Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Parents

Mother's Protection
I have been a lucky man in that I have known many amazing parents. Most of them are single moms, but some are dads and some are married moms. Regardless, the most sacrificial parents I know are always watching over their little ones even when they are not aware of the presence.

The love of children is one that takes from us. We empty our wells expecting nothing in return. We do need pockets of life that are ours so we can fill our cups, but this is about the protective love, the emptying that is done.

It is selfless, it is constant, and it is beautiful.

One of the most beautiful women I know, it is her most attractive aspect and it is from that center that all her beauty radiates.

This is is dedicated not only to her, but to every parent who loves in this manner and is beautiful because of it. It is also dedicated to all the little ones who have felt that love and grew in it.

I do know that not all of us got that love as children. If that is you, I am so sorry. But for this moment, join me in the gratitude of those that set a better standard and inspire us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Themes and Interests: The Water Falls

Yet Another Water Fall
This is my 4th waterfall that I have put on display and up for sale. My waterfall shots never sell and I keep doing them. I do not really care that they sell. I love waterfalls. It is a theme and an interest and something I find lovely. 

There are artists in many mediums I know that have some theme or interest that they pursue and it frustrates some of them that those pieces do not get featured or sell.

When I wrote my first book, I had a conversation with a friend who has written a few books and has helped others get published. He asked me one simple question. "Do you want to write the book with the story you want to tell or do you want to write a book that sells? Your passion will still be in the book that sells, but you will have to make some concessions. The book that sells is not for you, it is for them."

When I take photographs or work on a conceptual piece I decide what is for me and what is for the public. I take extra care in the setting on my camera when I shoot a waterfall. I take my time. I always take my time, but in this case, there is a little more care. This is for me. 

When I share a picture of a waterfall, I am sharing my interest and my passion and I do not care that it sells, this is for me to look at and enjoy the use of light and color and composition. Even the little bit of blur from an errant leaf in the left corner is for me. 

This is all right. There are some things that we do for ourselves regardless of us being an artist or a accountant or a stay at home parent. We need those corners with our personal themes and interests. If we share them, it is all right if others do not care as much about the subject as we do. We are who we are and we do not have to justify our heart's interest. 

Be you and enjoy your themes and interests. I am going to enjoy how the water falls at the waterfall. 





Monday, August 29, 2016

Matter of Trust and You Saved No One From Rabies

Matter of Trust
My son and a friend of mine and I went to Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago yesterday. While there, we packed a lunch in a picnic basket. At one point we stepped just outside the zoo to sit and dine. Almost an hour of our 4 hour visit at the zoo was spent with a very curious squirrel. He would come ever so close to us and then something like a dog would spook him and he would go up the tree and watch us.

He trusted us, particularly my friend, but not the rest of the world. He also did not trust quite enough to take the nut from her hand. Then, there came a moment that lasted for minutes. He gingerly approached and would inch closer and closer while she lay before him with the nut gently in her fingertips. Just when it looked like the moment would happen, a dad sent his son, wielding a stick, to run about and see our wild friend.

The squirrel, wisely, ran up the tree. The man looked at us and commented that he saved her from rabies.

Frankly, the bigger threat is human kind.

Regardless, she trusted the squirrel and he trusted enough to take the natural nut offerings, but they had to be left at his space and his comfort level to receive on his terms. She respected that and never violated his space, merely invited him to hers and accepted the relationship at his level.

People are often like the squirrel. We know there are dangers and we may have had experiences that make us question unconditional kindness. We all need to be respected at that level and when we encounter new people in our lives, we cannot coerce or force trust and we have to accept trust at their level. To do anything else is a violation and makes us as dangerous as the dog or the stick wielding child. Even if our intentions are good, we must understand others in the same manner my friend understood our woodland friend.

It is a matter of trust.

Sunday Silence (Belated): Social Graffiti

Socially Conscience Graffiti



*Special thanks to Giselle Marie Izquierdo for letting me know this happened.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Story Telling Saturday: On Community

Community is a word people use a lot. They are seeking community. We are tribal by nature and want to be among and belong. Sometimes we thrive in community and other times we are suppressed by it.

