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  • Today the ocean was a steel grey mirror, silver, incandescent. Towards the shore it turned white as waves rose and fell against light beige sands. Further east, towards the horizon the sea and sky merged into one thick block of grey-blue. There was no line where the ocean stopped and the sky began. It became one thing, and made the distinction of things seem trivial.

    Towards the east rose the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. Against the silver light they seemed like the drawings of a child, colored in with pastel blue crayon. The clouds drew a similar line that ran parallel to the mountain range and in the same color. This symmetry was contrasted by the pinkish hues of a rising sun, cast below it. The sun itself was also silver, like a portal into the Narnia of the skies. I tried to look at it but even with the gentle cloud cover it burned my eyes. Even a silver sun has the power of fire behind it.

    The air was filled with the sound of cheery Thanksgiving relatives home for the holidays, dogs barking excitedly on the beach after a summer of being banned from ruining people's picnics. Sometimes a gull or a duck would fly overhead, but mostly the birds were quiet, perhaps they too had decided to sleep in.

    Sometimes I would see the forms of bodies in the distance at Cattle Point. I was struck by their humaneness against the landscape, and how that at once seemed foreign and natural at the same time. I enjoyed watching bodies as forms without faces, interacting with the landscape as one might view the composition of a dance or a play. Alternately, the face of some stranger would appear very close as we walked by and smiling and saying hello I was struck by the soul behind their eyes, and the openness of their smiles.

    The world seemed remarkably good, inherently so.

    At the same time I felt perplexed that I could feel it considering the profound suffering that was being dealt to my mother, and by extension me, only two blocks away in my childhood home.

    Perhaps these two apparently contrasting experiences were actually co-dependent. Perhaps one was needed to see the other.

    Lately I have been reading about the Buddhist concept of drala - the magic inherent in everyday reality. In the Shambhala tradition it is said that we can appreciate anything that exists. There is a quality of magic within any reality. Seeing drala means getting ourselves out of the way in order to see it.

    Profound suffering offers one of the greatest opportunities to be present: at the same time as there is much potential to look away, to ignore, to hide, there is also much potential to wake up, to open our hearts, to pierce into the heart of sadness.

    Perhaps it is this very process that is opening my eyes to the world. I know my mother would say the same thing.

    "The world has never been so beautiful" she said to me in an email recently.

    If beauty can be found in the eyes of someone with a horrible illness, then how can so many of us miss it so much of the time?
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