I tried to return to the wetlands today, but a insect pollen party blocked my path. I didn’t want to invade their gathering any further, so I lingered on the scene for a few moments and went back home.
I’ve heard that there is tension between time and creativity, and I wish I could give proper credit to the author of this notion: when you have lots of time, you have few ideas, but when you have no time, you are taunted by all kinds of ideas you’d explore if you had the time. Alas, I do not remember where I first heard or read about this truth of life.
Digital scrapbooking is a hobby I tried back when I had lots of time but little inspiration. I had a secondhand computer, a borrowed point-and-shoot camera and free scrapbooking software. My daughter and I would assemble digital pages with our pictures and free templates.
This is one of many things I wish I had the time to explore again. I wish I had the time to crochet afghans, knit hats, create collages, etc. Then I consider that this wish arises from pressure on my time. When I had more time, I spent lots of it wondering what to do and feeling guilty that I’d wasted it.
Beyond my backyard is a wetland preserve. While an El Niño summer rages into fall in the rest of my town, the wetlands show that growth is disintegrating on schedule. I have let my camera lie fallow for months, and I now I am surrendering to the urgency to document this season. Every fall I hope to capture the subtle changes until it all reaches a peak with frost-covered red leaves.
Capturing the wetlands in fall challenges me to value the small details of the natural world. If I overlook the glory of a lone grass flower or a long-brown thistle, what I hope do I have with a blazing sugar maple in October? The easy subjects yield better when you’ve taken time to illuminate the things that most regard with indifference: the ugly, the boring, the ignored. With a camera, you can discover that excitement and indifference say more about the viewer than the scene depicted. A rusted wheel can be as beautiful as the Grand Canyon. A withered patch of wetlands matters no less than an orchid in bloom.
My new phone autocorrected the word fart to dart. This new device has much to learn about me.
I can dart about as well I can drive a semi, and if you notice that anything or anyone darts in my writing, know that I was at a loss in choosing an action verb.
I play darts so badly that I could support a small drywall repair business if I made a regular habit of that game.
Life itself has lent me more expertise in farts and farting. I can’t imagine anyone being a better darter than farter. Farts are free from artifice and class. Rather, the attempt to conceal farts speaks of everything but farts themselves.
Can I delete the word dart from my phone’s user dictionary?
Trust me when I tell you that you need look no further than the mirror if you want to see a hero. You do inspire everyone who really knows you.
Thoreau’s claim that most of us lead lives of quiet desperation rings false to me. Every single person I have taken the time to know has either overcome great odds or achieved fantastic things. Some accomplished both, yet none seemed aware they inspire the people who know them.
I worked with a man who was raising two young daughters on his own. He was articulate, resourceful and witty. He spoke fondly of his kids but joked that as a father he lived with the daily threat of lice and MRSA coming home on the bus with his girls. I worked with him for months before he mentioned that he’d undergone more than ten surgeries for a cleft palate and lip, in the 1960’s, no less. He also needed special education to graduate from school. Looking at his life as a father and worker, I was astonished at how well he’d overcome that much adversity.
I know another man who patiently listens to the problems of others and tells few of them that he survived a broken neck in a car accident. Even when he listens to people talk about wrecks, he doesn’t mention it!
Tell your stories. Let others know what you’ve overcome. You may not think you’ve survived or accomplished much, but I’m sure that you have.
My hibiscus bush has rebloomed in full in time for the beginning of fall. This is such an oddball sight for northern Ohio this late in the season. Either I’m merely lucky, or I am witness to yet another sign that this planet really is warming up.
I dug out my 50mm lens for some of these pictures. I’m in the habit of taking multiple shots of the same object, and it seems that I end up wishing I’d brought along the 50mm only when I’ve left it at home. Since this bush is in my backyard, I was able to rectify this situation.
My 50mm is manual focus, and sometimes I accidentally focus on nothing. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Each of these flowers is about six inches in diameter. This year the bush grew taller than I am, with a dozen blooms on it daily during parts of July and August. I’m pleased it was able to make a comeback before frost settles in.
I am inclined to reflect on the past, and I have uncovered a benefit to looking backward: detecting bias. My recent post about Columbia House helped me identify another irrational preference. I considered how 70’s and 80’s magazine advertisements led me to imagine being grown up and smoking a particular luxury cigarette brand. When I looked at my car today, I realized that I had chosen a vehicle in the same color as that brand, Benson and Hedges Menthol. Thirty odd years after first seeing those cigarette ads and being awed by the luxury and minor hedonism shown in them, I still gravitate toward the color of that product.
When I picked out my car a couple years ago, I looked at its metallic sage green paint and thought it showed a bit of grace and indulgence against the chaos of this life. That’s the same thing I thought about Benson and Hedges Menthol back in the 70’s! I’d imagine smoking them on a penthouse balcony, safe from all the bustle on the city streets below.
That bias is fairly benign, setting aside that I did become a smoker. My taste for pale green did not lead me to exclude people or opportunities. When I painted rooms that color, I wasn’t letting that bias guide me at the ballot box, for instance.
Some biases can be self defeating, such as my presumption that I would be forever rotund. In the penthouse daydream of my youth, I’d picture myself as a semi-plump woman trying her best to look like Sheena Easton in pumps and a slimming black pant suit. I wore the self defeat of that I-will-always-be-fat bias every I went on many yo-yo diets. People have asked me how I memorized the calorie content of so many foods, and I tell them this information comes naturally to a person who has been on as many diets as Oprah has.
After I had surrendered completely to this problem, I had the lucky accident of delerium that showed me what I’d look like if I were a supermodel. This image of me without the extra weight busted that bias, and my weight was reasonable for the first time at age 40 (actually for the first time since I imagined that I’d grow up to be a heavy woman).
What you truly believe will come to pass. Once I reached the sometimes cold, hard reality of adulthood, I assumed that facing some adversity meant that I would always struggle. I would never prosper. Circumstance dared me to do better. I didn’t think I’d ever own a car that runs, let alone drive a CR-V the color of Benson and Hedges Menthol.
I’m also glad my youth gave me opportunities for biases that sweeten my perspective. When I was in grade school, I had a dear friend whose parents had a wall display full of political buttons of the past. The one I held most dear was the button that proclaimed, “Remember Harvey Milk.” I feel blessed that I learned about him when I was so young.
As the election approaches, I will take the time to learn more about the candidates, sniffing out what they really stand for as opposed to the biases they might be wearing to promote an empty brand image.