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Entries in flower (19)


A Truce

At some point, you just get tired of being your own worst enemy and you lay down your arms.

I wonder why so much of my territory is preoccupied with guilt or shame.  Envy.  Fear.  Internal insurgents lob highly sophisticated rockets of self-criticism, as though let-me-think-of-all-my-shortcomings-before-you-do creates a kind of missile defense against the outside world.  It shields me every night while I lay down with the enemy.

It's time to surrender.

Not the white-flag, but the olive branch.  A treaty of delirious possibility.  The conditions of the agreement are non-technical and involve things like vegetables, sleep, blank paper, yellow running shoes, tenderness.  In order to embrace an imperfect union I will stop building settlements in unfriendly outposts.  I will start again, with friendship, acceptance, and love.

Let no one think that the birth of man is to be felt without terror.  The transformations that await us cost everything in the way of courage and sacrifice.  Let no one be deluded that knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other. Centering is a severe and thrilling discipline, often acutely unpleasant. In my own efforts, I become weak, discouraged, exhausted, angry, frustrated, unhappy, and confused.  But someone within me is resolute, and I try again.  Within us lives a merciful being who helps us to our feet however many times we fail.

- M.C. Richards


Seeking the Void

I forgot how to read when I weaned Ezra.  One of the joys of that first year, as I remember it now, was the perching of novels on the arm of the chair just beyond the Boppy and devouring them one by one during marathon nursing sessions.  An unintended consequence of reclaiming my bodily autonomy was that my reading space shrunk down to so miniscule a spot that nothing longer than a blog post would fit there.  That, plus taking on my 365 photography project and starting this blog of my own, resulted in a couple of years now where I've essentially read nothing longer than three paragraphs.  There's only so much space in a life, after all.

But I am not fully nourished when I don't ingest well-constructed words, or when I spend too much time in my own and not enough time swimming around in others'.  My friend Marjorie recommended Cheryl Strayed's Wild a few weeks ago and I immediately went out and bought myself a copy.  Strayed tells the story of her solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in a time when she was broken and lost and needed to find herself.  A hiker she meets on the trail gives her a long black feather which she tucks into her pack.  She later encounters a woman who identifies it as a corvid feather, a "symbol of the void."  It sounds scary, but she describes it as "the place where things are born, where they begin."

The same day I encountered Mark Nepo's description of the void, the empty space of stillness, darkness, where perception is heightened and things are born: "Both the Buddhist and Zen traditions speak of an unbreakable emptiness at the heart of all seeing from which all things emerge.  The Hindu Upanishads tell us that in the center of the seed of the great nyagrodha tree there is nothing, and out of that nothing the great tree grows."

I am reminded of my long bad mood last winter and the feeling of claustrophobia so strong I couldn't breathe.  I am reminded of my efforts to hold just a little bit of space for myself, the place where a small sprout of hope took root.  I find myself drawn to the idea, not scared at all, of accessing that dark, quiet, protected place, observing it, and watching to see what grows.



254.365 50mm (+12mm mac tube) f2.8 1/200 ISO 100


Solstice (A Low Point)

253.365 50mm (+12mm mac tube) f2.8 1/320 ISO 100This was how the solstice was supposed to feel:  bright and round and happy.  When I got home from work my neighbor was clearing out her perennial bed to make room for Ezra and the other kids on the block to plant a pumpkin patch.  To me it sounds like a perfect way to spend the longest evening of the year.

But my almost-three-year-old torpedoed that plan.

Dinner triggered a meltdown so epic, so volcanic (I put his crackers ON THE WRONG PLATE, people!  And THE CHEESE!  I DON'T LIKE CHEESE!) that he ended up turning over lawn ornaments and wailing until he was blue.  For the first time in his life I actually understood the urge to beat one's child. 

Instead, I went inside and put myself in time out.  Meaning, I went to the kitchen to work on my dinner and poured myself a glass of wine.

So much of photography is waiting.  Waiting for the right light, waiting for inspiration to strike, waiting for the gift of seeing to surface.  And then there are moments of action, of attempting to arrange your world in accordance with your vision.

Excuse the tortured analogy, but parenting is like that sometimes too.  Waiting out this small wild animal in hopes that he will someday (soon) step into the soft light of emotional regulation and civilized behavior.  Trying to arrange him in accordance with my vision of the kind of person I want to raise.  And many, many days feeling defeated or uninspired but knowing it is the ultimate 365 (or is it a 365-million?) and that the big test is showing up.  Every.  Single.  Day.


A Fine Line

240.365 50mm (+36mm mac tube) f2.5 1/250 ISO 100