Wednesday’s Word: Destruction


In my efforts to start back on a blogging schedule and search the vast corners of the earth for more words that move me, I am going to start a Wednesday Word.

I will post a word, quote, phrase or who knows what else that moves me, inspires me, enrages me or more. I may comment on it. Or perhaps I will not. Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic too.

So here goes, the Wednesday Word is: Destruction

Recently, I started a military leadership class. It involves a great deal of reading, and then, some more reading. There are lessons on leadership, tactics, strategic thinking and history. Surprisingly, the history lessons seem to be interesting me the most.

I find this odd as I have never really been a history buff. However, as I age, I have come to discover it is not as boring as I had once believed.

I think it started with some historical fiction books by Phillipa Gregory that I read a couple of years ago. I read an entire series on a few kings and queens of England. Of course, I realize the stories are fiction but they intrigued me enough to start seeing what main events were reported to be true that the author had based her stories around. It became quite fascinating…and scandalous.

Time progressed, and I started watching some documentaries and historical fiction television shows. I started looking up even more events. As I found out more, I started to wonder if it was just human nature to destroy things, including themselves.

Then, I started this military class, and according to historical records, humans seem pretty hellbent on destroying others and things. Dating back to the B.C. era, people of all races, religions and cultures have sought power, righteousness or money. To get it, history has shown they will stop nothing. One of my history books stated that one group of people were  extremely “successful” in terms of military tactics. Well, that is if you consider mass murders of entire cities as success.

”’the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, both young and old, and ox and sheep and ass with the edge of the sword.”   — The Cambridge History of Warfare pg 16 as it states the familiar Biblical account of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho.

Think about our history. Brothers have tried to kill their own family members for the crown. The Germans tried to obliterate the Jews. Bosnia suffered ethnic cleansing, as other countries did as well. It goes on and on.

Generation after generation, somewhere in the world there has been, and continues to be, a batch of evil doers set on destruction for reasons of greed, religion or power.

On the other hand, when we are not trying to kill others, us humans are pretty good at destroying ourselves. Our tools of destruction may be less noticeable than genocide or war, but they obtain results on a smaller scale nonetheless.

Individually, we destroy ourselves through poor eating and exercising habits; smoking, drinking or injecting a multitude of drugs, alcohol or chemicals known to be bad for us. We stress ourselves out to the point of immobility and inaction. We doubt ourselves so much we create a self fulfilling prophecy of unmet goals.

As I learn more, I am shocked that all this destruction. To my knowledge, there doesn’t appear to be any race, religion, culture or ethnic group who has not had some historical event with evil, destruction or war. (To those who are indeed perfect since the dawning of time, I apologize. ) It seems to have effected us all at one point, and continues to plague the world even today.

Today’s world is full of anger, bigotry, sexism, racism, judgement…We are divided on politics. We argue about the use of bathrooms. We try to ban people from serving their countries based on their personal life. We are more upset when people take a knee during the anthem than we are when we are told outright national-level lies. We refuse to acknowledge scientific facts, trends and similarities to history. We are emboldened to push our personal agendas on each other in this me-first era.

Frankly, it is all mental exhausting. I don’t pretend know the answers. I only know the questions and attempt to see all the viewpoints. In most things, I can understand and empathize the various points of view. So I don’t have a dang clue on how to solve the world’s problems. Heck, I can’t even solve my  own I-need-to-lose-15-pounds problem.

But hey, according to history, after we all destroy each other and ourselves, there will be another several generations behind us to relive all the same or similar issues (with some minor adjustments for the change in times). Well, there should be anyway providing we don’t create any population- or world-ending kind of problems…we just might be doomed this time.

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My random thoughts on history and how we seem to repeat it, but with even more flair.

The act of life


 “Why do we make gardens? The act seems so extravagant, so illogical. Don’t we have enough hard work in our lives already? Are we looking for more?

Why on earth do we bother?

It takes a kind of courage. You have to learn to cherish. You have to dare, to take the risk, to bother, to care.

To make a garden, you have to be able to love and to see yourself as capable of nurturing.

It takes patience, too. If the garden is to thrive you must commit yourself to it for years, for the creation of a garden takes place over time. Like a child, a garden has needs that have to be met, whether we feel like it or not, day after day.
You have to have confidence. You have to take charge and be responsible. You have to act upon the garden.

And you have to let it act upon you. Because it will act upon you. And will knit you together with the rest of the world. It will not let you stand apart.
The challenge is hard, but it is irresistible. To get dirty, to get involved. To act and be acted upon. That is life. If we stop accepting that challenge, we stop living.”

~Simone Martel, Expectant Gardener ~

Life is never simple and situations are not always yes or no. It is always more complex and layered. Many times, there is a maybe or it depends to consider. Even once all the facts are laid out, it is still rarely a black or white answer or solution. Think of nearly any situation and topic in life, and you will find shades of gray.

Whether the issue is politics, health or gardening, you will find a variety of opinions and view points. With each person believing their view point is in the right, I am amazed that we can make progress. At times, we spend so much time fighting and arguing, that I think we waste time. We are so focused on being right or pointing fingers, that we miss the opportunities to really address the problems. It’s like we can only see black or white, and ignore the all shades of gray.

