Whether it is Trumpeter Swans or the other wildlife I photograph, or the many exquisite beauties of the botanical world, or landscapes, I have noticed that there is one constant to most of my images, especially my personal favorites. And it is the one thing that is said most often to me by other people who see my photos...."There is just something about how you capture light."
There has been a lot of revealing light that has visited Julie and I this year helping us both understand better some darkness that has been a traveling companion in our lives for many many years. One of the things that has dawned on me this year is that my photography is an outcome of this darkness. It has emerged out of the darkest 10 years of our lives. This has made me a seeker of light in ways I never had been before. And the light I have found. And it sustains me and is an ever present eternal warm embrace.
And these words from Thích Nhất Hạnh are about as close to truth as anything I have ever heard before.
“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
I don't just love Japanese Gardens for their esthetics. There has been something more at work here in me over the past decade....it is much deeper than just liking a style of garden design.....it is more connected to being a better human....a way of understanding better...a pathway to compassion...and more.
These things have always been important throughout human history. And sadly too often ignored. In our time it is no different....it remains so important and too often ignored.
Naomi Shihab Nye touches on it here.
BILL MOYERS: You write in here about what it means to be half and half, where love means you breath in two countries. Help me to understand that.
NAOMI SHIHAB NYE: Well I think whenever you love something or somebody it means that you have to extend yourself, you have to grow-- get a little larger. You can't stay in your little comfortable-- spot. So you have-- it's a challenge it's a risk, and-- whether it's loving another culture far away that suddenly has been represented by an act of violence-- or whether it's loving another person-- and that always involves you know all kinds of growing-- we're challenged. And so every time you care about something or somebody that relates to a different place in the world, then you're empathy grows. And for example, for all Americans who have friends from Iraq, I'm sure that things that have been going on-- they're thinking about it not only in political terms, but in human terms. You know what will that mean for their friend's families, or what will that mean for all the children of Iraq? You know during the Gulf War I remember two little third grade girls saying to me-- after I read them some poems by writers in Iraq-- "You know we never thought about there being children in Iraq before." And I thought, "Well those poems did their job, because now they'll think about everything a little bit differently." They'll feel closer to that place in a different way
Sunday, November 08, 2015
Learn to see the beauty that surrounds you in a new and imaginative way, and allow it to teach you a new way of being in the world.
All the things we need so desperately to retrieve, so often turn out to be the things so many write off as being naive. So people continue to neglect things like love, and beauty, and mind boggling generosity, and actually being peace and creating peace themselves, and instead continue to follow ways of thinking and doing that never have the ability to change them, help others to change, and in turn, change the world in some positive way.
I love the opening to John O'Donohue's book BEAUTY...The Invisible Embrace.
"These times are riven with anxiety and uncertainty, given the current global crisis. In the hearts of people some natural ease has been broken. It is astounding how this has reached deep into the heart. Our trust in the future has lost its innocence. We know now that anything can happen, from one minute to the next. The traditional structures of shelter are shaking, their foundations revealed to be no longer stone but sand. We are suddenly thrown back on ourselves. Politics, religion, economics and the situation of family and community, all have become abruptly unsure. At first, it sounds completely naive to suggest that now might be the time to invoke and awaken beauty. Yet this is exactly the claim that this book explores. Why? Because there is nowhere else to turn and we are desperate; furthermore, it is because we have so disastrously neglected the Beautiful that we now find ourselves in such terrible crisis.
In a sense, all the contemporary crisis can be reduced to a crisis about the nature of beauty. This perspective offers us new possibilities. In parched terrains new wells are to be discovered. When we address difficulty in terms of the call of beauty, new invitations come alive. Perhaps, for the first time, we gain a clear view of how much ugliness we endure and allow. The media generate relentless images of mediocrity and ugliness in talk-shows, tapestries of smothered language and frenetic gratification. The media are becoming the global mirror and these shows tend to enshrine the ugly as the normal standard. Beauty is mostly forgotten and made to seem naive and romantic. The blindness of property development creates rooms, buildings and suburbs which lack grace and mystery. Socially, this influences the atmosphere in the workplace, the schoolroom, the boardroom and the community. It also results in such degradation of the environment that we are turning more and more of our beautiful earth into a wasteland. Much of the stress and emptiness that haunts us can be traced back to our lack of attention to beauty. Internally, the mind becomes course and dull if it remains unvisited by images and thoughts which hold the radiance of beauty."
