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Click for Tsakli GalleryNecklace of Light

The Image: A string of pearls, hanging in midair in a landscape of cacti and desert flora, glowing, shining as brightly in the desert night as the stars themselves.

I'm driving out of Joshua Tree after a desert trip. I have two friends with me in the car, but the night has been so powerful and the experiences so overwhelming that none of us can speak. We can't even bring ourselves to put on any music. We just ride along, tuned into the higher music of silence.

The road twists and turns through the desert night. Every time I crest a hill, I can see this seemingly endless stream of tail lights in front of me. Gazing in the rear-view mirror, there is an equally long line of headlights behind. The line of cars driving out literally goes on for miles, a necklace of light winding its way through the desert night. I begin to groove on this necklace idea, having fun thinking of myself as just another bead on it.

But after a while, I realize that this isn't just a fun thought - there really is a connection between these cars. I can actually see a physical thread of light connecting each of the cars, and each of the students in the cars. I can feel it piercing me through the heart. It hurts, but in a pleasant sort of way. The physical experience of this nonphysical lightthread feels somehow like what would happen if you combined the terms poignancy and eternity into one subjective phenomenon.

As I drive, I develop more and more of a sense of how many students there are on this trip, how tightly they are connected, and how incredibly long they have been connected. Not for the first time, I wonder how many times and in how many places my companions and I have journeyed through the night like this, walking or riding in a single line behind Rama? How many more such journeys will we share? Will we ever figure out where we're going? Will I ever stop getting lost in meaningless questions like this? With a smile, I mentally shake myself out of this silly train of thought, pop a Tangerine Dream tape into the cassette player, and get back to just enjoying the ride.



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