Many people I know have been hurt by a church community. They want to belong. Church's know this and some do what is called branding. Pretend the church is called Trendy. You will hear: "Good morning, Trendy and welcome to Trendy. We welcome you to Trendy and now give our Trendy campus a welcome."

This is branding. You also hear it in big box stores on the announcements. "Attention Wal-Store customers, we have specials in isle 8". Branding. The brand makes you a part of. Reward perks and social media on the store and small groups and social media on the church community. You are invited deeper.

Sometimes you belong and other times you only belong if you jump through the right hoops and are a good consumer of the goods as opposed to belonging solely because you are you.

This is not about church, this is about community.

I see people who get hurt by a community and the wounds are deep. So very deep.

They often, while still wounded, start their own communities. This is a dangerous time. It is like a rebound relationship. You know what community is NOT, and you want to belong, but you do not know what community is. You invite others into a space when you are not healthy and complete yet.

Community will enrich us and community will hurt us. We will hurt and be hurt. We will be enriched and we will enrich.

We are tribal creatures and often we are without a tribe.

Keep going, but try not to do any harm in the wake of the harm done to you.

Friday, August 26, 2016

New Journeys

Life is a Journey
On my birthday, I went to an art show that was a fundraiser for a charity. I met a woman with purple hair who's art rather took my breath away. Her name is Giselle. It was compelling and uniquely used elements in the mixed media in ways I had not seen, yet felt familiar. We talked and a friendship erupted from that. 

I got to see more of her work. Painting, mixed media, jewelry, sculpture, and even some photography. I love being a part of my artist guild. Working with other artists and being among them feeds and fills me. Giselle and I have started collaborating on some projects that will be made public (and for sale) in the near future. 

Life is a journey and you have to be flexible to the paths that come before you. You can either stay on the path you are on with a narrow focus or you can take a different road in the journey. This time I have decided to take a different road and enjoy part of the journey with a friend and in collaboration. That new direction in the journey of life is also adjusting my road a touch. Not only will there be collaboration, but I have decided to revamp the site and take it, and my work, into a new and more focused direction. That transition will take some time and my plate is full. 

In the meantime. I am helping Giselle clear some inventory. My site merchant account is only geared to sell photographs, so I am doing a temporary alternative at reduced prices. All her pieces are one of a kinds and I will include a special gift with every purchase. You can see more of her work at the new temporary tab in my web site by clicking here. I hope you enjoy her small scale work and stay tuned as I expose you to her work and the work od other fine artists in the Chicago area.

Life is a journey, it is also an adventure. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Every Moment a Memory


Every moment we have is a moment to create a memory. To create that memory you have to be present in now. You cannot be consumed with the past and worried about the future, now is where the memories are made and the future begins. Memories should not consume, they should remind us of happier days and what we overcame. They do not define us, but they are a part of our story and we decide what is written in the next chapter. With every action and every moment.

These two were holding each other in the midst of a hotel lobby before getting ready to go to a con. They were immersed in a beautiful moment and a memory was likely created. May we all be present and may we all make memories that we can reflect on fondly as we move ever forward.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sophia on Sophia


This shot is in honor of Sophia. If you do not know who Sophia is, you need to explore the artwork of my friend David Hayward. He is also an author. Sophia is a woman on a journey away from pain and into a new world. She is often naked in the woods. It is his journey and the path of many others. He wrote a book featuring his Sophia series of art called, "The Liberation of Sophia". I cannot recommend the book enough for anyone who is in a life transition. She is naked and brave and us. When you look into her, you too feel naked.

I shot "Sophia" in natural light as the dawn of a new day came through the window starting to cast out the shadows. The light is harsh, but to drive out the shadows in life, it sometimes has to be. Like David's Sophia, she is naked. She is learning about herself through the path of Sophia and making it her path. You also never see her face, because she is us. All of us.

I hope you do this same. We are all more naked and vulnerable and brave than we think we are.

