Remnants of Some Time Now Past

Once upon a time,
on a day now lost to memory,
except, perhaps, to the one
who first stood in this place
with hammer in hand,
there was someone
who found this tree
and decided to find out
what adventures awaited
up among the branches.

So with a pocket full of nails,
a few scraps of wood, 
and a hammer,
this young dreamer 
(weren’t we all young once?)
began to form a ladder of sorts
up into the sky.

Who can imagine
where such a pathway once led, 
and how many times
it was used?

What I know
is that a mark was left.
At least a remnant of that adventure
remains.

I hope the steps
that carried the dreamer on from here
led to a life filled with awe and wonder.

As for me, I’m grateful
to have caught at least a glimpse
of that now long forgotten time.
And my hope for myself
is the same as for that dreamer
from long ago – 
a life filled with awe and wonder.
I believe that is always true.
All that is required
is for me to show up
and pay attention. 

Being Swept Off Your Feet…

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” 

– Frodo Baggins (Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien)

I do a lot of hiking these days. And sometimes I find myself walking further than I ever dreamed possible. Here in Boulder the Mesa Trail runs along the base of the Flatirons. From the South Mesa Trailhead to Chautauqua is about 6 1/2 miles. A couple of weeks ago I hiked that amazing trail from one end to the other, and back again. And somewhere along the way Frodo’s quote popped into my head. I regularly feel like I’m being “swept off” on some grand adventure. 

Today I took a quick walk on the trail near our house, and discovered the early signs that spring is finally arriving. Splashes of color are beginning to appear. And that’s where today’s adventure began. It was a journey into the land of creativity. The formula for such a journey goes something like this:

Show Up – Pay Attention – Be Playful – Go Where The Spirit (Muse, Creativity, Great Mystery) Leads You.

First came the photograph –

Then came the playing with the photograph (using the Tangled app) –

Then came the playing with the results of the Tangled playfulness – 

When I snapped the original photo I could not have known where it would lead me. The only way to gain such knowledge is to allow the adventure to unfold and sweep me off to wherever it might take me. I don’t always remember to stay open to such a process, but when I do the results are never disappointing. I have an amazing life and I am grateful for the gift. I invite you to allow yourself to be swept off on some grand adventure. As Bilbo reminds us, there’s no knowing where you might end up, but I’m quite certain you won’t be disappointed.

Remembering the Bigger Picture

The Summer Day 
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

– Mary Oliver

I’ve been struggling with some challenging personal news in the last couple of days, and in the midst of the roller coaster ride going on inside my brain this poem came to mind. It speaks to me about paying attention and being present. This life is filled with so much “good” news and “bad” news, and at both ends of that spectrum there is only so much I can do about it. What I can do is show up and be present to what is. I can feel what I feel, but it doesn’t help anyone when I get stuck there. Whatever particular thing is going on in my life in any given moment, as real and important and impactful as it might be, there is always more to the story than that. When I allow myself to be open to all of it (or at least as much of the full spectrum as I can manage) then I am more capable of bringing the fullness of who I am to the situations where I can make a difference, which mostly means showing up and allowing the light of Love to shine in me and through me. “Tell me, what else should I have done?” I suspect I will be working on this right up to the moment I take my last breath, but this is what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life!

A Vaster Space

When we come upon beautiful things,
they act like small tears in the surface of the world
that pull us through to some vaster space.

– Elaine Scarry

This quote gives voice to what I try to express with my photography. Large or small, vibrant or subtle, I see beauty in the world and it lights me up. I catch glimpses of that “vaster space” and I want to share it. It is my conviction that when we allow ourselves to be truly touched by the beauty which surrounds us our world expands and our connections (with ourselves, each other, and all that is) become deeper and richer and more transformational.

For some reason this quote seems connected to one of my favorite Rumi poems.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

(translations by Coleman Barks)

Experiencing beauty offers us a path to that field where we can lie down together and share the magic and the wonder of being alive and being human.