaze across an ocean is also to catch a glimpse of the circumference of the earth. You cannot measure it with your eyes alone, but only by expanding the radius of your imagination. We attempt to measure the distance, but we only catch a glimpse. The circumference could be tens of thousands of miles, but we sit atop the bluff like a speck at sea, standing motionless before the immensity of the infinite.
Oceans of self swell from deep currents of experience and we project “what is” and “what could be.” We take note of the circumference of our experience, measure its distance and then set about expanding the radius. The distance is between “who we are” and “who we will become.” What jobs we worked, what people we met, who we loved, what sunsets we watched in silent moments and what oceans remain untraveled.
‘There are oceans of experience waiting to be discovered.’
All travel is an inner exploration first. We are an evolving consciousness trapped by matter. Our bodies carry us around and we experience the universe through the fundamental laws of nature. However, as we set a new palette of experience before us, we learn and grow. Holding tight to a notion of “who we once were” and never expanding the radius prevents not only an external exploration, but an internal experience as well. We grow comfortable and see the world through the lens of a very shallow ego, and only through that new set of infinite experience can we expand the radius to not just include the “who am I here,” but the “who am I amongst the greater currents of the infinite?”
By sitting still at a coffee shop over the past few years, my universe has become the coffee shop. Or my radius widens to a small town. And I am not the center of the coffee shop or the town, but merely the observer from within my center of self. My antenna reaches around into boundless space and creates my experience, which informs my evolving consciousness. To widen the set of experience, sometimes you have to jump into a Subaru and drive the distance between Estes Park and Big Sur. There are oceans of open road between them and oceans of experience waiting to be discovered. Who I was two weeks ago is not who I am today. The man that stood at the coffee shop will not return the same, just as the man that got a barista job four years ago was a blooming seedling that sought to know himself amongst the deeper currents of “who I once was” and “who I could become.”
‘Choose a path according to instinct.’
Carl Sagan is noted for saying “we are one with the cosmos,” but also because we are a cosmos unto ourselves. My universe learns from the greater universe around me, but I only experience the universe through a very narrow-minded perspective of a great unknown. By holding tight to the center of “who I am” and recalling “who I once was”, I can expand the radius of “who I will become.” We use our antennas, feel out into the distant deserts and sandy shores with our intuitions. Choose a path according to instinct honed by experience and the measure of our heart’s worth. You can sit along the rocky bluffs of Big Sur and remember the road that took you there, but also imagine the road ahead.
The road ahead is merely a projection. Maybe I envision a coffee shop and a tourist season. I imagine what I will do, who I will meet, what I will write, or maybe what I will think. But new experiences are only filtered through the infinity of the past. Who my past self was determines the future course of actions and reactions that will determine “who I become.” Through a lens of hindsight I reflect on my mistakes, and by learning from those mistakes I can reach out in the boundless space of what I could achieve. Our potential is measured not only by our past, but our willingness to expand the radius. We imagine ourselves at dawn along the rocky bluffs of last night’s sunset. We take note of the circumference, hold tight to the center, and look out to a sea of selves yet uncharted.
About the Author
Timothy studied cultural anthropology at Rutgers College in New Brunswick, NJ and went on to work various temp jobs and bum his way around the third world. He currently lives in Estes Park, CO where he runs the coffee shop Inkwell & Brew. He has written for the magazines Melrose Heights, Tinsel Tokyo, and TCHAD, and is soon to release his debut novel WE ALL DANCE AT ONCE. Several works of poetry are under construction. He is happy, healthy, and desirous of everything at once.
“Our potential is measured not only by our past, but our willingness to expand the radius.” = Truth
Thank you for this thoughtful and honest meditation on the gifts–interior and exterior–of travel and moving beyond comfort zones & what is known…
-Laura the Librarian