If you buy this print, I will donate half the proceeds to his community, The Lasting Supper. It is a space where many other Sophia's like us are walking naked and with all the courage we can muster to move forward in this life. I hope to meet you there.

I know the shot is unconventional. But it is supposed to be. Sophia is honest and raw. I do hope I have honored her, which means I have honored myself, you, and David.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bad Ass To The Bone

Bad Ass To The Bone
Being a bad ass is not about how tough you are, it is how strong you are.

Do you have the strength to hold your head up high when you are judged?

Do you have the strength to look in the mirror and love who you are?

Do you have the strength to not compromise who you are to make another person happy?

Being a bad ass is not how about how many punches you can throw, it is how many hits you can take in life and keep getting up. 

Being a bad ass is not about how much you hate, but how well you love in the face of a hate filled filled world. 

Being a bad ass is about being an individual. It is not true to say you do not care what others think, we all do. But a bad ass can be true to self despite the fears and the perceived isolation. 

A bad ass can ask the hard questions even if there are no answers to be found. 

A bad ass is someone who is an individual in a world of homogenization and conformity. 

I have been called a bad ass before, but mostly for the wrong reasons. 

I hope we can all be better bad asses for the right reasons. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

When Everything is Too Much

Everything
































This shit has combined elements of many things that exist in many of my urban and natural landscapes. There is steel and glass and concrete. There is nature by way of trees and clouds and sky. There is a sculpture. There is even a streetlamp. It has virtually everything from my fine art landscapes. Together, it is just too much.

We want everything, but it is often too much when it is all there in front of us.

My room and condo has too much. As I write this, there is actually a professional organizer in my home that is reducing it all, because it is too much. Everything is overwhelming and suffocating me. Everything is creating stress and affecting my productivity. She is reducing and simplifying.

I am finding out that there is a mindset to having everything. That mindset is we cling to our past and our pain and attachments until it becomes too much. I asked about things that represent memories that may have meaning to me. She looked at me and said, "You are a photographer, right? Take pictures of these things that remind you of moments and put them in a file in your computer. They will always be with you.  And instead of being surrounded by the past that suffocates you, you will be able to open your file and look at them whenever you desire."

When everything is too much. We need to let go.

This is me, letting go. Why? This shot that has everything is too busy and there is no focus. It is too much.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday Storytelling: When You Need A New Story

I was talking to some friend yesterday and I told a story about my life that is approaching it's anniversary. One of the people I was talking to looked at me with horror as she heard the story and cringe at the moment I experienced. It has, in many respects, been the defining story of my current life. It is also a dark and terrifying way to grow. Some seasons are like that.

Anyway, she looked at me and said, "You need a new story."

I told her that is the story I have. I do not have a new one.

"You need a new story," she repeated.

She is right. This is my story. But the chapter ended and the story of life continues. We do not have to be defined by a chapter of our life, even if it was pivotal.

Maybe I am not the only one who needs a new story. Maybe we forgot that the story is dynamic and not a static moment in our past.

I know someone who is going through a new story and she is shaping it bravely. With every step she is defining herself and creating. I am not even sure she is aware she is doing it, but she is.

I have seen others recognize the story being written and invite her into their world almost randomly to share in the story.

That is what we call inspiration and an example that it is possible to create and tell a new story.

I do not know what the new story is for me yet, just as many of us do not know what they new story will be. Maybe the time for the old story is done and it can just be part of the whole, but not the defining moment.

I want my new story to be one filled with hope, love, maybe some passion with a dash of romance and new adventures as well as overcoming and inspiration.

What do you want yours to be?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Of Meeting Mermaids (and helping animals)

Urban Mermaid
So yesterday I posted about the mermaid I saw in Baltimore. I promised that today I would write more about it.

I was standing in a line with my son waiting for a facility to open. I saw her in 90 degree heat walk to the tree on the city block on a small grass hill. She removed her pants and underneath were very small shorts. She greased her legs and slid into the costume methodically and with skill. You could tell she has done this many times before. After about 10 minutes, she just sat there waving at people. Most barely gave her a glace and I felt as if I were an audience of one. 

