26 August 2020

Open spaces make for ‘wanderment'


I remember seeing a cartoon featuring a man and a little boy. They were standing at a point from where they could see a vast span of rugged desert below them. The man tells the boy, ‘one day, my son, all this will be infrastructure!’

The man obviously thought that such an eventuality would be a good thing. Maybe the cartoonist was being cynical. The man, however, had imagination. Few would extract a teeming metropole from a wind-swept dust bowl.  

That’s one way of repainting the desert. There are many other ways in which a mind-brush with heart-colors could create. Better pictures than infrastructure, one might say. Of course the ‘infrastructuralists’ would beg to differ. Takes all kinds to make the world. Or break it.

Open spaces. They make for reflection. Even a grain of sand makes for reflection of course. Anything and everything contains meditative seed. 


A good imagination can draw forth wonderful things from seemingly inauspicious elements, big or small, but let’s leave aside such philosophical objections for a while.

Open spaces teach us how enormous the world is and how tiny we are. And that's just one thing to wonder about. You can also wander all over such places, stop where you want, take off again, at your own pace. You could pick a flower and ask yourself how it got its colors and texture or abstract yourself from place and moment to float in its fragrance. Pick a pebble and and imagine the mountain it may have once been a part of or the riverbed it might line one day.



A clear sky is a canvas. It’s blueness that is a calm ocean turned upside down. And if there are wisps of cloud, that’s just the foam from breaking waves. The Book of Clouds is a mystical text that hasn’t yet been written, but strangely enough one that can still be read. There are monsters and fairies, all kinds of creatures, landscapes too.

Maybe it’s a beach that’s giving you the wide span for the imagination-brush to run riot, or work in serenity. Maybe it’s a weather-worn pathway cluttered with boulders and made too uneven for even the most rugged vehicle. Maybe it’s a mountain range. Maybe the vast expanse of a rolling valley.

What histories lie buried therein, do we know? Can we imagine? What histories in blood-rush or quietude are to unfold or will there be none, just slow-moving things that watch and keep opinion to themselves?  And what stories do solitary trees or those that are dead and yet with dried branches resolutely marking present against a vacant sky have to tell?


We can walk open spaces. We can see them as books yet unwritten or else as beautifully crafted epics which can be read if we decode the languages that have evolved over millennia.

In another time, another landscape of being, someone observed that whereas open wounds are for blood-letting, open words are for love-letting. There is openness all around us. It’s in a book or a garden, a flower and the feather lying on a sidewalk, a conversation interrupted and the words not said, a thought befuddled by other thoughts that arrived uninvited, in the time-smudged word or frayed edge of an old love letter and of course spaces uncluttered by the everyday that bludgeons with routine. 
You can go visit them or you can imagine them. Either way, an open space is a canvas for a mind-brush wielded by a heart open to 'wanderment'. Happy painting!

Other articles in the series 'In Passing...':  [published in the 'Daily News']   
Eyes that watch the world and cannot be forgotten 
 Let's start with the credits, shall we? 
The 'We' that 'I' forgot 
'Duwapang Askey,' screamed a legend, almost 40 years ago
Dances with daughters
Reflections on shameless writing
Is the old house still standing?
 Magic doesn't make its way into the classifieds

Small is beautiful and is a consolation  
Distance is a product of the will
Akalanka Athukorala, at 13+ already a hurricane hunter
Did the mountain move, and if so why?
Ever been out of Colombo?
Anya Raux educated me about Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
Wicky's Story You can always go to GOAT Mountain
Let's learn the art of embracing damage
Kandy Lake is lined with poetry
There's never a 'right moment' for love
A love note to an unknown address in Los Ange
A dusk song for Rasika Jayakody
How about creating some history?
How far away are the faraway places?
There ARE good people!
Re-placing people in the story of schooldays  
When we stop, we can begin to learn
Routine and pattern can checkmate poetry

Janani Amanda Umandi threw a b'day party for her father 
Sriyani and her serendipity shop
Forget constellations and the names of oceans
Where's your 'One, Galle Face'?

Maps as wrapping paper, roads as ribbons
Yasaratne, the gentle giant of Divulgane  
Katharagama and Athara Maga
Victories are made by assists
Lost and found between weaver and weave
The Dhammapada and word-intricacies
S.A. Dissanayake taught children to walk in the clouds
White is a color we forget too often  
The most beautiful road is yet to meet a cartographer