“God is watching us…from a distance.” ― Julie Gold
“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”
“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.”
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
“For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.” ― Khalil Gibran
“Daddy, won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River, where Paradise lay. Well, I’m sorry, my son, but you’re too late in asking. Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.”
― John Prine
What does Nature teach us when we stand beside a river, ever flowing, ever changing, where life and death coexist in a dynamic dance?
Pay attention. We are one with the river. We can accept its flow. We can steer toward the depths. We do not conquer it.
Thank you, Amy, for inviting us to contemplate and visualize rivers. They are great teachers.
Perhaps presciently, Ann-Christine chose the theme of CHAOS for this week’s Photo Challenge even before the pandemic was declared.
What an interesting word – indeed, an interesting concept. I suspect that only human beings, with their big brains and their social biology, even experience chaos. I imagine chaos to be attributed to a situation that evokes a kind of fear, but on a more complex level than a fear for one’s basic survival.
Social chaos, for example.
Probably most of us have experienced the confusing disorder of emotions and associations that might be described as social chaos. Where do I fit in? How do I connect? Do my feelings mesh with anyone else’s? These thoughts can be quite unsettling to me, but I don’t imagine spiders or starfish or blue jays dealing with that kind of survival anxiety.
Some humans believe that we have a superior gift for bringing order out of chaos. I look at homeowners blowing those untidy leaves off of their driveway in the fall, and I wonder if they imagine they are making the world more orderly while forgetting that our suburban consumption creates chaotic waste in much greater proportions.
If chaos provokes a kind of fear or discomfort, then each of us probably has a different threshold of tolerance for it. And each of us can probably reset that threshold with a bit of work. How comfortable can you become with disorder, ambiguity, or uncertainty? I have to admit that I found parenting to be a great exercise in adaptation to chaos. There were plenty of times that I wasn’t in control of the situation, but I survived, and I certainly learned a lot…and I actually enjoyed it.
There is plenty to learn in the present climate of global chaos in the human family. There are certainly many questions with unknown answers. There is confusion and ambiguity and anxiety about how we fit together, how we feel, and how we ought to act. And this is going on at a very high level of cognitive function. It is a situation that is created in our big brains.
At the same time, in the world outside our big brains, Nature is functioning as usual. Organisms emerge, populations respond, life and death dance together in fascinating rhythm. I find this incredibly peaceful, a perfect antidote to chaos. Breathing in the assurance of Nature’s presence, I am strengthened for the work of being a human. It’s not easy work. We have a lot of responsibility. But the first responsibility is being aware of who we are as a species. May we be humble. May we be kind to every being on the Tree of Life.
On March 12, 1912, Juliette Low founded the Girl Scouts of America with a troop of 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia. I became a Brownie Girl Scout on Jan. 21, 1970. My mother was already a leader with one of my older sisters’ troops. I stayed in Scouting through my senior year of High School, and then became a Daisy and Brownie leader when my youngest girls were in kindergarten and first grade. Here is proof of my dedication to this fine organization: my fifth grade school picture.
School picture day just happened to be the same day that I had a meeting after school. We were encouraged to wear our uniforms to meetings. So, because I was an obedient child and followed the rules, I have this historic photo to prove that I was a bona fide Girl Scout at the age of 10. I found it pretty embarrassing at the time, though, to be the only child in uniform for the class composite photo. Ah well, there’s a nerd in every class. Oh, this photo also supports the story I told about visiting Hawaii and being mistaken for a boy. One could also have mistaken me for a chipmunk.
What was great about Girl Scouts? Camping. Singing silly songs. Downhill skiing. Climbing to the top of the Statue of Liberty in my uniform and platform shoes. Sneaking out of my tent in the full moonlight and posing as a statue along a State Park road. Skinny dipping. Roasting marshmallows. Learning a whole bunch of useful skills, like swimming and first aid. Meeting other girls from all over the country at a national event and feeling accepted. Gaining confidence in my capacity to learn and be responsible.
What will I always retain from Girl Scouts? My love of the outdoors. My ability to build a fire. My enthusiasm for hiking up a mountain in the hot sun. My desire to be helpful and do good deeds. Here’s proof from this decade:
So, Girl Scouts, how about a chorus of the old song:
Girl Scouts together that is our song
Winding the old trails, rocky and long
Learning our motto, living our creed
Girl Scouts together in every good deed.
Happy Birthday, Girls!!
Reposting from July 10, 2015; my dad died 10 years ago on March 19:
Today is my father’s birthday. He’s been dead for 5 years, but his influence on my life has been incredibly profound. I look through my photos and recognize him in symbolic images that point to something he represented in my life. Representation is a well-developed part of human culture. We use it in language, art, religion, philosophy, identity and so many other ways. The real challenge we ‘civilized’ folk have is to strip away representations and come face-to-face with actual entities. My father was highly educated and an educator himself. His facility with symbol was quite advanced: he was a mathematician and a writer and combined those skills in his career as a Technical Writer. I am grateful for the symbols I still see that remind me of his life, his personality, his love.
“Use reflective surfaces to create an artistic echo of a scene…”
Mirror, mirror on the wall…why is it I blog at all?
I started this blog when I began my 50th year of life. That was in August of 2011. I had just moved to Wisconsin to live with Steve. I was widowed three and a half years. I had a lot to process and a lot to learn.
I am now facing another transition: leaving Wisconsin and Steve to live in Oregon, closer to three of my four adult children, my mother, and my three siblings. I have a lot to process and a lot to learn.
I learn by reflecting on what I’ve seen.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
I am making this cross-country move because I have learned again what I always knew to be my Truth: that I belong most importantly in my Family – my family of origin and the family that my late husband and I loved into being.
“Art is not a reflection of reality, it is the reality of a reflection.”
― Jean-Luc Godard
Writing in this blog, storing photographs and memories, was a way to plant the seeds of realization. In my words and pictures, I remind myself who I truly am and see who I am becoming.
“There is one art of which man should be master, the art of reflection.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge
All my artistic echoes have origins in my mother and repercussions in my children. Being so distant from their heartbeats just doesn’t make sense. I need to hear the rhythm of our art, our lives, in order to keep dancing.
“What we do now echoes in eternity.”
― Marcus Aurelius