The doors opened and the line started moving. I got my son situated and ran back outside. I had already taken the shot I posted yesterday, but I wanted to know the story. I came out there and she was still virtually ignored. I had my camera in hand. I walked up and said hi and we exchanged some really corny fish puns. I then gestured to my camera and asked, "May I?"

She said of course I may. I knelt, I squatted, I stood. I took several shots from several angles. Suddenly, she was no longer alone. My paying attention and using my camera I found myself in a small crowd of people taking pictures of her with their cell phones.

When I was done, I said thank you and she asked me for my card. How did she know this is what I do and how did she know I would have a card? We exchanged cards and talked briefly. She is a model. There was a reason why she was there. 

She, and others, model as mermaids to help sea life. When she is not at the National Aquarium in Baltimore with the wildlife rescue team helping sea turtles and seals, she is supporting the Orphaned WIldlife Rescue Center in Lusby helping baby squirrels and owls. 

She makes mermaid appearances in exchange for donations to the National Aquarium animal rescue and conservation programs. 100% of all the donations goes to the work her and the other mermaid's do this on a volunteer basis.

I saw something others ignored at the time as she sat there in the hot summer city sun hoping to generate interest. I stopped long enough to hear her story and take some pictures. That drew a small crowd of people. We briefly shared whimsy and story. It would be wrong for me to post pictures and tell the story without honoring her story. 

If I lived in Baltimore, I would summon her and the other mermaids for the mother of all shots for a gallery showing to contribute to their cause. I cannot do that. But I can go to their site and buy a shirt and make myself and others aware. I can also invite you who read this story to contribute. There are three ways I would like to invite you to be part of the story. 

1. Like and share the f*** out of this.


3. Buy a high quality print of this photo or yesterday's photo (which I am posting baelow to make it simple). I will donate 100% of the proceeds of your purchase to the Wildlife Rescue and Bay Conservation through the Chesapeake Mermaids so they get the proper credit.  To buy a print from me, you need to switch to desktop mode. When you do that, underneath the photo on my blog you will see a small icon that says' buy print'. Click that, choose the size you want and if you want it framed. The shots are formatted to look best in 8x10 or 16x20. Yesterday's shot in more artistic and today's is simple and clean and friendly. I chose that one by design because that was the most true to the mermaid I met. The woman who sat in 90 degree heat for her passion that I hope we can all share and honor.

Thank you in advance for your donation directly to them, or your purchase, or at least sharing this.




Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Things We Miss Out of Our Elements

Out of Elements
It is not everyday you see a mermaid in the middle of downtown in a major city. You would think that this would draw attention. Most people walked by as if she were a panhandler, a street preacher or a musician. I watched her for minutes with fascination. 

Commuters barely gave her a glance. This was something wonderful and delightful that was not in our element and it was being missed. 

How often do we do this? We do not truly know because we missed them. 

Eventually, I did speak with her. Tomorrow I will tell you of what happened when she and I spoke and share more pictures of the mermaid and why she was there. 

For today. I want to focus on something else. 

We are surrounded by wonder, opportunity and whimsy all the time. Things that are not normally where we expect them to be. Too often, these wonders are ignored and opportunities are lost. The opportunities could be love, a new career, a great conversation, a new friend, or just an unforgettable moment or two. 

As you go about the mundane, be present in the moment you exist in and don't let wonder be one of the things we miss out of our elements. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Past Present



So there I was last weekend. I am in Baltimore with my son. Standing on the balcony as dusk begins to set, I see him. The cabbie waiting for a fare. He may have a call or he is hoping for a flag. Either way he is waiting and he will wait many times for 12 hours a night for 5-6 nights a week.

You are alone and very present in your thoughts. I stared at him sitting through my telephoto lens for what felt like an eternity. I saw him present and waiting and I remembered being present and waiting.

Then. I determined to wait and be present. Now...as I was then...

The past reminded me to be present.

