Tag Archives: Photography

Horizons

Photo: A beautiful image from my wanderings in the Southwest.  It might seem odd that I chose this pic for Emerson’s quote.  After all, this horizon seems confined once your eyes meet the mountains.  But actually, the horizon goes on.  You know there is more behind the mountains, and the clouds add that depth as they gracefully stretch into the infinite.

There are many illusions and distortions in our lives.  Those mountains in the foreground look close, but they are really quite distant.  You discover this as you hike towards them as they seem to forever retreat from your advance.  And once you reach this apparent obstruction, this natural barricade, you can see that the desert plane boundlessly unfolds in every direction.  You can get lost out here.  Lost physically and mentally as the vastness unbinds you and swallows up your soul.

***

Worlds and Eternities

Photo: Jenny Lake at Grand Teton National Park.  The Shoshones called this mountain range “Teewinot” – the many pinnacles.”

Every angle, every nuance of light and shadow, every frame in the mind’s eye – different worlds.  From the grains of sand on the shoreline, the wooded tails, the mountain peaks – all Universes within themselves.

As you look in the distance, the scene is not only majestic, it is infinite.  There are no borders, there is no time.

In fact, these are very young mountains in terms of geological time 🙂

***

 

A Worthy Trade

We all misplace things from time-to-time.  Car keys, your cell phone, a pair of glasses, a pen.  Perhaps a favorite shirt.  Of course, there is also the void.   A vortex.  That place where a single sock or the lids to our plastic containers seem to just vanish.  To be swallowed up.  Leaving behind the sad, unmatched partner, only to be discarded at a future date.

Their usefulness now lost . . .

And sometimes I think the spirits are messing with me.  Because I search and search, retrace my steps, look in the same place multiple times, and there it is, my quarry, sitting in one of the same spots I’ve searched three times over.  Only now it’s so obvious I can’t miss it if I tried.

I wonder ???

Over the years, I’ve tried to keep a copy of everything I’ve had published.  It’s nice to have an electronic copy, but even better to have a hard copy.  Something tangible.  Something I can hold in my hands.  Feel the texture of the paper.  Smell the ink.  Visualize the word placement.  Hear the words as I read through them.

There’s something about the whole sensory experience that makes it more magical.

Continue reading A Worthy Trade

Day Dreaming

I woke up to a chilly negative seven degrees this morning.  That cold, biting air dug into my consciousness and said, “Hey, snap out of it.”  But what was “it?”

“It” has been the brain fog I’ve been in now for over a week.

“It” has thoroughly slapped me around, kicked in my rib cage, pummeled my face, knocked me down, and thrown me off balance.

“It” has challenged my days and made it difficult to write.

Yeah, I know, excuses, excuses.  But fighting pollution has taken on a whole new meaning for me this past couple of years.  Those unseen flyspecks, minute assassins, bouncing around my home.  Laying in wait.  Invading my brain.  Committing molecular murder.

With malice aforethought, “it” extinguishes my memory.

Evil.

Industrial chemicals.  A toxic world.

How to fight back?  Drift into a day dream . . .

A deep, clear, midnight blue lake, stretching out on the horizon, lapping against the shores of lodge pole pines, mountains shadow down in the distance.  Mirror reflections.  A shimmering pool.  A sailboat to slide across this glass surface.  Sanguine, tranquil, serene.

A distant memory.  Unleashing endorphins.  Light dancing in my camera’s lens. Euphoric.

I crank up the music – Freddy Jones Band – In a Day Dream

Tuesday morning,
Never looked so good.
I’m already in,
In a daydream.

The sun is shining,
To wake me up.
No one around,
Just me and the sky.

I’m already in,
In a daydream.
I’m already in,
In a daydream.

The sky is calling,
Calling out my name.
Telling me just to stay,
Stay and don’t go away.

I’m already in,
In a daydream.
I’m already in,
In a daydream.

In a daydream…
In a daydream…
In a daydream…
Already in a daydream…

And so I begin anew, rising from the flames, oscillating between past travels, and future adventures.  The words come . . .

***

Photo: Day dreaming of the Grand Tetons.

Our Greatest Opponent

goose island - glacier national + opponent

Photo: Most people who have visited Glacier National Park in Montana have probably captured this very photo as you are coming in from the east entrance to the park along the Going To The Sun Road. The tiny island is Wild Goose Island sitting in the middle of St. Mary Lake.

