The picture of the Sydney Opera House reminds me of this photo I took this week on a walk through the Fox Hill Nature Preserve, one of the properties owned by my new employer, Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation.
Electric lights don’t seem to hold a candle to a day of sunshine on the first of June when the air temperature is a cool 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in mid-day, every color seemed to pop with vibrancy and life!
Today’s challenge is to photograph scenes that are not your destination, but are the ‘mundane moments’ in between. This is a bit tricky, as I try very hard not to see any moment as mundane and not to focus on a destination and forget that the journey and process are very important. I have lots of photos of the flowers along the way as well. So, I thought I’d do something a bit different. I’m going to show you wayside signs. This first one is one of my favorites, located just beyond the security checkpoint at the Milwaukee airport:
It makes you consider: what is recombobulation? How discombobulated do you feel when you have relinquished your shoes, purse, backpack, laptop and phone and had your body scanned by electronic devices? How about this one:
How considerate to warn cars passing on the highway that poisonous gas has leaked from these oil refineries! But once you are passing, how do you heed the ‘Do Not Enter’ warning? Do not enter what? The surrounding airspace? Then there’s this:
I wonder at the necessity of this sign. Who would manhandle a bat if they happened to come upon one in a cave? I hate to think. If not afraid, I would hope they’d be respectful. And finally, consider this proposition:How would you set the table in this picnic area? I hope you brought plenty of duct tape and napkins!
In the Wisconsin woodlands, the force of Nature in Springtime is GROWTH!
Plants that have lain dormant for months have an incredible urge to surge and unfurl. You can see greening in a matter of hours, really. The wildflowers on the forest floor have a limited opportunity to pop up and take in the sunshine before the canopy leaves provide too much shade. Early May is the best time to see woodland wildflowers in bloom.
A wildflower is an inspirational force of nature. You may think they are delicate and fragile, and they are, being ephemerals. But they are also survivors. They are perennials uniquely adapted to their habitat. They do not require any tending, care, watering, pruning, pampering or husbandry to blaze up every year with the desire to GROW. I like to think of them as my ‘spirit flowers’. I’ve been a widow and single mother of 4 for 7 years; I am a woman with a fierce desire to grow and sustain my life and my kids’ in the most natural way I can. My kids are grown and living independently from me now, and we are each beautiful illustrations of the fragility and tenacity of life. Yes, we are WILDFLOWERS in many ways.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and nurturers of life who recognize the force and the freedom of growth in themselves and in others!
Not exactly the same as ‘adrift’. You can be anxious, being adrift, afraid you’ve lost your bearings, veered off course, or abandoned your purpose. Afloat is the feeling of being supported gently, effortlessly. It’s a kind of dreamy state, I think. Last year, the day after my birthday, I treated myself to a sail on the Denis Sullivan, a facsimile of a 19th century lake vessel owned by the museum where I worked at the time. The day was completely calm and foggy.
There was a very quiet, gentleness to the water. It was very relaxing. The crew still went through the activities of raising the sails, and we helped (a little), but mostly hung around idle.
It’s nice to be afloat, but I wouldn’t want to do it every day. I like being engaged in a stimulating effort to take responsibility for myself in my life. I don’t want to expect an easy ride, and I don’t want to complain or blame some other entity for not supporting me. I appreciate resources, but I don’t feel entitled to them, and I’m very willing to go without a lot of things. I think this attitude is very simple and useful.
“It’s all a merciful blur…” is one of my mother’s signature responses. (from a description of 10 Silly Sayings that characterize her 80-year-old personality, from THIS POST) Blurring can be a good coping skill. It can be a result of too little sleep, too much crying, too much alcohol, or too much fantasy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, now and again. Softening edges can be useful when you’re feeling scraped and bruised. But it’s only temporary, for me. I really want to live my life in clear focus, as aware as I can be, facing reality. Consequently, I doubt I’ve kept many blurry photos. Here’s one I took yesterday…
…and here’s one I took from the passenger’s seat on I-94. I was trying to imitate Karen McRae from “draw and shoot”. Her art is superb (which explains why she’s got almost 15,000 followers!).
