Monday, August 30, 2010


Here's a quote I came across today that kind of clarifies what resonated with me in the quote in my last post.

"Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold."
– Leo Tolstoy

So I thought of the "hiding" as actually a discretionary judgement of not dwelling on details that confuse the fundamental truth. Similarly the silhouette of this landscape against the sunset is really enough information to get the point and understand the "truth" of the moment perhaps better than a picture with distracting detail. Cropping with a discretionary eye washes away all that is not gold.

So hiding wasn't the point. The point is that life, if allowed to take its own course will reveal its beauty naturally the way it is supposed to. You just have to notice it. It's taken me a long time to have the faith that the world just works, even without me forcing it along. I didn't create this sunset, I just noticed it. And so I'm taking this lesson to mean that as my kids go off to college this year, I just have to notice them, not control them. Their spirits will shine the way they're supposed to because their innate talents are made to be seen.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paradox and Passion

To hide a passion totally (or even to hide, more simply, its excess) is inconceivable: not because the human subject is too weak, but because passion is in essence made to be seen: the hiding must be seen: I want you to know that I am hiding something from you, that is the active paradox I must resolve: at one and the same time it must be known and not known: I want you to know that I don't want to show my feelings: that is the message I address to the other.
--Roland Barthes

To_hide_a_passion_totally_or_even_to. (n.d.). Columbia World of Quotations. Retrieved August 25, 2010, from website:
I'm posting this quote to examine the paradox of living a life without resistance and a life of achievement. Effort, discipline, structure, and responsibilities seem more associated with deadlines and pressure than ease and grace. Can they exist simultaneously?

Passion may connect them. I see passion in nature as the force that manifests itself in infinite forms. That's what I felt in Florida where the photos here were taken.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


The Australian Pines in Florida are an evasive species. Here at Stump Pass the state has killed them so that the native environment won't be choked out. At first we thought there had been a fire. There's something eerily attractive about the shoreline with those black and white trunks. And in the photo above, we once again see a log, for a time, grounded in the water and providing a structure that attracts wildlife and provides a dramatic focal point.

The point is that the life is always there, the structure just supports it for a finite amount of time. Although the structure supports rather than defines, it is what attracts the attention and makes this photograph. That bird could be any Floridian bird, but this one is special because it's framed by the tree. The context, the structure defines this birds presence in one particular moment. The environment is part of it's existence and an even larger part of it's observance by me.

I mention this because I've been thinking about "dependency on form". Existence is not dependent on form, but communication of existence is. You have to be somewhere to be noticed. And the somewhere that you are is the starting place that others have to connect with you. So your environment, context, or form is transient, but not separate.

I think that Tolle's point is best taken then, as instruction to be conscious of the form you take at any given time. Forms that work are structures that support rather than dependencies that limit growth.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I haven't posted anything in a long time. Not just because it was an exceptionally busy summer with graduations, weddings, college preparations, vacations and the usual product launches and job deadlines, and other responsibilities, but partially because my inspirational lake log is really gone. The lake is still alive with all the life it had before, but that focal point was taken away in the excessive rain and flooding that we had. It's such a seemingly insignificant thing, that log, that it's really surprising that it mattered to me at all.

But the whole thing mattered, I spent almost exactly a year observing, photographing, writing and just plain enjoying the variety of life that log attracted. And this blog was inspired by and dependent on the specific condition of a log anchored in a lake.

Eckhart Tolle is a popular modern philosopher, and here's a quote that my friend John just sent me today about dependencies:

To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad. It seems almost paradoxical, yet when your inner dependency on form is gone, the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly. Things, people, or conditions that you thought you needed for your happiness now come to you with no struggle or effort on your part, and you are free to enjoy and appreciate them - while they last. All those things, of course, will still pass away, cycles will come and go, but with dependency gone there is no fear of loss anymore. Life flows with ease.

--Eckhart Tolle

It really is amazing how messages converge on you from a variety of sources. My mother and I always discuss how the universe literally smacks you in the head with something until you get it. So, in addition to John sending me the Tolle quote that life can be better when you free yourself of dependencies, my friend Clare put the same challenge to me. Different words, same idea, but with a homework assignment (she's a gifted teacher)--walk away from some things and note what happens by writing every day.