Remember the days of reflection and be present now. The past present.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Streets and Steel

Streets and Steel
When I tell people that in my battery of work, that I take urban landscapes, they often tell me that is not as beautiful as nature. But when I am in a city, I do see nature. I see human nature in the streets and steel. I see architecture. I see people milling about of all different races and economic backgrounds. I see streets with taxis and cars crawling at a snails pace. I see food trucks, street vendors, panhandlers, cops and so much more. 

The best and the worst of us is found in the streets and steel. Dreams and realities clash. Art is made. Humans do lovely things and rude things. In the midst of the fast pace you will see people stop to watch someone play the violin with his case open before him with a smattering of singles as people stop...just for a moment...to take in the music. To be present and caught off guard by unexpected beauty. 

This may not be lakes and trees and sunsets dipping into the ocean, but there is beauty and wonder.

There is one common bond I see between nature landscapes and urban landscapes. They are both wild and untamed and cannot be controlled. They have their own life. This is why I find the suburbs the least interesting of them all. We try to contain nature and the streets. We control. We rule. We homogenize. In nature, every area has it's own vibration. Mountains, oceans, deserts, plains and forests are all different. Every city is too. 

May we embrace the untamed. 

May we embrace the streets and steel within us and know that there is life that is unique and vibrant, even if sometimes a little dangerous. It is human nature and just like nature in many ways.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Where

Where?
Where in the world is Carmen is a question asked many times by many children with a computer as they learn.

We learn more about the world by asking more questions. We do not learn by finding a singular answer and just staying there.

The search for where in the world she is is not solely about finding her and criminals. It is the quest to learn more about the world around us. Researching, testing your knowledge and so much more.

May we never stop asking question and finding whatever answers we can so we can ask more questions. Better questions. Deeper questions.

Keep looking and keep learning and keep asking.

Why? What? When? How? Why?

Where?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Something Different Today

This is a video montage I did of my nighttime urban landscapes when I drove a taxi. I hope the message of the song and the mood of the shots move you.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Worn


Sometimes weather and the elements will wear us down. The paint is a little chipped and the wood a little worn. Like this life guard stand, we still have use and purpose and even beauty and charm regardless what life and the elements have done us.  Consider it a sin to buy vintage furniture and refinish it. To do do...to "fix" it reduces its value and charm. Be worn. Be distressed. Don't let anyone reduce your worn.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Unusual Acceptance

Unusual Acceptance
In many suburbs in the Chicago area you will see new and different art work in the middle of town. Sometimes they are large plastic cows painted differently and other times they are themes of a conventional artistic nature. Sometimes, you go into a town where there may be a large plastic rocket in front of a state museum. This is unusual.

When faced with the unusual and the different and the unique, you have to accept it. It is there. Right in front of you. The question that remains is as follows: Do you embrace it and take delight or do you call it weird and dismiss it?

One position is a position of judgement based on what you perceive as good or bad or art or not. You sit in a seat of judgement. One position is based on wonder and curiosity and enchantment. 

We are going to meet people who are like this plastic rocket in front of a museum in a small city's downtown area. They are unique. Initially they do not seem to fit in. They are different. If you say they do not belong, you are missing the wonder. If you embrace the wonder and see whimsy in the difference, you will want to learn more. You will want to know the inspiration and the story and in this engagement, their story will be a part of your story. 

When you come across someone that seems unusual, take delight in your unusual acceptance, not scorn or judgement. The large plastic rocket will never conform to be something other than what it is to suit you. It is a large plastic rocket and it is wonderful.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Nothing Fancy

Nothing Fancy
Sometimes there are no brilliant observations or analogies. Sometimes it is best not to overthink things. Sometimes you just have to bask in the wonder and the beauty of the moment. 

That is all I can do with this simple shot of nature. It is not my best, but I find it lovely.

Sometimes lovely moments are just that. Nothing more needs to be said. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Last Stand

The Last Farm
On Sunday's I take my son to his therapist in Naperville. The area that surrounds it is all commercial buildings and stores and an industrial park. Nearby is a gathering of large fancy homes that all look like one another. While he was in session I decided to take a walk along a bike path. The bicyclists did not really appreciate a pedestrian on their trial. I did not really care. I was one of two walkers and we were both content to walk the trail.

