For me, this is a time of imminent loss. One of my longest-standing, dearest friends is fighting for his life. Now, he is the proverbial tough old bird and if anyone can beat these particular odds it will be this guy. But for the foreseeable future, the next text or phone call could bring terrible news.
As I scrap this or that “important” plan in order to spend a few minutes clunking around his hospital room or assisting his family in some small way, I’m re-reminded of the few things that matter to me.
1) My loved ones.
3) Getting my head into the present tense so I can appreciate what is happening while it is happening. Such as walking on the bluffs by the ocean and… catching paragliders taking their turns at launch… or witnessing brilliantly graceful pelicans come in for their awkward landings, right next to harbor seals who lounge unperturbed:
And, oh yeah,
4) My health.
When I was younger, I knew these things, too. But when I was younger, I more often lost touch with truth.
I’m so grateful I got to get old and I look forward to figuring more stuff out. While remembering the stuff I already figured out.
(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge was “lines”.)
Accidents of erosion.
That’s how my first geology teacher explained the surface of our world. He was talking narrowly, as scientists do, about seeing the history of the earth in its current landforms.
Landforms like this shoreline cliff and creek bed:
The phrase stuck with me. It covers so much. All the stuff I used to try to understand, that no one really can. Why why why I took the jobs I did, moved the places I went, lost these loved ones, saw those illnesses recur, effortlessly vaulted to success here, bashed my head against failure’s wall there. How it came to be so important for me to try to understand.
When I look at my life geologically, I see that things fall apart, and they form again in new ways, and what it looks like, well, it just depends – like erosion – on the weather.
What’s that the Buddhists say? You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just weather. (- Pema Chodron, maybe quoting somebody else).
Recently I moved, to be closer to the ocean. The move surprised people, including me. (More about that at some point.) My new neighborhood has spectacular views of the beauty of erosion. I especially love the trees, in varying stages of change.
This one I call Nessie:
Jurassic predator tree:
The alien and the protector of the cliff (you get to decide which is which):
(The WordPress weekly photo challenge was Waiting.)
There is so much beauty in modern infrastructure. No wonder I take so many pictures of that stuff.
Admittedly, I’m obsessed with subways. I could fill a whole other blog with subway photos and videos. (<– Hmm. Am I the only one who thinks that’s a good idea?) Meanwhile, here’s a recent moody image from NYC:
This power line runs through my neighborhood (although not precisely at this angle):
Can you guess what this is?:
It’s the crumbling (sideways) letters of a storm drain warning. NO DUMPING DRAINS TO OCEAN.
And how about this?:
Well, if you’ve been a reader of this blog for long, that’s an easy one to answer. It’s part of a pair of decaying sea walls that fascinate me. (Fascination is a kinder word than obsession.) Here’s a wider shot of the same wall (earlier that same sunrise):
If you ever want to visit this wall, it is just east of East Beach in Santa Barbara, CA.
(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge was Abstract.)
I know I’m not alone with this dilemma: the more photographs I take, the harder it is to enjoy the moment. That camera-phone stuck to my face – that oh! good shot! scrutiny – blocks my senses.
But if I’ve got photographs, I can re-live (a weak yet satisfying imitation of) that moment. Without photographs, all I’d remember would be the beach with the pier is nice at sunset:
By the time I uploaded my photos, I’d forgotten how the surf distorted the pier’s reflection:
Nowadays, I’m really trying to live in the moment, so as I continued my walk, I pocketed my phone. Then unpocketed it. Many times.
Capturing a pelican on camera marks a different kind of living in the moment:
One of the great things about the beach is how quickly everything changes. Every moment really does last a moment. Here’s what happened to the sunset when the fog got just a bit thicker:
One solution to photographing my moments away might be to keep going back to the beach. I don’t need photo memories of stuff I do and see all the time – do I? Hmm. My photo library draws a different conclusion:
My cats and my granddaughter. I’m lucky enough to see both all the time. Yet the photo library keeps growing in both categories… Thank goodness for the digital photo era.
(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge was Broken.)
Don’t tell my daughter about these photos. Every time I go to my favorite beach in Santa Barbara, I take pictures. She thinks I should stop. She’s right, I do have uncountably vast numbers of photos of the same half mile stretch. But nothing is static there, not even the eroding sea wall I’ve shot a bizillion times. On this trip, I discovered a piece of kelp tangled on the wall:
Things got interesting when I moved to the other side of the wall. Sunlight shining through and around the sea vegetable converted it to a fairy tale:
Now I saw a cascade of jewels, or maybe a despondent princess, silhouetted in the window of a castle tower.
I know a scientist who makes music on the side. He has a single CD that he keeps reissuing with new and revised songs. I’ve teased him about this but I’m doing a version of the same thing, aren’t I? A single beach, reissues of new and revised views.
My daughter is wise, but I will continue to defy her. Sure I’ve got lots of images with this sea wall – but with every visit it’s a new wall. Certainly, there’s never been a princess there before!
Anyway, it’s not like I’m wasting film. Which makes me uncomfortable, realizing that younger readers may not know what film is.
(The Weekly Photo Challenge topic is Refraction.)
By the time I got to the beach, the flowers had already started to shed petals into the sea. I don’t know what went down before I arrived, but a lovely bouquet in the surf can’t be a good sign.
Too bold on the first date?
Thanks for the birthday flowers, shame my birthday was last week?
Flowers can’t buy forgiveness, you @#$%^?
Graduation celebration run amuck?
What do you think happened?
(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge is Signs.)
Everything weathers or wears or frays, each according to its materials. It is such a commonplace process yet produces so many extraordinary results, including the intricate silhouettes of mountain ranges and beach sand that massages your feet as you walk.
I am especially fond of rust, provided it is not my stuff that is doing the rusting. A stairway in the U. Colorado, Boulder, athletic stadium is doing the rusting here. The pooled water is surely causing yet more rust, plus an artful reflection of a railing that was boring in real life:
Nearby, the stairs come with cartoon faces (I promised myself I wouldn’t mention beings from other dimensions again):
And these stairs suggest star nebula images from the Hubble telescope (if you ignore the yellow non-skid tape):
Out in West Hollywood, CA, I’m pretty sure this brand new sidewalk tree root cover is not supposed to be rusting already, but I’m glad that it is!:
This rusting sea wall in Santa Barbara, CA, looks very much like my daughter’s knee after a horrendous scrape, but let’s not talk about that and I will resist the urge to post a comparison photo:
Here is the sea wall with a little more context:
In the low-slung light just before sunset, even a rust hater would have to enjoy this view of the same sea wall:
The WP Weekly Photo Challenge is Fray.