As I was deciding what to write to accompany my garden photos, I found the above Simone Martel quote on gardening. Her last few lines about life and gardening caught my attention.

“…And you have to let it act upon you. Because it will act upon you. And will knit you together with the rest of the world. It will not let you stand apart. The challenge is hard, but it is irresistible. To get dirty, to get involved. To act and be acted upon. That is life. If we stop accepting that challenge, we stop living.”

It made me think about all the craziness in the world today. It made me think about my own garden. It made me realize, life includes many shades of gray.

Let me explain.

Whenever there is a problem, whatever it may be, it is like a weed in the garden. We have to pluck it out. We have to destroy it. We have to abolish it. We do that and think, problem solved. Then, the weed comes back. And sometimes, with even more force in numbers.

We get frustrated. We want to burn the whole dang garden down and rip out all the plants. We want to start from scratch all over or just give up. This is the world acting upon us. It is life. Sometimes it is good. Other times it is bad, really bad.

Regardless, we cannot stop though. For when we do, like Martel said, we stop living. Life will never be perfect. (I dream and wish it could be though.) No matter what, there will always be weeds. There will always be that one jerk (ore more). There will always be something going wrong.

That doesn’t me we quit gardening/living, and hide from the world’s problems. Our job as humans, is to figure out how to react. How can we make the situation better? How can we help? How do we solve the problems, at least in our part of the world. Those answers are never easy though. And like I said earlier, they are rarely black or white. It is in those shades of gray where we find answers though. It is in those shades of gray where we find compromise.

When we get down on the ground with our trowels, we may discover why and where the weeds come from. If we pluck out the weed and not the root or the conditions causing the weeds to grow, the weeds will come back. Over and over, we will fight the same weeds. Only when we work on the conditions, will we stop the problems.

And like a garden, only when we give it attention, time, love and nutrients, will our gardens grow.

The problem is…not all of know how to garden (or want to learn), especially when it includes shades of gray.

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Black & White

 

 

 

Discover what you look for


My boyfriend teases me that when he gives me flowers, he will just wait until they are already dead. He says that since I seem to photograph several of his bouquets, even when they are past their blooms and drying.

I cannot decide if my interest in decaying flowers is more a focus on finding beauty in things that some may overlook or more from my philosophy on life: you will discover what you seek.

I say that with a grain of reality of course. I know people don’t seek to be abused, disabled or oppressed. With those extremes aside, I think people are capable of creating, discovering or changing their lives.

All of us are given a place in the world. Whether those places or circumstances are equal or fair can be debated. However, debating that is really pointless. For none of us can change the past. We don’t get to decide our parents, our race, our sex or anything at birth or in our childhood for that matter.

Once we are old enough to think for ourselves though, we can make changes (on most things anyway). We can decide how to act, what to do, when to change. We alone have the power over our emotions and voices. We can choose who we want to be. Sure, it may not be easy. If we decide to be an athlete, we need to train and eat right. If we decide to become a lawyer, we need to study and study more. If we decide to become a spiritual leader, we need to align our actions with our words. Heck, we can even change our sex these days with surgery, therapy and hormones.

None of that is easy though. Life is hard. Success is even harder. To be successful, we must work not only hard, but smart and efficiently. We need to gather the tools required for success in whatever field we have chosen. We can’t just expect the world to give us what we want, especially when we don’t deserve it or work for it. Yet, I see this all the time. People want fame, money and love yet they don’t want to put the effort required to have those things.

This entitled expectation reminds me of a Tom Krause quote.

~

“Flowers don’t bloom where no seeds have been planted.

If you want kindness, be kind.

If you want acceptance, be accepting.

If you want encouragement, be encouraging.

If you want forgiveness, be forgiving.

If you want love, be loving.

If you want respect, be respectful.

We should not expect from others what we fail to give to them.”

Tom Krause

~

Krause’s quote is profound to me. It makes sense. Essentially, it is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done onto you. And regardless of your religion, there seems to be a golden rule in them all.

rule

So if you can create a better world for yourself through dreams, goal setting and hard work, I figured you can create a worse world just as well. I’ve witnessed people worry, fight, and fret over every detail in their life. They have a negative outlook. They are always the victim. They are always defeated. The world is against them…or so it seems. As I have aged, I have wondered, what makes one person overcome a horrible situation while it defeats another? Or why does one person with all the elements of success at their fingertips still fail?

I am sure there are several factors as no two situations or people are alike. However, I feel like one factor is themselves. They chose to be defeated or motivated by their setbacks. They wallow in pity or pull themselves up. They retreat into a safe circle or they venture out into risk. Essentially, I think their actions, attitudes and behaviors can play a huge role in what happens to them in life. My own included.