In a small clearing of trees a saw a barn with farm equipment and a metal structure and a tractor and an old pick up truck. I explored a little more and saw a soybean field. I cannot tell you how large it was as I am not good at eyeballing stuff like that, but it was a small farm. 

It was also the last one. 

While I was snapping a pictures a woman approached me and asked what I was doing. I told her I was taking pictures of what I assumed was her barn area. She asked why. I told her because I thought it was beautiful and compelling the way the whole thing is surrounded by brush and foliage and almost hidden. 

"Didn't always used to be hidden, " she said. She went on to tell me that as the city grew the local and state and federal governments have chipped away at her family's multi generational spread using eminent domain for construction of roads and shopping plazas and homes. Then they went on to pass ordinances of standards that would make their farmhouse, barn, utility structures and equipment "eyesores".  Many other family farms have been removed over the decades and theirs is the last in the area. 

"The irony here," she told me, "is that much of what we make is what they demand from their Whole Foods and goddamned farmers market. Organic fresh produce grown locally. They want what they don't want to see. They desire what they don't want to appreciate. It ain't Monsanto driving me out. Never was. It's suburbanites who want fresh kale with their fancy coffee without having to look at my barn."

I talk to my single friends (of which I am one) and I hear a similar tale told often. 

Over the years they have been reduced and chipped away and told their dreams and their hearts need to be kept hidden. Then they go to the dating sites and see what they are in demand. Kindness, honesty, poetic romanticism, hard working, loyal and passionate. These people claim to want the very things they do not want to see as they continue to diminish the beauty of the person and reduce them. 

The things that are most beautiful that we wish to consumed are often tended carefully in the protective hidden brush of life so they do not have to be exposed to more ridicule and reduction. 

If you feel as if you are the last farm making beauty and love and good things without additives and falsehood....I understand. You are beautiful and you are life and they are wrong. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Story Telling Saturday's: Lost

We crave certainty so much that we do not think about being lost. Being lost scares us not because we do not know where we are, but because we do not know where we are going. But the truth of the matter is, we never truly know where we are going.

Think about where you wanted to be in life when you were 5. Then 15. Then 25. Then 35...and keep on going. Where we want to be and our destinations and desires seem to be ever changing that I am not sure we will ever have this certainty that we cling to. 

Being lost seems to be part of our journey and we are all too often dismissive of it. 

When we are lost in our pain, there feels like there is no hope and we are standing at the precipice of the abyss and there is only all consuming darkness. It is only in those times that we find out who we really are when our beliefs are shattered and all that is left is our principles and how we will behave when there is nothing left to cling to. If a person says they have faith in a god and they crumble when the world crumbles, then they truly have no faith. A pacifist who punches another when pressed is not a pacifist. A man or woman who holds to their principles when there is nothing left is who they are. 

When we are lost in confusion, this is when we get to analyze and possibly re-calibrate the map and choose a new path. The confusion is telling us something about the mysteries of life and shatters the illusion of certainty. 

When we are lost in passion we are fully immersed in the physical and spiritual connections we can make with another. Let's be honest, there is a difference between having sex and being so lost in another that you do not know where they end and you begin. Where beads of sweat intermingle and you are fully present and the insatiable hunger is released. Where two bodies intertwine and their very touch is like electricity and every kiss is honey and all that exists is pleasure that churches would call hedonism and all you know is.....yes...this. 

When we are lost in love there is no destination and you do not know or care if this is a lifetime or a season, all you know is that rare moment of vulnerability and acceptance and a desire to become poetry and continually woo knowing that the other is someone you want to continually know and you never want the discovery to end. You want to spend every moment appreciating and being appreciated. 

When we are lost in pain and grief, the tsunami of life comes crashing on the beaches of  our hearts and we never think we will make it, but not only have we survived each and every one of these times in life, we have risen stronger and wiser. We have faced that which we thought we could not face and we survived. 