The mountain peaks on the south side of the lake (left in photo) include Red Eagle Mountain, Mahtotopa Mountain, Little Chief Mountain, Dusty Star Mountain and Citadel Mountain.  Gunsight Mountain and Fusillade Mountain are at the far end of the lake.  And on the north side, (to the right) not really captured in the photo are Goat Mountain and Going-to-The-Sun Mountain.

Not much further down this road was where I had my first encounter with Grizzly Bears.  A pair strolling along up on one of the mountain slopes.  It was an amazing sight to behold.  A gift.

I chose this pick for the quote, because it’s when we overcome our doubts and fears that we will experience the greatest adventures, encounter the greatest beauty, replace our ignorance with knowledge, and have our ego put in its place, having seen what a tiny speck we are in such an infinite Universe.

***

May You Soar High In the New Year

Sandhill Cranes Plus Text

So yesterday I stumbled on this quote and I thought Wow!  What a great thought.  Not that I wish to take anything away from the celebration of New Year’s Eve, but I like the lofty idea of changing the world.

And then I thought, not the world in the “global” sense, although that too is a great aspiration.  I thought, our own “worlds.”  Yes, let’s celebrate all of those amazing and positive changes we bring into our own lives.

I wish you all many blessing for the New Year !

***

Photo:  Some Sandhill Cranes take flight! I had the fortune to follow these guys on their migratory path in 2017.  I first saw them in Michigan and then later in southern Arizona.  It wasn’t my intention to follow them, but there they were, and I was totally blessed with being able to experience them.

To Soar: The definition of soaring implies more than just flying.  It is to reach new heights!  To feel the wind below your wings!  Joy ! Exhilaration ! Beauty !

Give Yourself Permission

As I rose from my slumbers a couple of days ago, I began my usual prodding of myself. “What are you going to do today?”  “What will you accomplish?”

I think we’ve all been conditioned to get in this frame of mindlessness.  We have to do something “constructive” in order to feel like we have any self-worth.

But who is this “judge” sitting in the back of our minds and where do all of these self-created pressures come from?  Why do we have to “accomplish” something and what makes that something “constructive” or “meaningful?”

I decided to give myself permission to take the day off.

Not in the sense of doing nothing, although arguably, there is value in that too sometimes.  But I gave myself permission to get off my own back.  To kill that self-judging voice in the back of my head.

What happened?

Well, I spent a good part of the day reading, relaxing, enjoying the freedom I gave myself not to attach my entire worth as a person on completing some task.  And it felt like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

So, I carried this state of mind over into a second day.  I read, meditated, had coffee with my daughter, took a long hot bath, built a nice fire in the woodstove.  And I cranked up the music and danced around the living room 🙂

It was absolutely liberating.

You see, by giving myself permission to quit judging myself, I actually accomplished much more in terms of gaining some peace of mind.  Of freeing my spirit.  Of capturing some happiness.  Of living in the moment.

Happy Holidays to everyone and give yourself permission to be joyous and free!

Crank up the music and dance!

***

Photo:  Somewhere in Oregon.  Open and free.  Rolling grasses.  Azure blue lakes.  Snow-capped mountain peaks.  Weightless beauty.  Liberation.

No Word for Art

Montana with Monture Quote - Ctn Divide - Logan Pass

Photo:  At the Continental Divide in Montana.

**This was a little tougher to put together than I imaged.  I had narrowed it down to three possible pics of mine – all beautiful, but I ultimately decided on this one.  Since WP cannot format it larger, I’ll repeat the quote here:

It is not surprising that Native American languages have no word for art, because beauty exists as an element of nature and everyday existence.  The very fiber of life begins with an understanding of natural gifts, an appreciation of the irrepressible forces of nature, creation, and expression.

Joel Monture – Mohawk

Journey

Who knew what a journey a chance meeting would spur.  And perhaps it’s still only beginning.

It wasn’t long ago that I was forced into early retirement.  So I gave myself a couple of years to find a new home.  I wanted a fresh start.  A clean slate.  A new beginning where I had no personal history.  No evil employers.  No ex-wives.  No pain of remembrance.

I was very methodical.  I searched locations, climates, recreation, proximity to my bucket list of national parks, housing markets, and state and federal tax implications.  Yes, believe it or not, if you move to a state other than the one paying your pension, you can be double taxed on your same income.

