Thursday, June 4, 2009


I've been dealing with Vertigo (and it does deserve a capital V) for almost two weeks now. It hit me on Saturday May 23, and I have not been the same. I can't drive, can't work in the multi-tasking polychronic way we all have to today, and I have to focus on one thing at a time. That's the gift. There's a lot going on in our life, and maybe the only way to deal with it is one thing at a time and my body, brain and the universe is not giving me a choice.

This photo sums up the experience perfectly. Before posting it, I had to figure out if the orientation was correct. Which way was up? The way you see it here is correct according to how I took it. If you look in the upper left corner, you can see gray asphalt. That's our driveway. This is one of my favorite plants growing around our home. It's a clematis vine that grows on a trellis outside the window of our back breezeway into the kitchen. To take the photo, I was standing on my back steps, leaning around the corner on my toes so that I could be above the flower and get a closeup that shows the gorgeous color that is so spectacular. In real life it's more spectacular if you experience the whole thing, but in a photo you have to look differently. If you don't believe me, think of sunsets, a spectacular sunset in person is a life-changing moment that proves there is a God, but a photo of the same thing (depending on the photographer) can be a cliche'.

Anyway, as I looked through all of the photos I took that day of the vine, this one spoke to me the loudest. And yet, there's that gray in the upper corner. When I saw it, it oriented me but made me dizzy. Look at it again. I wonder if it makes other people dizzy? T
he way the leaves are growing is actually confusing It seems like it should be rotated, but no matter how you rotate it, they don't look quite right. They seem to be growing up in this photo, they should be hanging in a way that makes sense with gravity. They should hang down slightly. They don't in any orientation because this photo was taken from a perspective that was unusual and unstable. Yet it's so clear and crisp that you don't get the possibility of falling, so I find the effect disorienting. You are looking down at a climbing vine from a height of about 8 feet (my height plus the steps, plus stretching) not something you normally do, and that's why if you focus on the upper left corner and the driveway, it's a little disconcerting.

I love that about the photo. It illustrates that taking a close focus on something from a unique perspective can be beautiful but personally disorienting. No one that's with me can tell that I feel like I'm on a boat and have to use about 20% of my energy to stabilize myself. It's exhausting so I have to lay down once in awhile to rest. Also, I can't think about multiple issues at once. So I'm really looking at each thing I do in a way I haven't before, and some of the issues in my life have no answers. If they had solutions, we would have solved them already. This way though, I'm seeing there isn't a solution, just a plan for proceeding and getting to the next stage.

Again, this clematis is a good metaphor. It's at least a 20-year old plant (it was here before we moved in 16 years ago, I transplanted it to its current location where it flourishes.) And the spectacular blooms grow on the old vines. I am not sure how to prune it without ruining the plant. So I train it rather than cut it. I've had people tell me to take out some of the dead vine, but I'm close enough to that plant to see that sometimes what you think is dead is connected at one end to growth. That's what you learn from looking closesly at things in the range you can focus on from the perspective that holds beauty for you.

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