I left the boat in the dark, walking on land untouched by human feet.
It was 5:00 AM. The large sandbank we spent the night on was reclaimed from a river that had dropped many feet below monsoon level. No humans wandered here. There was virtually no life. It was just me and the sand, the boat generator growling in the background.
The light was hazy; mostly all I saw was sand and sky and water. As dawn started breaking, vague contours became distant hills.
I roamed, searching for an image to take as a keepsake of this morning. Praying for a holy man to emerge from the mist didn’t do the trick, but it did bring back the memory of a man on the Ganges who appeared to walk on water. That image had memorialized the moment. Now I prayed for something to memorialize this morning.
I started seeing shapes in the sand. I found myself appreciating the beauty in every one of them. They became beautiful on my screen.
Until I realized I had just memorialized a bird dropping. Was I that desperate for beauty? Was there beauty in everything?
A transcendent picture of shit?
I was walking in a trance, meditating on God’s gifts, when I almost stepped on Her. Shocked, all I could do was stare.
Ganesha lay before me in the wet sand. Fearing she was a creation of my mind, I hastened to abduct her image—sheltering her in my Cloud—and quietly walked away.
On the ship, showing the blessed gift to my friends, I couldn’t articulate my experience.
“Who drew that?”
“Oh, yeah, sure . . .”
It didn’t go over well.
I went out for more wandering. But Ganesha would not let me go.
I had to go back to her.
I recalled a tiny nut imbedded in her image. I decided the nut must have been the artist, pushed around by the wind. Now I wanted that nut.
Trying to find a tiny pattern in a vast expanse of sand was even harder than I could have imagined. I gave up twice. But when I realized I still had a few minutes before the boat left, I dashed back out for one more search.
My old footprints finally led me to the spot. I scooped up the nut and sped towards the boat.
Gently brushing away the sand, I watched as the nut turned into a beautiful little clamshell.
And then I understood: my Goddess had crawled into the clamshell, danced around to draw her self-portrait, then drawn me to her through the morning mist.
I don’t know where my Goddess floated off to afterward, but I’m bringing her clamshell home with me. She can rest in it whenever she needs to.