Gazing Upwards – Barrier # 10

Looking Upwards

Gazing Upwards © 2011 Bo Mackison

This post is the tenth in a series of my story, an intimate exploration of art and healing. See the introduction and complete series at My Healing Journey.

“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” ~ Pamela Vaull Starr

I love this barrier in the photograph. In the physical world, it’s all bricks and boarded windows. A street address scrawled on a mural. Hinges and the door’s outline give little hint at what might be inside. Yet, the windows and door are covered with a huge print of a woman’s face, her eyes directed upwards and outwards.

Solid barriers. Yet the distance from behind all kinds of barriers to the beyond is never further than a gaze upwards and outwards. The barrier may be limiting thoughts. If I gaze beyond those thoughts, I can see the dreams that unfold into the plans that attain the goals. Step by step, baby steps. Many tiny steps forward and suddenly I’ve walked a mile. I’ve reached what I once believed to be the impossible goal.

“Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you reach your destiny.” ~ Carl Schurz

The sky is always visible. The Universe, expanding beyond us in distances of time and space our human minds can barely grasp, is beyond our naked-eye visual capabilities, but it is there. We know the Universe exists, even if it is beyond our grasp, beyond our seeing.

When I get bogged down in present day happenings and the focus on myself, this photograph reminds me to move beyond, beyond what my mind can easily grasp, beyond what I can see clearly with my eyes. Listen to the messages from my heart and spirit. Choose my guides. Move beyond my comfort zone, beyond my preconceived notions of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

“The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is ‘look under foot.’ You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world.” ~ John Burroughs

Once I have gazed at the stars, the moon, the sunlit sky, even the cloudy gray skies, once I have connected with the divine, then I return to my space and my time. I ground myself in this moment, the place where I stand. The place that grounds me in the here and now. I find the strength and the courage to set my goals for the day or the month or for a life time. And I move forward.

Possibility exists. The sky is visible to all. And as the Burroughs’ quote reminds us, we each have a place under the stars. We each have a place in the world. Opportunity is under our feet, even as we look to the sky and grasp for the stars.

Next: Through the Tunnel

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Intriguing post – linkage to the photo barrier very interesting.

  2. It’s that internal belief and drive that keeps us all going forward. And – here you are – doing it..showing us the path and the way.

  3. The photograph tells the story–the barrier, the upward, hopeful gaze.
    The Burroughs quote speaks to me.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. This photo is quite fascinating. That you even noticed this sight and thought to photograph it then write such compelling, personal prose speaks to the higher creative within you. Wow.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I was quite taken with this storefront when I walked by it. The whole glass area was a woman’s face. Didn’t know why I took so many photos that day, but glad I did.

  5. Wonderful, wonderful.

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