Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Space in Between

The pictures I took last night were about literally, seeing things in a different light. The moon was out, and standing at certain points on the bank you could see the reflection of the moon. Chasing the reflection to find the best one was an encompassing game for awhile. The one I posted here is my favorite because the moon and it's reflection are symmetrically positioned in the photo. That reveals the theme for this September evening's excursion and illustrates what I've been contemplating for the past couple of weeks. In the moon photo, the scene is in between the subject matter that caught my attention. The moon and the reflection are the highlights, but the lake makes the reflection possible. The highlights of life happen in context.

The next scene, the swans through the trees, really struck me as I was walking around. It might not come through perfectly here, but the swans framed by the trees at twilight were very different than the same scene during the day. I've noticed that view quite a few times and even taken some photos, but none ever quite worked well. This photo is all about context, the relationship between the colors, shapes and textures are what works for me. It's every thing together, there's not a clear focal point, but I think it's intriguing anyway. My takeaway inspiration is that in addition to sticking with practices that serve you (I was not going to stop last night, but I was following my own advice from my last post) make sure you note the possibilities that a different light brings to the same perspective. A different light doesn't change the context as much as a different perspective does, but sometimes, the ease of a more nuanced shift makes a more graceful transition to deeper understanding.

When you study communication, you learn that there are high-context and low-context cultures. High-context cultures are about the group. The group has a high level of common experience and so less words are necessary, because much of the meaning is implied. Low-context cultures require more explicit communication. Our northeastern American metropolitan culture is generally low context, and you can say generally that you'd find more high-context communication in eastern cultures. However, that's way too simplistic, because if you look at sub-groups as cultures (and you can) you find that they are everywhere. Your workplace likely has a high-context element that values in-group knowledge. Your family can be high-context, the more shared experience you have, the less you may have to express verbally to communicate. High- or low- contexts are neutral. One is not better than the other. It is helpful to communication though, to be aware of which style you use routinely, and assess if it's working for all involved. Switching styles, is like seeing things in a different light. Not too different, but maybe enough to gracefully move to more effective understanding.

My mother and I talk about this all the time. We are definitely low-context people. We'll say everything that we think about. We also have felt for some time that we need to watch it and just stop talking once in awhile. I've found that really useful. And so my high-context partner -- nature -- the peaceful lake that wouldn't hear me if I was talking anyway, has taught me the value of listening over time, and being aware of what's communicated between the lines.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Our everyday routines are the practice of life. And everywhere I've turned over the past week, I've received the message loud and clear that the small moments and day to day routines of life layer on top of each other like different pieces of artisan glass and when you look back through those layers they have a depth and beauty that is as important as any momentous occasion or achievement, and you see the shape and form of your life.

The practice of going to the lake for inspiration is one that I realize I have to stick with, even when I don't think I have the time, even when I think there's nothing notable there to see, I should go.
At this time, in this season, as I've mentioned for the last few posts, there is not striking beauty at the lake. I still love it though. And I am still always fascinated by something I find or see every time I go. The initial attraction to inspect the log and it's happenings was fun, but making a practice of visiting there over time I've learned things I would not have known just by driving by and stopping only when I felt like it.

There was road work being done on my usual route to work, and the lake was not on the detour route and so I fell out of the habit of stopping for inspiration for the day. The photo above was the first after all those weeks and it represents the contentment that the regular practice of observing nature can bring. Or maybe it's a reminder of the joy to be found in everyday activities.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Summer's End

I have been meaning to write about Pompton Day, but to be truthful, my pictures weren't that good. It's hard to capture that spirit in one photo. All along the lake there are booths and you can throw cream pies at people you know or dunk a teacher in a water tank or race a rubber duck off the dock. Mostly, you run into people you know and haven't seen for awhile, and for those of us who have raised our families here, there are a lot of memories. To me, summer ends on Pompton Day with our fair along the lake and our fireworks at night (they get better every year). So here, in tribute to the actual last day of summer are my photos from Pompton Day 09.

The dock above was inspired and partially paid for by an elementary school Earth Day project that my friend Theresa spearheaded. That might not be the same dock at this point, but I think about how it originally got there every time I see it. The plaque below commemorates the event and I had never noticed it until this Pompton Day, 9 years later. Memories run deep in this lake community, and so thank you to all the people who have improved that park over the years.

And finally, the last photo is not spectacular, but just the view of the back of the tents along the road from the lake. Goodbye to Summer!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Summer Moments

o just 'be' in the moment is something that a good number of people have come to value. I value it, and I try to live it everywhere, independent of situations or surroundings. But I find that the reality is there are some places, where you're known, where you're comfortable, where all your little imperfections don't matter, and really where all your much larger imperfections and regrets don't matter either, that not only permit you to just be, but actually remind you how to do it.