Once in awhile, I take a photograph that makes me feel as if I have accidentally intruded on someone's private thoughts. But perhaps this time... it is he, who found himself in the midst of mine. It is and will forever be, my favorite movie of all time. James Garner passed away this week, and this is just my way of paying tribute to what I consider to be one of his finest roles. Godspeed, dear man.
It's beautiful what you did.
There is a scene at the end of the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty where Walter asks Sean who is sitting on top of a mountain waiting for a chance to get just one shot of a beautiful snow leopard in the wild... when he's gonna take the shot. He responds...
I have thought of that one scene maybe more than any other scene from a movie in a really long time. I knew I had a shot of a snow leopard in my library and I went looking for it today, lingering over it for some time. How often do I just accept things, without conviction of the heart? How many other things in my life am I doing or allowing simply because they are easy, convenient, or entertaining... accepting when I should be questioning?
For me, these days... those are some pretty important questions and as I stared at this photograph, I think I realized it's time for me to figure out how I alone.. would answer them.
Writers don't often talk about how much we like when you interact on our posts... fearing it will seem too needy and vulnerable, I suppose. But isn't that the point of sharing? To reach out to the universe and say... Here I am, I have something to say. Please hear me and respond? Otherwise, I could be simply writing in my journal, closing it up, putting it in my nightstand and calling it a day. I value your comments and interaction so much. Those of you who take the time, are a treasure to me as a public writer. Some of you have taken to sending private messages rather than commenting publicly and that's ok too. You know how deeply I understand that, after the events of the past year and a half of my life. (For those of you new to my website, for a large part of 2013, we dealt with the aftermath of an online hacker who disrupted our personal and financial lives and my emotional life for the better part of a year). I can't tell you how many times I have sat right here at my computer where I do the bulk of my work, smiling at your humor, leaning into your tenderness, listening to your incredibly intelligent thoughts, accepting your best advice, looking at your beautiful photographs, reading your encouraging notes, and sometimes...depending on your massively strong shoulders. There are some of you who have journeyed with me more than five years now. I have laughed, cried and bled with you and that emotional support is beyond priceless to me.
Opening up my heart and mind, along with my art out into the cyber world opens the door to some measure of risk and criticism too. But it is a risk I am still willing to take, albeit these days on a much smaller and quieter scale that works best for me. (I read this week somewhere that it is best to put your own oxygen mask on first before attempting to help others with theirs. Truth!) I believe we change each other just by bumping up against each other and you can't really do that unless you put yourself out there, right? I am constantly amazed by the shades of beauty I see in all of you.. whether you are communicating with me publicly or choosing to reach out through more private channels. So often I sit here at this computer and listen to your hearts that spill out through your pictures and words and think wow.. I never really thought of it that way... It doesn't really matter if you're an artist who has 25,000 followers or one who has 50. You share bits and pieces of your own lives with me that make me smile, shed tears, and feel connected, whether you have a big online presence or a small one. That is such a beautiful, beautiful thing for which I will never find adequate words of appreciation. I benefit so much from recognizing the value in our different perspectives.
Most of you know by now that I am a photographer and writer who loves all things artistic. Those pursuits require long hours of shooting with repetitive motion using heavy camera equipment and then even longer hours editing at the computer. Toward the end of 2012, I began to struggle with some deeper health issues after decades of crappy eating habits (arthritis and the pre stages of type 2 diabetes). All of that crashed down on me in early 2013, manifesting as chronic pain, weight gain, and pretty serious depression I had trouble admitting even to myself. Cap that off with surgery and a long hard winter and my body, mind and spirit were at an all time low, yet I was still trying to operate my online life as if everything was fine and it was business as usual. After a particularly painful falling out with a friend and potential business partner, I withdrew from nearly everything and everyone that had previously given me joy and closed in on myself for quite awhile. I didn't recognize it at the time, but it was probably my "rock bottom." At some point I realized that I had two choices... drown... or swim like hell for all I was worth. It didn't happen overnight, by any means, but I started small.. treading water until I finally made up my mind to swim.
Though we are all so different from each other ... deliciously different, I think we can find comfort and commonality simply by walking with each other for awhile and listening. We can't always do that in person but we can surely do that via whatever channels work best for us. This little corner, is mine for now... and I am so grateful for those of you who regularly tune in and interact with me. That has come to mean a whole lot to me. I've felt the sting of both judgement and criticism in the past, but I learned that so often, the things that bother me most in others... are the areas where I most need work myself.
So often I think we feel change isn't real change unless it is massive and moves mountains. But I loved this quote so much and it has been my mantra for many months now. "Commit to the daily pressure that compels infinitesimal progress over time." When you're 20, you feel invincible. When you're approaching 50 and beyond, you begin to recognize that your physical, mental and spiritual health require long term commitment and is something to be protected and nurtured, if you want to continue to live an active, loving, purpose driven, abundantly joy filled life. My health is bound pretty tightly to my creativity and I am making infinitesimal progress over time. Thank you, for spending some of your valuable time here with me.
It has definitely been a year of re-examination and of challenging everything I've ever been taught in school, in church and in books and in dismissing what insults my soul. And it continues to be my prayer that beyond my words, the silent lines are the ones that speak the loudest.
Until I visited Wai‘anapanapa Beach, I never considered that heaven might be painted black.:)
It's all in the details. Truly. We are all tasked...to make them worthy.
I think maybe I'll dispense with the usual Independence Day post this morning. While I do enjoy fireworks, barbecues and the patriotic waving of our American flag, there will be plenty of time for that later this afternoon. Right now, I prefer to reflect on something sweet and simple.
Every July these little beauties start popping out all over the place, blooming prolifically beside spiky hot pink thistle flowers and elegant Queen Anne's Lace by the side of the road. I never have to go far to find them. Their bright blue colors wink cheerfully at me if I'm walking and blur into a multicolored watercolor painting with the wildflowers who keep their company if I'm driving on by. I have found them alongside our busiest highways, and I've found them nestled quietly amid the wild grasses up at the lake. I stopped yesterday to pick a stem... loathe to do it, as experience has taught me that the clock starts ticking the minute I make that choice. It will not last the hour.. so time is of the essence. More will grow in its place, but it seems somehow sad, that plucking it from its home shortens its lifespan so dramatically. Still, I do not relish getting run over by a car on the highway, so in the battle between head and heart, the head wins this time.
I photograph them carefully from several angles, because for me... a flower image is only worth sharing if you can somehow capture a bit of its soul. I was thinking as I spent time with this one yesterday, that she had a lot to say. From one angle she looked as if she was dancing. From another, weeping. I found her reaching skyward, as though being drenched in the sun drew from her mouth, the loveliest song... and bringing her inside, somehow froze that moment forever. Through it all, she maintained her softness... right until the very end, when she closed up each petal and bid me goodbye.
Hans Christian Andersen said, "Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower." On this Independence Day, I am so thankful to be basking in all three.