Archive for Machu Picchu

The History of the Universe Part II or “A wormhole, about yay big.”

Posted in Autobiographical, Machu Picchu, Zathura with tags on December 24, 2011 by smpiv

00:53:11 What’s a time sphincter?

00:53:13 A wormhole, about yay big:

Thus quoth the astronaut, in the movie “Zathura”, as he holds up his thumb and index finger to outline a small orifice.

I love this line.

It’s a pithy way to say that something is difficult; difficult to understand; to find; to go through; to comprehend.


I’ve tried to peak around the corner a number of times in an effort to cheat time—not to garner more of it, but to see how this book will end and is this only volume one. Too comprehend.

The first time I thought I had gotten a look was when I was in the second grade.  I was in a Quaker elementary school and like a lot of my early years; quiet reflection was not one of my abilities.  For me it was all head on, very visceral.  Rambunctious would best describe me.

So with the elegance that only slow motion can detect I jumped from the upper deck of a playground jungle gym and squarely on my head.

Isaac, the custodian, picked me up and carried me.  In my time compressed timeline I am then in an ambulance, laying thrilled by the sound of the siren.  As I looked up the ceiling light was filled by the head of someone dressed all in white.

A halo sparked around the edges of someone’s head.  Presbyterian Kindergarten, Catholic first grade and now Quaker second grade, made it quite obvious to me that I was in the presence of an angel. My mother told me it was my father in his whites.

Even being told the obvious that image haunts me.


In my teen years I could hold my breath for a long time.

To push this talent to an extreme I had trained myself to relax to an extreme.  My resting heart rate was very low and I could slow it even further.  I would take a deep breath and lower my head into the water and fade away.

I never contested anyone with this talent or even told anyone what I was doing.  I also never pushed it to the SEAL extreme of borderline death—I think.  What I did do was to reach a point of relaxation that allowed my mind to wander away.  It was very much like going through a door.

A small door with very little room on the other side, but comfortable all the same.  Once there I would leave for two or three minutes, sometimes more.  When I came back it was rarely for lack of breath, but for a sudden consciousness that said to go back.  Up would come my head, my long hair framing my face with the sound of water streaming back on itself.


The highlight of my architectural education was going to Machu Picchu.  It was part of a three week journey to Peru, that included two weeks far down the Amazon River and then for a week in Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is a place I had wanted to visit since I was a child. “Gods, Graves and Scholars”, lent to me by my mother, was the portal that opened my mind’s eye to history and man’s footprint.  It motivated further exploration that brought the Incans to light for me.

I was certain that if there were truly power points on earth that this would be one of them.  A blue aura would emanate from the stone like the aurora borealis; the universe intermingling with our small rock.  I would be able to hear the Aborigines; echoes of the Druids; and the ancient Incans.  I would see beyond our earthly existence.

Well, the closest I came to seeing the other side was on the bus ride as it switched back again and again as it made its way to the ruins.  The road is perilous and view down is straight down—nerve wracking.

The ruins themselves are spectacular, but there was no blue light, no epiphany, the universe stood at its usual distance and the voices I heard were mostly in German and English.  The place is breathtaking but quite dead.


So in this brief survey it seems that, in fact, I haven’t gotten the briefest glimpse of the other side.

I do think, though, that the journey is the difficult part and that passing through the time sphincter will be the easy part.

Just shut your eyes and hold your breath.