In comparison to being lost, being certain sounds terribly numb and a little boring. It also is a lie. We do not know what we want in five years. We do not know who we will be in ten. We do not know what happens after we die and we do not know if that person, the job, that belief will still be with us tomorrow. 

I have nightmares from the things that I have experienced and seen that have likely created PTSD. I wake up some nights screaming and punching the air. My body has more scars then the average person. Some of them are from thrilling adventures and others came with a taste of blood and mortality in my mouth. Some came with my arms raised in defense and others came with my knuckles bleeding as I fought. I am stronger because of them and my empathy and understanding of the suffering of others is more true because of it.

I have the memories of passions. The taste of another's lips as tongues dance playfully. The taste of nectar of the poetic beauty that is woman intoxicating my senses.  A body shuddering as my hands and body explored without inhibition. Nerve endings exploited as knees buckle and dehydration is dangerously close as intermingling sweat pours from bodies and souls connected. 

I have love and been loved for seasons that have been living poetry and jazz and did not know or care what tomorrow would bring, but knew that this person was magic. 

Being lost is where life has been most interesting. 

May we never be completely found. May we embrace ever being a little lost. 


Friday, August 5, 2016

What the Water Made Me

Water's Fall Forges
This is water racing down a water fall continuing to form the waterfall and the river. Rocks become sand under the pressure of water. Canyons are formed, coastlines shaped, rivers created and life given. The formation is a slow process that takes a very long time for the process to happen and is barely perceptible. Sometimes it happens in a rush when a tsunami hits a shoreline or a hurricane strikes.

The water shapes and carves our world.

In our life, there is a current and a flow that changes us as well. Sometimes it is barely noticed gentle pressure that happens over time and other times the change crashes on the shores of our lives with a sudden force and reshapes everything. At first we mistake it for destruction, but as we heal, the change is noted and something new comes from it all.

I am in a process of becoming as we all are. That is what the water made me. What is the water making you?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Connections

Connections
This is the North East gallery on the second floor in the Historical Site museum/gallery that I work at. I am only there three days a week, but I do enjoy it. Until September this gallery has an exhibit that I absolutely love. On the wall are mixed media sculptures done by a Chicago artist by the name of Cass Copeland. 

Her father was an entertainer in the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Though her training comes from more than one place and she practices many different mediums, she did train in the B&B program as well. 

The pieces in this exhibit are all built from found objects. Every piece tells a story and you can feel the "circus roots' in the pieces. It is hard to explain, but I connect with each piece and feel like I am encountering the childlike imagination of a young one with the complexity of storytelling that only a master of her acumen could deliver. 

When I am taking point on greeting visitors to our space, I always highlight her work with enthusiasm and try to encourage them to see this gift to Lockport that we will only have for another month. Something I connect with is something I want to share with kindred spirits. When they come back from viewing her exhibit I always ask what they think. Many kinda shrug and say it was nice or they do not get it. I have had one gentleman criticize it and say "I don't get how you can superglue shit together and call it art and charge $1200 to $1500 a pop." I may or may not have said that people who buy mass produced prints at the Holiday Inn "art" sales could never understand in reply. Then came one magical day when a teenager with his parents looked at me and said, "This was the best part of the tour. I love her. My favorite was the bird outside the cage, it made me want to cry. What was your favorite, sir?" From there we talked about 10 minutes about not only her pieces, but art in general. We connected. A few days later a women about my age saw it and when she came down she commented on how much of her story she saw in the pieces and wished she had the resources to buy 2 or 3 of her pieces. I reminded her that she could visit them anytime she wanted for the next month, just like me. Then, we talked about the things we relate to and shared our stories.

In some manner we are all that way. There are things we love and treasure and value and we are sending signals out to others. Most of the time it feels as if they do not care and are indifferent. Sometimes they mock that which we love that are a part of us. Those moments we connect with another are moments of wonder and beauty and we bond with another soul. 

The only way to experience that beauty found in connections is to risk the indifference and the rejection. 