That's the background to my next few posts.

It's peaceful to just stay open to moments as they occur. It's not something I practice though. (My family will attest to that should anyone care to ask.) However, I believe I can give it a shot, and I will consciously do so for this next week. The photo I'm posting here is from our family vacation in Florida last week. My parents have a house we all use and this is the backyard at sunset on our last day. All four of us were so much more able to enjoy this after a week of vacation 'freedom'. To me it represents what Tolle said about things you think you need coming "to you with no struggle or effort on your part, and you are free to enjoy and appreciate them - while they last."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Textures in Time

I like the textures in this photo of the trees in the distance, the ice, the water and the reeds at the edge. It's a photo that you cannot go back and experience again. You may find something similar, you may take the essence of what you saw and felt and find it in other places, but the ice is now melted, that swan has swum on, and the reeds are starting to bloom. So here's my last post of the winter, presented as an homage to the textural opportunities of our physical world.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Time 03.07.10

An earlier blog--Time 12.06.09--is the last dated photo I have of the log that I've been blogging about for a year. The lake is very high due to extraordinary rain, and so there's a slight chance that it's still there and covered by water, but I think that it's most likely gone. I believe it dislodged and broke in to pieces that I've seen at the water's edge. (One is shown above.)
This was a busy winter in many, many ways, and so I did not photograph the cold and heavy snows at the lake. I'm sorry that I did not stick to my practice because I can't do it next winter, time has moved on, and it's not the same. I don't have photos of the lake completely frozen, but trust me it was for a much longer time than usual. However, here's a photo of the ice as the edges melted. Note a piece of log in the foreground, and the way the gulls use the ice as a float to gather on.

Snow Dunes 02.16.10

There's something about snow at the edge of the water and on the dunes that feels intimate and intriguing. My husband and I went to Atlantic City in February to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. Tom and I grew up vacationing at the Jersey shore and we've taken our family there for all these years. But in the winter, the comfortable familiarity of a place you know is changed up by the elements.

That's where some of the intimacy comes from--the juxtaposition of the familiar and the new. There's a 'getting to know you' aspect of an off-season visit that reveals some of the challenges and vulnerabilities that are masked by the high vitality and drama of the regular season show.

The snow is a reminder that Atlantic City is after all a seaside resort that must weather the storms.

Between Rain and Ice 01.24.10

Rain and snow made the lake a mystical moist home for the swans and the flora and fauna of the lake. I kept wondering where the turtles go at these times. They don't migrate. They hibernate in their shells I suppose.

The gray mist has a delicate loveliness. I wonder if the swans miss the sun and warmth, or if they are equally at home between the rain and the ice.

Time 12.06.09

I've had this photo on my computer desktop and large monitor at work all winter. I love the colors the blue and the brown. It's a fashionable, sophisticated color combination at this time for clothing and interiors, and I hadn't really thought about that until now. I just like it. The colors are peaceful and the scene is quiet. There's nothing apparently extraordinary about this photo, yet the snow and contrasting shadows and the way there is still grass and some green poking through the icy white embed this scene firmly in one moment in time.

Taken on December 6, 2010 it may be one of the last times we'll see that familiar log in the lake. We've had a harsh winter, lots of snow, then lots of rain, and then lots of flooding. This was one of the early snowfalls (maybe the first, I can't remember.) We did not know what was coming. Time is like that. Infinity and expansiveness created from finite moments and specific details.

Easter Sunrise at the Lake

I was away from my blog for the entire winter. I was not however, away from the lake, or away from taking photographs. So on this gorgeous Easter morning, I'm going to sit here and catch up on the winter and post some photos.

However--blogs are about the present and so first, I'd like to note that we went to Easter Sunday Mass at the edge of the lake at sunrise this morning and it was engaging. My daughter, my husband and I and many of our close friends and about 500 other people were there. Though that sounds like a crowd, it was very intimate, and we didn't have to get to church 45 min early to get a seat and the whole mass was about 30 min, and we walked there watching the moon in the morning and walked home watching the sunrise over the lake.

Happy Easter!