I no longer just see a Great Blue Heron anymore when I see a Great Blue Heron. I see more. And that holds true with everything I now see.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
If you get stuck on asking yourself if it is realistic or economically viable you will never begin. And as Walter Brueggemann suggests "we need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the royal consciousness (cultural mindset, conventional wisdom) that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought."
Walter is correct and is touching on something so important for us to face.
I had very little money to invest in this adventure I find myself caught up in today. And honestly, a photography business was not on the radar. In the beginning, this was therapy for me. And once I personally began getting healthier in mind, body, soul, and spirit I began to notice so many people around me struggling with feeling frustrated, stressed, trapped, and feeling powerless to change their lives as well as terribly unimaginative about it all....very much like Brueggemann described; shut down, locked into the royal consciousness, robbed of the ability and power to think an alternative thought. All of that left me wondering if there might be an imaginative way to share what I was finding so healing to where it might bring others along with me on this journey of reframing our lives in this world. That was all. There was no thought at the time of selling photos and starting a business. I just had this idea that if this was helping me so much, maybe it could assist others as well.
If I had looked at our economic situation at the time and allowed it to dictate to me what I could do and what I couldn't do, I would not have ever begun. And I had no one with deep pockets knocking on my door or calling wanting to invest in this idea. I was on my own, with basically no resources. But I just felt compelled/called to walk through the door that was opening before me in my imagination. So little by little I began. Some moments the choices I made felt risky. But the financial ones were also small enough ( they had to be ) to where I would always find the courage to take the risk. Today I am still approaching this very unlike any business model I am aware of and am having to do it with very little to invest. With some of the things that are now happening with the the larger scale sales, some of that reality will begin to change a little. There are investments I still need to make in order to take this to the next level, but I will have to do it like I have done it from the beginning...a little at a time. Some of those investments still feel so out of reach. But one of the beautiful things about the imagination being set free from the royal consciousness is that I can now imagine it. I can have an alternative thought about it all, in a healthy way, because I can now do it free of specifics as far as expectations and free of any settled plan or idea that I then would have to work to make happen. I am basically just riding a wave that began to form....unforced.
Another big change that was set in motion several years ago was the healing of the fragmented way of living that leaves most people with one half of their life they hate/despise/dread...the work/career part....and then the other part, their life away from work/career. And so many seem to despise both parts. That is really sad and tragic. I began to distance myself from this common approach that creates that dichotomy . And something wonderful and very healthy feeling began to happen....none of what I do anymore feels like work. I no longer look at it as career or business or profession (in the traditional sense at least) and I doubt I could find any career adviser or financial planner who would endorse my approach to it all. But guess what? I don't care. Today I know that the royal consciousness is sick.
All of life, every part of it now feels like vocation. Calling. And very ordinary. Not extraordinary. And for myself that calling is Beauty, and the most important thing for me to learn and to live attentive to, or at least hope to live out in some authentic way, is to participate with that Beauty in the creation of more beauty, in all that I do in every part of my life, that hopefully others can in some way use for their own healing.
So, if you are feeling stuck and unimaginative and powerless to change, you might want to ask yourself the very question Walter Brueggemann asked. And then spend some serious time with it and to do it long enough....as long as it takes, until you cross that threshold into something more real and more free and more healthy.
And even though I mentioned I have had to do this on my own, that is not completely accurate. I was speaking of something very specific when I said that in the original post. There has been a community that has invested in me and this adventure in huge ways in encouragement and promoting the photography and they are so responsible for most of where all of this has gone. And that is my clients.....the community of friends who come to the studio regularly.
So a big Thank You goes out to them. I try to make that gratitude apparent every moment of every day in the studio.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Don't be afraid if a time comes when you begin to be freed of the limiting notions you have grown up with, with regard to beliefs about God that now can no longer serve you in the journey into freedom. All of our naming and defining at one stage or another might be helpful in those earlier stages of experience and development yet later on only become limiting frames, inferior images, inadequate language.
The Divine is more like a mist....more like a wind....all wonderful no doubt...but indescribable when we are at our human best and most honest....and most trusting...whatever comes.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Money can give you access to a lot of things associated with pleasure.
But it can not put your mind at peace or lead your soul to a place where it enters its rest.
The most important journey turns out to be the shortest one.....and thank God it is free which makes it accessible for anyone who longs for it.