Posts Tagged ‘nature’

T as in….True

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to language lately—to the weight our words can carry. I’m enamored by words with nuances and multiple meanings; words that speak to much bigger ideas. True is such a simple little word, yet, as a directive for living our lives, it packs quite a punch. Truth seems to be a niggling problem for so many these days; lots of people getting into hot water over the absence of it in their lives. Among its meanings: ‘in accordance with fact or reality, accurate or exact, real, or rightly named’, and, in relation to construction, ‘in alignment, balanced, in correct position’. I expected the word ‘straight’ to apply; it doesn’t necessarily seem to, nor did the word ‘right’ ever come up—interesting. True also can mean loyal or faithful, as in a true friend. Another definition I recently came across is “something lived in the moment; an expression of the individual’s connection to the whole.” A person’s life can be true—undistorted, balanced. This will look different for each one of us. Seems we’re all working pretty hard at reconstructing‘trueing’ ourselves these days. For me, ‘trueing’ myself takes the form of spending time in nature, in the studio with my camera, on a yoga mat, on a cushion, reading and writing. At the end of the day, all are attempts to be true, to get at the truth, to get real. How about you?

What is…

So I’m sitting here in my morning room—the room I have my coffee, read, write, ponder as the sun rises before me each day. The view is filled with the foreground silhouette of a beautiful oak tree; always in silhouette until the sun is well above the horizon—sometimes  bluey-pinky-orange, sometimes  chalky-white, depending on the weather. I am thinking I am so sick of winter. I need it to be over. It’s raining–I find myself continually looking to see if the snow is melting, and it strikes me, how ridiculous this is. There may be another month of this! It’s like watching paint dry, or watching a pot boil, or obsessively checking my blackberry—same thing. It’s all a form of resistance to what is—wanting things to be other than what they are, which in my experience is the root of all suffering.

This is what I love about being in nature—it forces us to allow for what is, accept the cyclical nature of things, and find beauty in all of it.

Winter Zen

Undoubtedly it’s getting tough to find much beauty in winter any longer. The ‘bloom is off the rose’ as it were. We just want it to be over. Chances are, had I come across this little scene on my front porch today as opposed to a month ago I would have kicked the rock rather than seen the beauty in it. Winter does however offer a certain  stillness and quietude, unlike any other season. The Japanese term Wabi-Sabi came to mind when I happened upon this little scene. Wabi refers to a quality of austere and serene beauty expressing a mood of spiritual solitude. Sabi refers to a thing which may be withered, aged, patinated. The term is often used in the design world to connote things beautiful in their simplicity and somewhat imperfect. Seems like something we all should aspire to—inside and out.

Winter Beauty

Snowmaggedon, Snowicane, Snowpocalypse. The thing about being surrounded by nature is that no matter what the weather is doing, it’s all visually inspirational. My first winter here, so happy was I to be in the woods after years of being an urban-dweller, I would take long walks and marvel at the unexpected beauty of winter—the twist, the tangle, the sculptural aspect. I find winter more interesting, visually, than the other seasons—more mysteriously beautiful. There is more decay and entropy, all imperfection and abstraction. William Blake said “He who does not prefer form to color is a coward.” Although a bold statement, I tend to agree.

I’ve found it much easier to stay connected to my intuition while in such close proximity to the natural world, and the shifting seasons encourage and support the creative process, allowing for a balance between stillness and activity—incubation and productivity. “In nature, the emphasis is on what is, rather than what ought to be”—Huston Smith

A Very Happy New Year to all!

The upside of Chaos….

“The scientific term ‘chaos’ refers to an underlying interconnectedness that exists in apparently random events.  Chaos science focuses on hidden patterns, nuance, the ‘sensitivity’ of things, and the ‘rules’ for how the unpredictable leads to the new.  It is an attempt to understand the movements that create thunderstorms, raging rivers, hurricanes, jagged peaks, gnarled coastlines, and complex patterns of all sorts, from river deltas to nerves and blood vessels in our bodies.”  This, and the following, is from The Seven Life Lessons of Chaos by John Briggs and David Peat, one of the most illuminating books I’ve ever read in relation to creativity. Using nature as a metaphor for ourselves, it speaks to the need to embrace life’s constant state of flux. It’s about letting go, accepting limits, and celebrating the magic and the mystery. Chaos theory suggests that instead of resisting life’s uncertainties we should embrace them; this is where creativity enters.

“Krishnamurti argued that a deep creative appreciation of life comes only when there is enormous uncertainty…In each moment we have the opportunity to die psychologically by letting go of prejudices, mechanical habits, isolation, precious ego, images of self and world, and conceptions of past and future.  In this way we set in motion the possibility of a self-organizing perception that puts us in touch with the magic that gave us birth.”

Most of us cling so desperately to the need for certainty; lately this feels like a bit of a slippery slope. It takes a bit of mental effort to shift and be open to change, but there are real creative opportunities in doing so.

Can it all be right here?

“When someone seeks, it can easily happen that his eyes only see the thing he is seeking and that he is incapable of finding anything, incapable of taking anything in.” I recently came across this upon a re-reading of Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. It occurred to me that most of us are so busy looking ahead, looking for more of something or for things to be different in our lives that we are closed off to so much beauty and richness in our day to day lives. Our mental gaze is often elsewhere, and we are disconnected. The challenge seems to be striking a better balance between gazing outward, fulfilling our intentions, and seeing what is right in front of us, everyday. It’s a concentrated mind shift, a fresh pair of eyes, a conscious effort to be present, to take it all in, to really appreciate the ‘fullness’ of time and be open to opportunity, luck, grace, joy, wonder—all the magic. What would it feel like to move through just one day like this? What tickles you?

A Crack in the Cityscape…

The ability to see what is actually ‘out here’ with undistracted attention is one of the gifts of photography. It encourages a special kind of seeing apart from ordinary seeing, or merely ‘looking’. Frederick Franck states in his wonderful book The Zen of Seeing : “The purpose of ‘looking’ is to survive, cope and manipulate. This we are trained to do from our first day.  When, on the other hand, I SEE, suddenly I am all eyes, I forget this me, am liberated from it and dive into the reality that confronts me.” This beautiful little chunk of reality confronted me while walking the Highline in NYC one early autumn day.


“I quote others only the better to express myself” —Michel De Montaigne

….as will I, often, here. Jung states “The self calls the ego through nature”. I have found this to be so true….and fall is always a time of fresh starts and new beginnings….back to school, back to work. What are your new beginnings this season?

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