Author Archive

giving notice

In this modern time of super-productivity, super-connectivity, overstimulation, and over-saturation, we can easily slack off on the art of noticing.

I was recently given a thin piece of plastic called a “viewfinder” with the suggestion that I use it for a contemplation exercise. The assignment is simple: Hold the viewfinder up to absolutely anything (even a blank wall) and take time to notice what you see within its tiny rectangle. By letting the larger view go so as to focus upon the smaller perspective, a whole detailed world opens up.

Someone told me once that an ancient definition of human is “one who notices.” Perhaps we modern humans need encouragement to do more noticing? So, to the modern humans out there (myself included), consider yourself encouraged.

a lion of a perspective

“Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter.”
– African proverb

This quote, these words, are quite profound.

I consider something to be profound when there’s an understanding of a simple meaning that breaks through into a greater meaning.

What these words remind me of is that every being has its own unique perspective. To the caterpillar I picked up this morning, I am a life-threatening monster. To my 5 year-old niece, I am a strong loving presence whose arms she can jump into. The caterpillar and the child would describe me (the same me) in completely different ways.

Applying this concept to my understanding of historical events, to the media I consume, to the stories I tell myself about the world, to the way in which I listen to another human being… I become aware of perspective, of framing, of context.

The lion will never learn to write. But I can do my darnedest to understand her perspective, even when I only have access to the hunter’s version of things.

How many perspectives do you choose to see?

that worthwhile step

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”
– Amelia Earhart

Adventure to Amelia Earhart was a flight across an ocean. But, truly, an adventure need not be so grand! Sometimes an adventure can simply be taking a different route to the office or trying out a new recipe or learning to swim at age 65.

This squirrel’s adventure is walking across a high narrow fence. What’s yours?

wild wallflowers

“It takes as much time to build walls sturdy enough for wallflowers like you and me to lean against as it does for us to bloom.”
– Ayokunle Falomo

I’ve never been called a wallflower before, because I’m quite lively in social settings. But I definitely have some wallflower in me. It’s the part of me that likes to go places by myself and quietly observe. It’s the part of me that likes to be anonymous in public. It’s the part of me that is preparing to participate in life in some way without feeling ready yet. It’s the part of me that is self-protective.

The older I get, the less time I spend being a wallflower. Perhaps it’s because I’m ready to be seen.

The flowers in the photo are jutting out of a rocky cliff wall. They grew out of cracks, and their stems curve up toward the sky. They are wild wallflowers that bloomed.

How about that?

wishing on a little moon

“Most of the dandelions had changed from suns into moons.”
– Vladimir Nabokov

This year on my birthday, I didn’t have cake. But I did blow out a single candle that was sticking out of a chocolate-drizzled coconut macaroon. (Better than cake!) And, of course, I made a wish on that candle.

The candle-blowing wish-making opportunity reliably comes along once a year. It’s the other opportunities that are more haphazard, so it’s good to keep a look-out for them.

People make wishes on the night’s first star, on an outlier eyelash, on four-leaf clovers, and on dandelions. The dandelions are the most special because, at certain times of year, they are so very plentiful. And because, when you make a wish and blow, you get to see your wish explode out into the world.

Have you made a wish lately?

new eyes on a palm

“I suddenly realized I was in California. Warm, palmy air – air you can kiss – and palms.”
– Jack Kerouac

When I first visited California, I found the site of palm trees to be hilarious. They looked so goofy to me, like pretend trees in a Dr. Seuss book. But now, having lived in CA for a year and a half, I’ve gotten rather attached to them… these tall, strong, confident, exotic trees. The goofiness has simply gone away.

Perhaps it was when I mistook them for giraffes that I gleaned this new perspective. Giraffes, to me, are not at all goofy. They are tall, strong, confident, and exotic… the words I now use to describe the palms.

Funny how we can shift a perspective so easily and just when we least expect it.

What are you seeing with new eyes these days?

new wave

It occurred to me, on the very afternoon I took this photo, that I have never in my life been on a sailboat.

It also occurred to me that I must remedy that.

What new experience is calling to you?

fig tree patience

“Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can get really restless in the winter. There’s the fresh start of a new year in January followed by the fresh start of a new age in February (my birth month). And fresh starts get me fired up! Even though, damn it, it’s wintertime… so things are slow and forming underground and I can’t see them yet.

But then I ponder this tree and know, without a doubt, that the summer bounty of figs will arrive at just the right time. And that it’ll be worth the wait.

How’s your wintertime patience?

the art of gambling

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run”
– Kenny Rogers

Sometimes people gamble money, and sometimes people gamble time. Artists do both.

The vast majority of artists passionately do their work with very little pay for years and years and years. In hopes that, one day, “it’ll pay off”. But no matter if they walk away or if they run, if they hold ‘em or if they fold ‘em, how marvelous that they put their chips in at all! Our society celebrates the successful, the famous, the wealthy, and the winners. I’m opting to celebrate all those who were / are gutsy enough to sit at the table and play the artist game.

Have you ever gambled?

deflation

The phrase “a penny for your thoughts” has apparently been around for five hundred years. Surely a penny was worth much more back then. So are thoughts now worth much less? In this day of tweets and comments and texts, perhaps so. But I do believe that some thoughts have incredible value. And since the world needs all the good ideas now, shout ‘em out! Even if it doesn’t earn you as much as a penny.