Colorado Mountain

by phil on Wednesday May 7, 2003 9:18 PM
Phil's Articles

This post is about one of my paintings, Colorado Mountain. The actual mountains are here, here and here

The actual Colorado Mountains make up a small mountain range twenty or so miles east of Palm Springs in California.

What initially started as a trivial 30-minute walk through the desert, spiraled into a 9 hour physical test of might and mental test of will.

Marching through the desert was this process of continually forgetting that each step forward would be another step back. I was too caught up in the immersion with nature. Walking alone in the desert envelopes you in enormous warmth. The sky becomes almost yellow as the shine of the golden dirt interferes with all of your vision. All my senses were attacked by the fire of the environment and I couldn't help but lose all of my conscious safeguards.

I eventually fixed myself upon a mountain off in the distance. I had never gone random mountain climbing before, so I had no skill in the judgment of distance. Needless to say, I completely miscalculated how long it would take to get there. And yet, as I became slightly aware of my continuous miscalculations, I simultaneously kept ignoring the cautions. My body and animal spirits were taking over my mental states, which motivated me on primitive urges. Primitive urges included the mindless desire to continue the stable rhythm of my march and also the desire to reach my destination just because.

Food. Worriment about my sustenance was also being swept under the rug. On the one hand, I felt like I needed to have food or water, otherwise "very bad things would happen." On the other hand, part of me wanted to kill my old habits and let my internal cave-man emerge. The cave-man conquered the internal modern man, which led to compounding brashness. I made the bold decision to not eat anything until I came to the mountain. This seemed, even in retrospect, a silly irrational decision. On the other hand, there was some method in the madness. I was trying to "go with my gut" or "do what I love from the get go." I figured if I just go with the most basic, most emotional, most silly motivations, that I would somehow lead a better, happier life.

After four hours of continuous hiking, I finally reached the foot of the mountain, and then I began my feast. I didn't eat all of my food for it had to be saved till I reached the top of the mountain--after all, all I had was a banana, fruit bar, and some slices of bread. But, I did eat that one banana. What a banana this was. This was the prize for my passion-directed approach, and it was well worth it. First, the anticipation preceding the opening of the banana was unlike anything I've ever had for any food before. Instead of rabidly peeling off the skin like I normally do with bananas, I took my time, making the effort to delay my pleasure so that I could enjoy the impending pleasure as much as possible. This trick worked and the first bite was nirvana of the mouth.

The story continues, but back to the painting. The painting is an expressionistic semi-representation of that little hike. On a superficial level, there are obvious connections. The warm peaks are like my warm body, standing up against the sky. The sky's dried aqua is tinted by the blurring shine of yellow form the sun. Everything is rushing upwards for it was windy most of the time. And the blues on the bottom represent the episode that succeeded the aforementioned hike. I arrived at sunset, and as a result, spent the subsequent five hours on treacherous, cold rocks.

Beyond the superficial, there are other layered meanings embedded within "Colorado Mountain." These are subjective though, and I'll leave that to your imagination.

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