Connections. They are worth the risk and the pain because the pleasure of that moment is beautiful. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Interconnected Human Wheels

Gears
I was talking to a dear friend yesterday via text and I asked her if I was going mad. She said that I was merely on the "small spoke of the crazy wheel". It made me smile and I thought it was the most poetic thing I had heard in awhile. Less then 5 minutes later I would take these pictures of some gears. Gears are a series of wheels interconnected by teeth to drive a machine. It is a series of gears that drive a watch's mechanisms to keep time. It is a series of gears that allow the transmission on our car to shift. I could go on. They are interconnected wheels that drive the machine. If one falls out of place or loses too many teeth from wear, the machine no longer keeps time or shifts the car. 

The smaller spokes and wheels in this case drive the larger ones. They are interconnected. In our life, we are not islands or single wheels unto ourselves. We are a series of interconnected wheels that drive a machine larger than ourselves. Our actions have an effect on the whole of humanity and even the planet. Every lie we tell breaks a tooth on the machine. Every loving act we do keeps the machine going. 

Machines can be fixed when they break and a little care and maintenance will keep it going. 

Here is the point. Not only are we all connected in ways we do not see or understand, we all matter and are essential to the machine of interconnected human wheels. 

Even if we feel that we are a small spoke on the wheel, we are a part. Keep turning.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Places We Never Go

Stairway to?
Yesterday I told the story of the man made island. I took out my telephoto lens to get a better look and found this little curiosity among the bushes. Spaces like that fascinate me. Where does it go? What is hidden behind the brush? 

Ever since I was a little boy I have been fascinated by spaces like this. I remember being 6 and going to DisneyLand with my grandpa. When we were on the "It's a Small World" ride I saw a door. Probably just a service entrance of some kind and I wondered where it went. When I took my son on the ride for the first time in 2010 in my thirties, I looked for the door and it was still there. 

No matter how old we get there is within us a spark of curiosity and wonder about doorways and stairs on islands surrounded by bushes and so much more. Most of the time we sit in wonder and imagination and curiosity. Sometimes we actually explore. 

This is more than just stairs in bushes on man made islands and service doors in amusement rides. 

This is about that dance studio we drive by every day. 

This is about the art classes we see advertised. 

This is about her smile or his eyes that make us curious. 

We should take that class, learn to dance, get to know the eyes and he smile. When we go up the stairs and into the bushes, it may be boring or we may not enjoy the experience. That said, we may find a wonderland in a private meadow few know about. We may enjoy dancing. We may find out there is an artist inside. We may even fall in love. 

There is only one way to find out.

Go to the places we never go.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Islands We Build

Built Island
I was out and about yesterday and I sat at the bank of a man made lake in the upper middle class suburbs of Chicago. In the center of this small man made lake is a man made island. The whole thing felt a little weird to me. I mean, it was very scenic and beautiful. But why a man made lake and why an island?

It did get me thinking about the islands we build in our lives. Poet John Donne reminded us that no one is an island entire of itself, but a piece of the continent, part of the main. (John Donne also wrote some really amazing erotic poetry too, but I digress.) We fabricate these artificial places where we can be removed and isolated from others. We may try to pretty it up a bit and make it look natural. The truth is, however, that it is not natural a life apart from others. We are tribal creatures who thrive on community, friendships, comrades and intimacy. 

The island we make of ourselves may have some pretty exterior shows and we may think we have made beauty and a space we can not be harmed or harm others, but that is not always the case. 

There is a man made island in Singapore. The preparation of an artificial island often requires a lot of sand. Over 5 tons of sand was dredged to create the island and it came at a cost of the delicate ecosystem. The effect of this dredging was effectively desertification of a small fishing village. This pollution created economic hardship and damaged the environment and had a domino affect of the balance of marine nature. All of this occurred so one man could have space to himself and build a home away from the masses. 

When we build our own islands of isolation, there will be an effect. There is always an effect when we create something that is unnatural, even when it looks natural and even have manicured beauty, it may have come at a cost to others. We may set a horrible example to our children as to how to live. We may not be there for someone who needs us. We may miss that magical moment where everything was about to change, and to be alone, we may dredge up things that will harm others. 

The islands we build can come at a cost.