It was a lot to consider.

And I finally hit upon an area where I thought could pull all of those factors together.  So, I contacted various realtors, complied a list of properties on the market, jumped on a plane and spent a week touring homes and the surrounding area.

It was an area sort of familiar to me.  I had been there 40 years earlier when I was a young pup bumming around the country and living in my car and out in the wilderness.  Of course, the once sleepy little city had grown.  And I discovered I didn’t like the housing prospects.  It didn’t feel like home.

But while I was there, I would make a connection.  A beautiful soul that burned bright.  A golden flame.

A chance meeting in a chance location.  A moment in time, but at that moment it was time to fly that 1400 miles back home.

Conversations ensued, and she told me of an amazing world not that far from those first explorations.  I traveled again and found that magical oasis.  But I couldn’t stay.  At least not at this juncture in time.

This has been the beginning of a new chapter in life.  That meeting brought me out from behind the barriers I had surrounded myself with.  Broken down the walls of despair.  Set me on a new path.

A journey to recapture the heart and spirit of life.  Who knows where it may lead?

***

Photo: I took this photo of these lonely railroad tracks out in a remote area in the Southwest.  I was playing with it in the photo editor and suddenly it came to life.  What made this image possible was dust.  There were high winds that day sweeping dust across the desert floor and scattering into the atmosphere.  That added a blur factor you can see at the base of the distant mountains.  It also added a medium to refract light adding varying hues to the sky and clouds.  A slight enhancement turned a drab photo into art.  A friend described it as looking like an Albert Bierstadt painting.

And that photo’s story parallels my journey.  A chance number of elements came together to produce a never-seen-before beauty.  And the image itself is one of travel across great distances.  Who knows where these tracks may lead?  Where that train might take us?

 

Frog Pond Magic

A while back, while hiking, I stumbled upon a small frog pond.  It was early afternoon and the angle of the sun, lighting, and nature itself came together in a very magical way.

There was an electric green moss growing in that crystal clear pond and the surface of the water reflected the surrounding trees.  The sky was a magnificent deep hue of blue.  As you can see, I captured several shots with my cell phone camera.

I visited this pond several times thereafter and the conditions for these images never repeated themselves.  Amazing, even the same places, events, and times can never be experienced twice the same 🙂

 

 

Frog Pond Magic 1

***

Not-Doing

I had just finished putting the finishing touches to an article I was writing.  Word choice, tempo, spacing.  It all felt good.  I glanced over at the clock and it was a little past noon.  Noon!!  Holy crap!  How did it get to be noon?  The last time I looked at the clock it was around 8:30. What had happened to the time?

I had been totally immersed in my writing.  So much so that I don’t even have a memory of the words being formulated in my brain.  They had just flowed onto the paper.  More like being channeled from an exterior source.  Me just being the conduit.

At that moment, I knew that whatever I had gotten down on paper was going to be good.  And when I go back and re-read pieces like this, it feels like I’m reading them for the first time.

I call that frame of mind “being in the zone.”

That place where the task is pure task.  It’s taken on a life of its own.  Independent from my rational machinations.  It’s sort of like highway hypnosis.  Where you find yourself arriving at your destination but you have no recall of driving the last 20 miles.  Somehow you got there.  And you managed not to get in an accident.  Autopilot.

Being in the zone is something that can’t be forced.  I can’t sit down and consciously tell my mind to get into that space in order to produce.  It just seems to happen spontaneously.  Especially when I don’t try to make it happen.

Another example might be when we consciously try to remember something.  Whatever the event or person or detail it is that has momentarily escaped our grasp, if we actively try to recall it, force it into our consciousness, we can’t.  But once we stop that forced effort, or have moved onto somethings else, the detail immediately pops into mind.*

I actually used to enjoy my commute to and from work when I was practicing law.  Why?  Because I let my mind drift during this time.  Tuned out.  Disengaged from my work.  And it was when I disengaged that my mind worked best.  Suddenly that legal theory or a key element of what I was needing to complete some analysis just magically appeared.  I used to carry a pen and paper, and then later a voice recorder, so I could be sure and get it down.  Because if I kept on drifting, that momentary flash would be gone and difficult to recall, once again.

Just what’s going on here?  What is this phenomena of the mind?  Or is it a state of being?

