It was about six years ago, on my first trip to Santa Fe. Zazen's Canyons Of Light album had come out not long before, and Rama had been talking about having a long desert trip over the Equinox, to visit in person many of the places that he and the guys visited musically in the album. I was excited about the trip and arranged with the company where I was consulting for vacation time.
Predictably, Rama changed his mind or got ticked off at us for something we did or for something we didn't do and canceled the trip. But this time, rather than get bummed out about it, Sophie and I decided to go anyway. So we sat down and poured over travel guides, made a buncha phone calls, and on the appointed day, flew off to the Southwest. Over the space of ten days, we visited Zuni, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon. There were innumerable cool moments along the way.
But one of the coolest moments - the sandwich moment - wasn't in any of the power places on the album. It took place in Santa Fe. We had been wandering around town all day, in hog heaven - shopping, digging the sights, shopping, going to art galleries, shopping, eating in great restaurants, and shopping, when one of those sudden thunderstorms the Southwest is famous for blew into town. We are talking torrential downpour.
Since we couldn't walk around any more, we drove around and checked out some of the outlying areas. Just before sunset, the thunderstorm began to subside, and in a fit of inspiration I suggested we try to find a cool place to see the sunset.
We drove up the Taos highway for a ways, spotted a dirt road leading off to the West, and took it. The road ended at the edge of a low bluff overlooking the Jemez mountains and what was turning into a killer panorama. The thunderclouds had blown through, so it was no longer raining. But the clouds were still there in the distance, which made for one of those amazing sunsets - the kind that has to be considered Art, and which cannot help but make you ponder the Artist.
We took the Walkperson and Canyons Of Light and two pairs of headphones and sat down to meditate. But the sunset was so breathtaking that I couldn't sit still, and was overcome with a desire to try to capture it on film, so I got up to go to the car and retrieve my camera. I turned away from one of the best light shows the desert has to offer, and found myself face to face with another.
In the sky behind us was a rainbow. And this was not your standard, garden-variety rainbow. It stretched a full 180 degrees, arcing from desert floor to desert floor, against the perfect backdrop of the low hills in the distance. I had never seen a full-arc rainbow before.
I called to Sophie and she turned and uttered the only mantra that could do the scene justice - "Wow!" We ran to the car and retrieved both cameras and spent a few minutes taking photographs. One of the ones she took of me that evening is still my favorite of any photograph taken of me in this incarnation. It shows me standing in the desert, dressed in my jeans and my Interdimensional Software T-shirt, holding the rainbow in one hand, and smiling. The photo is nice, the rainbow is nice, but it's the smile that captures the moment, and that makes the moment cool enough to be one of my tsakli.
The smile expresses what I was feeling at the time, and is the reason for the image on the card. It is the smile of someone sandwiched between one of the most spectacular sunsets in human history and one of the most perfect rainbows in that same history.
It is the smile of someone who feels like the meat in a light sandwich, nestled cozily between two exquisite slices of God, who is dressed up in her finest for a hot Saturday-night date. It is the smile of someone who, for just a moment, has realized the laughability of the term 'path' when applied to the pursuit of enlightenment, and is basking in the realization that there is nowhere to go, there is nothing to become, there is no one to be other than himself. It is the photograph I show to people when they ask me what my home looks like.