A year ago this week, I joined an international expedition of twenty to travel to Western Tibet for over three weeks and participate in a 31-mile circumambulation around Mt. Kailash, one of the most sacred mountains in the world. The powerful journey was part of a larger creative project I’m working on now, so to honor this one-year “revolution,” I’d like to share a short excerpt along with some additional photos. The scene is set at Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple on my last night.
An oversized prayer wheel stands alone and it does not spin. Mani khorlo, they are called in Tibetan. Mani—jewel. Khorlo—circle or cycle. A wheel of jeweled prayer. They are used in Tibet and around the world as ritual, like kora, to gain merit, symbolic of an ever-revolving cosmos. Often lining monasteries and temples, each wheel is usually covered in sheet metal and embossed with Sanskrit prayer. Passing devotees spin these small wooden barrels, skewered upright on an axle like rotisserie. To lubricate them, monks pour warm rapeseed oil down the shaft, leaving a dark pool at its base.
It can sometimes look like blood.
But this one prayer wheel, this outlier, is different. At over three feet tall, the Sanskrit-inscribed cylinder is bolted to a storefront wall, too high for a person to spin, even if the wheel were free. Decorative trim shines beet-red and new.
A photo essay from last week’s 15-mile circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais, retracing the footsteps of a historic route set in 1965 by beats Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Philip Whalen. Part of a larger book project in the works. Powerful experience.
Four Vows for Spiral Walkers:
Sentient beings are numberless;
I vow to save them.
Consuming desires are endless;
I vow to stop them.
Bio-relations are intricate;
I vow to honor them.
Nature’s way is beautiful;
I vow to become it.
– From “Opening the Mountain” by Matt Davis and Michael Farrell Scott
Honored to have my article “Circumnavigation: The Revolutionary Way” and photos published on Territory Run Co.’s website today. Excerpt below. These folks from Portland, Oregon, are doing wonderful things for the sport and aesthetic culture of mountain/trail running. Grateful to be a part of it. This piece is hinting at a much larger creative book/photography project I’m working on now, aiming for Summer 2016.
“So, I ask: what is it about circumnavigation? What the hell difference does it make what shape your journey carves into the mountain, into the psyche?
Perhaps it’s just nicer not to backtrack. Maybe that’s it. Maybe circling something makes it easier not to get lost. Yet I would argue for more. I would argue that something happens when we move around things, not just through them or up them or into them or over them. As outdoor enthusiasts, as howling-wilderness-animal-yahoos, when we move and interact and dance in concert with our home, this planet, something just feels right. Something becomes calibrated. Aligned. I’m convinced that to complete such a circuit is to mimic greater ecological rhythms at play all around us–seasons, cycles, orbits, weather patterns, electrical circuitry. The list goes on.” Read the full article.
This might be one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. So humbled and proud to finally share with you our short film, “The Crossing,” a 21-minute documentary about a protest I helped organize against open-pit gold mining in Baja, Mexico. Directing this film was so beautiful and difficult and time-consuming and…deeply fulfilling. The biggest ups to Mike and Alex (and Zoe!) at Ë Media. You took kindling and made a bonfire. So, here it is. I give to you, “The Crossing.” This will be only available for one month, as we will take it down at the end of August to submit to film festivals. Please watch when you have space, then share share share it with the world; I fiercely believe the planet needs more stories like these. Dedicated to all that remains untamed and free.
“The Crossing” © 2014 from Michael Hanich on Vimeo.
Words and photos from the past few weeks of visitations by good friends, talks and thoughts and travels through Wyoming wilds. Tetons + Yellowstone + Big Horns. Summer.
I SAIL IT
I sail it
A boat to travel;
Or dive deep?
I follow it
A path to meander afoot;
Through soft and tough,
Tangled bramble and view-sight-awe.
I scratch it
A wound to bleed;
On me on others on everything,
Purple scars stick around.
I hear it
A coyote to rise at dawn;
Snout-snot pointing at melting starscape,
Liberated yelp begs Moon to stay.
I browse it
A library to know to penetrate;
Ribbed rows of prose and bones,
Stillness and headphones and butterfly-catchers.
I find it
A key to unlock;
Shadowed cellar-box dusty and stale,
Only to discover another key.
I love it
A world to rest here-now-naked-alive;
Gifts of perceptual song,
Bubbling up from chambered mystery
Too grand for us, but of us.
Following a month of travel and visiting family and friends in California and Oregon, I met up with artist-beat-writer-poet-friend Trevien Stanger in Washington for a circumnavigation of the Olympic National Park. From coastal camping to running through the rainforest, this place sings songs, and we spent a few days joining in. Photos + quotes from Elizabeth Kolbert’s highly anticipated new book I just finished, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Haunting and illuminating. (Spoiler Alert: We’re in it and we’re causing it.)
“What history reveals, in its ups and downs, is that life is extremely resilient but not infinitely so. There have been very long uneventful stretches and very, very occasionally ‘revolutions on the surface of the earth’…To the extent that we can identify the causes of these revolutions, they’re highly varied: glaciation in the case of the end-Ordovician extinction, global warming and changes in the ocean chemistry at the end of the Permian, an asteroid impact in the final seconds of the Cretaceous. The current extinction has its own novel cause: not an asteroid or a massive volcanic eruption but ‘one weedy species.’ As Walter Alvarez put it to me: ‘We’re seeing right now that a mass extinction can be caused by human beings.'”
Calling all creatives, all revolutionaries, all architects of a new, more sustainable, resilient and authentic future. Please take a minute to watch our new video teaser and consider supporting this project. After the first two days of its launch, we have already fundraised a 1/4 of our goal. Share with your worlds, and please join us in celebrating and defending wild spaces.