I remember, without effort :-), when I was a teenager and I first encountered the works of Carlos Castaneda.   Castaneda became pretty famous for writing a series of books about time he had supposedly spent in the Sonoran Desert with a Yaqui Indian sorcerer.  Castaneda, an anthropologist, had met this gentleman while he was working on his PH.D. and exploring the cultural uses of hallucinogenic plants.  He found himself an apprentice to this mystical realm.

Throughout his writings, Castaneda talks about various ways or techniques to “see” the world as it really is.  His books were considered pretty controversial and there is some criticism, that may be valid, as to whether Castaneda just made the whole thing up.

Or, it could be arguable that the Yaqui Indian was used as the face or metaphor for presenting Far Eastern philosophy.  Whether you want to call this mysticism, or nagualism,  or brujoism or anything else, I think there are still some valuable lessons to be learned from these writings.

One of those concepts was that of “not-doing.”  As explained by the sorcerer, “doing” is the way we construct the world.   So a rock is a rock because of how we apply our knowledge of a rock to the rock – doing.  To really see what a rock is, to see its essence, we must observe it without “doing” or by “not-doing.”  This may sound a bit obscure or esoteric.  And I think the way Castaneda presented it was designed to keep it as such.  To retain a mystical quality.

In another way, this is a form of meditation.  Of clearing the mind.  Ceasing the internal dialog, which has now been coined “self-talk.”  And “stopping the World.”  You have to see the rock, or more importantly the whole Universe, without all of the blinders and descriptors that have been programed into our heads.   And once we learn to stop the World, everything flows and reveals its true nature.

And it’s not just a manner of observing the Universe, it is a way of acting, without intention, as we navigate the Universe.

It was later in my life that I came upon the Tao Te Ching.  And again, arguably, Castaneda may very well have stolen this concept from the Tao.  Except that the translation of the Tao better describes it.

In the Tao, the term is “Wei Wu Wei” or “doing not-doing.”  Other interpretations are “without action” or “without control” or “without effort” or “action without action” or “effortless doing.”  Another is “diminishing will.”  And the notion is that non-action, or unwillful action, is the purest form of action because the doer has vanished completely into the deed.  “. . . the fuel has been completely transformed into flame.”

If one surrenders to the Tao (the Way) they will align in perfect harmony with Nature, with the way things really are.  They will have mastered Nature, not conquered it, by becoming one with it.

One of the underlying concepts here is trust.  We must trust the intelligence of the Universe, continually acting effortlessly and without conscious will, knowing it will be the right action.  “The game plays the game; the poem writes the poem; we can’t tell the dancer from the dance.”

In my case, the story wrote the story.

And when that happens is when I discover that the words truly resonate with other readers.  I, or maybe better said, the Universe by channeling though me, has stuck a universal cord.  I’d call that magic 🙂 And I know, because I feel it, that many of you experience this same phenomenon and we share a common bond.

To all my blogging friends out there that don’t always know where the words come from, but we feel them in our hearts, I’ll leave you with some more words from the Tao:

Therefore, the Master

acts without doing anything

and teaches without saying anything.

Things arise and she lets them come;

things disappear and she lets them go.

She has but doesn’t possess,

acts but doesn’t expect.

When her work is done, she forgets it.

That is why it lasts forever.

***

* I’ve read that functional MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET (positron emission tomography) scanning have confirmed that different parts of our brain light up when we try to force memories to the surface.  And they’re not the regions in the brain where we store information.  We can’t force memories, they just rise on their own 🙂

Photo: The dragonfly represents the power of light.  They inhabit two realms of the Universe, water and air, and the stages of their lives are just as dramatic of a transition as that of the butterfly.  From a water-dwelling nymph to airborne dragon.

As light strikes their wings at various times of the sun’s circle, they can refract vast differences in color and hue.  So like life, things may never quite be the way they appear, but it is still full of beautiful color and light.  The dragonfly as a totem is said to help one see through illusions and provide new vision – a good symbol for the concept of not-doing so that one may see the true essence of the Universe.

I took this shot along a lake in Az.  I shot different pictures of these same dragonflies throughout the day, and indeed they all look different.  I enhanced the color of the feature pic a bit and faded out the background revealing an incredibly vibrant transformation.  And here is another shot – same type of Dragonfly, but different angle in the sun.  What a difference.  Can we see their true essence?

Dragon Fly 1+SPFx2+c1+MC52