Mirage of life


As a writer and photographer, I feel like I see more than some people. Sometimes it is a little thing that a busy person would ignore. Other times, it is something magical created by my own imagination. Either way, I know of no other way to live.

Well, let me rephrase that. I KNOW how to live a hectic, busy life that makes you miss the small treasures in life. I also REMEMBER what it was like to not dream, hope or create. Neither of the lifeless outlooks appeal to me anymore. I am too tired to do that now; so I am consciously choosing to see the wonder and hope in the world.

I WANT to see the grace of a bird in flight. I NEED to feel the breeze on my skin. I YEARN for more mindfulness in my days. Our lives here on Earth are limited, and none of us know when that time will end. So I want to enjoy what I have left.

Yes, the world if full of hateful, angry, and stupid people. There are countless piles of red tape and minutia to get tangled up in. And, there can be drama in nearly every facet in life. I know people who thrive off this drama, this anger, this red tape. They spin in circles and weave webs of confusion. I just can’t do it….anymore.

Not that I am ignoring the ills of reality and living in a Pollyanna world, but I am TRYING to keep all of that stress and drama outside of my door to limit its impact on my life.  Sometimes, this is easier said than done of course. But when these times come, I try to give the problem a time limit.

I remember I watched some horror movie a few years back. I wish I could remember the name of it so that I could quote it properly, but I can’t. Regardless, in the movie there was a conversation that resonated with me. In the scene, there were two characters who were preparing to face some evil entity or power, and they were discussing fear. One of them told the other, they gave fear the power over them, but only for a few seconds. They would soak in the moment, the terror, the realization. But after addressing those feelings, they chose to act. They said something to the extent that the fear had to be felt because the situation was real. They had to process that emotion, but that feeling was also what fueled them into action.

This really stuck with me. It made sense. You can’t solve a problem if it immobilizes you. You also can’t solve it if you ignore it. This mentality has morphed into my life. I refuse to let problems paralyze me. I will find a way to solve them. And if I can’t solve them, I will find another way to change, cope or accommodate the situation that works for me. I also make a conscious choice on the battles I chose. Let’s face, not all things need to be addressed, at least by me. So I shuffle my priorities to acknowledge pressing issues as needed. They too, are given a time limit and perhaps, revisited later if needed.

This juggling of energy has allowed me to open my eyes to the world around me. It permits me to not get overwhelmed with the ugliness of the world. It reminds me of the good that is indeed out there. This daily awareness has brought me more joy and hope than I ever thought were possible. And let’s face it, the world could use a little bit more joy and hope on a daily basis.

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Note on the photo: the photo above is an iPhone shot I took of a bird flying over a pond in Florida. Just a simple shot that really wasn’t all that powerful due to the resolution and focus of trying to capture a bird in flight on camera.

But, I saw more. I saw grace and power and magic. So, I played around and created the montage in Pixlr by adding a border and an overlay. Then, poof – there is the magic I saw and felt as I watched this bird fly.

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge

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

 

 

 

Facts and memories ~ what you recall


Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving.

What you have caught on film is captured forever…

it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.

~ Aaron  Siskind ~

Our memories can be selective and based upon our perspective. Some details are easily forgotten while others cling to our minds. We relive feelings, both good and bad, as we recall a moment. And if we close our eyes – we can almost taste or see a particularly memorable event when thinking of it. Unfortunately, all those perceptions may not be the same as someone else.

This difference doesn’t necessarily mean one person is lying though. It just means they saw it a different way or at a another perspective.

I have said on many occasions, that if you have two people and one situation, you will have three stories. Each person will have their perspective of course, and somewhere in the middle generally lies the simple, unfiltered facts.

It makes sense when you think about it, and often, I think this difference is best described by comparing it to photography.

Take a look at the three iPhone macro photography shots of some peppers from my garden. Each picture is different. Yet, they are the same peppers. And I would bet, that if you gave these peppers to another photographer, they would capture yet another view. In fact, there are probably countless ways to photograph the same thing.

This factor makes life incredibly fun, and yet frustrating. From cooking to politics, people can find vast variety when looking at the same things. Some may find one idea/picture/song/etc motivating and uplifting while another finds the same boring and offensive. And then, there are probably even more views somewhere in the middle. Essentially, no one sees things the same way. As unique human beings, this should be expected though. We all think, feel, and love differently. Therefore, our perspectives will almost always vary.

The magic with photography (and several other mediums of art) is that our perspective is captured. Through our pictures, we freeze time. We paint a view of our feelings. We create a sense of texture.  We open a window to those who were not there. We invite a peek into our minds. That moment is now fact, forever, and we created it. It is no longer our perception alone, but the perception of all those who ssw our work. To me, that is empowering.

I can replace bland with beauty and boring with wonder. I can invite people to places that they would have likely ignored. I can spread magic into hearts that have grown tired. Overall, I can (hopefully) reveal just how amazing life and the world can still be, and make someone regain a little hope and motivation to continue. Because, maybe from their perspective, it just hasn’t looked that good.

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 For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Macro.

September is suicide prevention month in the Army, and I guess this was on my mind. Yet, I didn’t realize it until the last couple of paragraphs.

But that is the way my Thursday phoneography posts it seems. I pick a picture and just write and see where it takes me.

I hope this post finds whoever it is supposed to. May you find some comfort and know, you are not alone.

 

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.