What I mostly get are blurry photos of people who don’t stay still…
…or places that are poorly lit.
It is a challenge to develop the appropriately artistic “merciful blur”, to be used in scary situations (like on the Jersey turnpike?). Still working on it…
Spring is host to many different kinds of ephemerals: ponds, wildflowers and insects, to name a few broad categories. Nature is ever-changing; habitats and inhabitants come and go. Yet humans often like to think of themselves as permanent and solid (‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’). This is a great irony, given our surroundings. To live in the moment, to appreciate your own presence and transience in the same breath — there is the key to living gracefully! To realize life is as beautiful and fleeting as frost on my window,…
as powerful and swift as a rush of laughter.
It flickers like a candle flame: mesmerizing, warm and ultimately fragile….
…while surrounded by mighty forces which shape its destiny.
Yes, my life is ephemeral, but LIFE is an ongoing flow that fills the aeons.
“All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall.” Pink Floyd (my very first impulse; it’s always a song)
The wailing wall, the Berlin wall, the Great Wall of China…so many iconic walls. What about the wall we put up when our privacy is threatened or when our emotions are about to bubble over, and we don’t want to seem vulnerable? Walls and boundaries, according to Steve, are useful at times, but he hopes they are all only temporary. His goal is to be open, always. (You can probably guess he’s a pretty confident person. Me? I like to have somewhere safe to hide.) Fences and walls in poetry: Robert Frost “Mending Wall” (‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall’ – yeah, like Steve) and D. H. Lawrence “Snake”(the snake comes out of an earth-wall into his water trough and…well, read the poem. It’s good.) My wall of photos, or my photos of Wall:
Whew! So many walls…gotta go out and walk in open space now. It’s almost Spring – I may even leave my parka behind!
What a great thing to contemplate: scale. How overwhelming our lives become when our scale references are distorted! For example, how imposing our thoughts can seem on the landscape of our lives. My daughter gave me an illustration of this: imagine someone holding a large book in front of your face and asking you what you saw. You’d see the book and maybe a bit of the room from your peripheral vision. Now, if you moved the book to one side, you’d still see the book, but you’d also see more of the room. It’s hard to make thoughts go away, but you can take them out of the forefront. That’s what meditation is about — being aware of your thoughts, but not letting them dominate your view. We make so many mountains out of mole hills in this culture. There is so much OMG; like MSG, it can make us feel lousy. Media hyper-activity and fear-mongering is like that, I think. We need to dial down the lens, deflate our egos, maintain a humble perspective. We are one leaf on a vast and robust tree of life. We are beautiful; the tree is beautiful. We are not greater than or less than the rest.
What an invitation! “Express Yourself” – squeeze yourself into a photograph or a gallery, squirting out the essence of your personality, your style, your philosophy, your vision. This could be one messy catharsis! Here goes:
What was THAT about?!
Well, here is something I’ve been pondering lately: Eckhart Tolle’s profound revelation “I can’t live with myself any longer.” In order to arrive at such a conclusion, he must have thought there was a difference between ‘I’ (the authentic and divine being) and ‘My Self’ (the false delusion we sometimes call ‘ego’). Seeing the juxtaposition of these two ideas of a person leads me to recognize that there is a lot of falsity, of gibberish and nonsense that we superimpose on the experience of existence. That veneer surrounds us and can build up, layer upon layer to stifling proportions. And then, sometimes there’s a break through. A simple, true observation of the wonder of existence that doesn’t explain everything, but stands in almost blinding clarity against the noise of culture.
Anyway, my gallery illustrates how I am living astride this double existence. I interact with people who are a complex combination of I/Self expressions, I deal with objects which are mostly complete gibberish but which many people value anyway, and I marvel at Nature and grieve our exploitation of its pure embodiment of Life.
Hope you found this entertaining and thought-provoking. I appreciate the invitation to share my view!
Serenity. A marvelous theme. Placid water, still mind. Peacefulness, harmony. Keeping your surroundings still, small and simple. My partner, Steve, is working on a New Year’s resolution. So far, what I know he’s aiming at is maintaining more quiet in his life, perhaps returning to a practice of meditation and yoga.