For example, I dated a guy for a while who later told me he was walking on eggshells because he was afraid I would break up with him. He feared that he would do something wrong, and I would leave. He didn’t express this fear outright, but the relationship felt strained and difficult. His tension made me tense. His insecurity made me feel guilty…of nothing and everything. I couldn’t put my finger on the problem, but just felt like there was something missing. I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t happy. So we ended it. In hindsight, I feel like his fears put certain actions into place that created a tension that lead exactly to what he feared – our relationship ending.

Another example is a friend of mine who has always had bad luck with men. I sympathized with her for I too had this same luck. We both seemed to always pick the bad guys. Yet, we were the one constant element in all the relationships. So naturally, we must be the problem then, right? Through my own growth and experience, I tried to help her. Maybe we were not necessarily the problem, but we were creating it in some ways. By thinking we were jaded, insignificant or broken, we were unintentionally attracting, or accepting, less than worthy men. And those men we chose, used our insecurities to their advantage. They would control all the situations and conversations. We let them have all the power. And on a rare occasion where we vied for the power or challenged theirs, problems occurred…or in some cases, violence would the result. Again, I am not saying my friend was at fault for her abuse. No, that fault lies with the abuser and the abuser alone. But, I think she plays a role into the situations she finds herself in. She would always say, I can never make a relationship work, I am meant to be alone, I always pick the wrong guys. I wondered, is this like a self-fulfilling prophecy? I also wondered this about my own experiences…

self-fulfilling prophecy – “Any positive or negative expectation about circumstances, events, or people that may affect a person’s behavior toward them in a manner that causes those expectations to be fulfilled.”

With age and experience, came wisdom, painful yet good wisdom. I had to pull myself up from defeat. I had to look for the lessons in the bad. I had to lay out my dreams into goals and those goals into steps. I had to decide, do I want to feel sorry for myself or do I want change? I chose change and it has been empowering. I chose to find me again. It was not easy and is still not easy, but I see more beauty in the world than ever before. The world has not dramatically changed though. It was me who changed. But now, I don’t see ugly dead flowers. Now, I see transformation and beauty. I just needed to change my perspective and look for it.

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Editing and Processing.

Photo note: The photo was taken with my Canon Camera actually. However, I did edit the photo on my iPhone in the LiveCollage app. It is the same picture edited in two different collage formats. I was trying to do a montage but could not figure out how to do that in the app.

 

Macro to More


“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

~ Elliott Erwitt~

While I was deciding on what to post today, I did a random search for macro photography quotes. As I scrolled through some various quotes, one stuck with me. The quote above from Elliott Erwitt is my photography mantra basically. When I am walking around, I see pictures. I literally have to force myself to keep moving at times or I will stop and stare at things, and if my camera is around, take 5 or 100 photos.

I think about the perspectives and watch the light. I look closely to see the wonder that a passerby may miss in their frantic pace of life. Of course, I can’t do this all the time. I do have a job to do and bills to pay. But, even in the midst of day-to-day life, I notice the world and think, “That would make a great picture.”

Anyway, as I thought about Erwitt’s quote, I realized,  I honestly had no idea who the man was. So I did some internet research. Hhhmmmm. This is the photographer who shot the famous Marilyn Monroe subway vent shots!

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According to Wikipedia, “Erwitt is an advertising and documentary photographer known for his black and white candid shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings.” He also served two years in the Army as a photographer’s assistant.

There is a lot more to say about the man of course, but I hate to repeat what others have already stated to so well. So check out some of these links if you want to know more:

Fellow WordPress blogger – BWGallerist

Dirk De Graaf on Pintrest

Wikipedia

American Photo Magazine

Overall, a very interesting mini research project on some history in the world of photography. I would have to say, I never thought this is where my thoughts would go for my macro post on some flowers from my yard.

I suppose that is what is fun about opening our eyes to world. For when we look a little deeper at things, we not only discover beauty, but we sometimes find mystery, wonder, inspiration, details and history that just could effect us in some way. Maybe we will learn something, shift our perspective or find some solace. Regardless, the closer we look at things, the more we really see them.

Where will your camera take you? And what will you find if you look a little deeper?

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Macro.

Blooming out of Decay


Should haves, could haves and meant to dos

Leave you with regrets and feeling blue.

If you look too long at the past gone by,

You will sit and wonder, and perhaps even cry.

 

Your past is just that. It has passed you and gone.

You can spend your present wondering, what went wrong?

But you can’t change what you cannot undo.

And if you could… would you still be you?

 

For you are built from your bad, as well as your good.

The lessons you learned were well understood.

You formed yourself through the dark and the gloom.

And through all that, you’ve become, a beautiful bloom.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Macro.

I decided to go with the macro mushroom shot a couple of days ago. However, I stared at the pictures, not knowing what to write. Today, within 5 minutes, this poem came out so I went with it.

For me, it speaks on how so many of us feel trapped in our past, our pain and our history. It’s hard to move out of that, but you can. That’s the great thing. We can rediscover and reshape ourselves a little each day. And like the mushrooms growing on the rotting tree in the forest, we can have purpose and beauty. I hope that whoever needs to hear this today does. I feel like it poured out of me for a reason…perhaps I needed to hear it myself.

and, since it fits…

For the theme of the Daily Post’s Challenge ~ Survival.