Friday, September 30, 2016

Man and Nature and the Nature of Man

Nature and Mankind
This was one of my pictures of Niagara Falls I took in 2013. It was a rather impulsive moment. I was an hour and a half away from the falls on a business trip. As I was leaving I thought to myself that I would see one of the great natural wonders of the world. 

The closer I got to the falls, the more congested it was. The more tacky and horrific all the signs and the storefronts were. The more impossible it was to drive and park. 

This natural wonder of the world is so congested with the lesser wonder of consumerism and tourism that getting a good vantage point is an arduous challenge. 

But that is what we do when we find something beautiful, isn't it. We try to surround it and contain it and control the narrative. 

I have seen that happen to not only natural wonders, but people. 

We will, in our lives, encounter beautiful people who inspire us. Those lovely souls are sometimes surrounded by lessor ones trying to make a buck, own or capitalize off of that which is lovely on it's own as it is. 

May we all move past the ownership mentality, the tourist mentality and return to pilgrimages of beauty and just take in the wonder for all that it is. May we not try to control and contain wonder and open it up to all.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Who is Out Of Place?

Out of Place?
I went to a regional airport a few months back and shared some shots. This is one I did not share as of yet. It is a wild coyote in the middle of the tarmac at the regional airport.

At first it seemed out of place, then I remembered a story someone told me about a wild bobcat where she lives. A friend's daughter was trapped in a barn with a wild bobcat. Police and wildlife rescue were able to get the young lady out safety and extract the bobcat safely to be released back into the mountains and the trees. 

Many people who live there spend insane amounts of money to transplant to this area of nature and beauty.  I think their wealth may give them an illusion of control as if nature were a barista to shit on in a local Starbucks. One of them commented to her that the police should have destroyed the bobcat. She has lived there well over a decade and understands nature. She looked at them and said, "Why? The bobcat was here first."

The more and more we build, the more and more we encroach on wildlife and then when it wanders about we say it is out of place and does not belong. We see the same with human beings. Indigenous populations and gentrification are merely two horrific examples of what we are capable of. 

Sometimes we are like the coyote. We go to places and for various reasons we are made to feel as if we do not belong. Maybe it is because of our color, sexuality, weight, gender, income level, style, or any other reason. We are made to feel uncomfortable and an outcast for simply being ourselves and going where we need to go or wish to go. 

It may even be is spaces you feel invited to only to find out you are not welcome for reasons unclear to you and made to feel less over it. 

I would love to tell you to ignore them, but sometimes they make it difficult to do so when they chase you out or wonder why further action was not taken against you. 

The world is getting smaller and smaller every day. There are less woods and habitats for us to be safe in. We will have to take risks to simply live our lives. Sometimes not everything is warm and fuzzy, but in you is beauty and strength. Know that as you travel, those that say you are out of place or do not belong are wrong. You may have even been here first. 

The people who determine what is and is not out of place are the blind ones. They have no place to say you are out of place.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Battle Ready

Battle Ready
To be ready for battle or combat is not the same thing as going to battle. It just means you are ready if you have to be. Sometimes in life, you have to be battle ready. The cannons have to be set to fire as you traverse the seas of life.

If you have to go to battle for yourself, for love, or for others, be ready and only fire if you have to.

To my daily readers, I apologize that quality of shots has been less lately. I have been hanging in there and now I am battle ready and in the fight....for me, for my son, and for those I care about and love. For once, I take care of me first.

Battle Ready. It is a part of the story of us.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Through The Fire And The Smoke

Through the Fire
We focus on the fire and the smoke in our lives. The heat of the fires in life burn, but we forget what else is happening. 

Despite the smoke, the light of the fire will show us community and friends on the other side. 

That is all I got today.

May we use the fires in life to light our way to love.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Beauty in Trust

Trust
There is in this life moments that you do not capture the way in which you would like to, but you capture them the way they were meant to. When I am out with my camera and I capture a moment, there are two cameras, the camera in my hand and the camera in my mind.

I am thankful that the camera in my mind retains the clarity that my camera does not always get by way of exposure and focus. 

I knew this moment would not last long and I knew the sun and shadow were off for a shot, so I overexposed my settings and shot it.

There is a ladybug in a child's hands. She (the ladybug) trusts her (the child) implicitly and that trust is not betrayed. The ladybug is safe in her hands. She only has care and compassion and love for the little ladybug. She is gentle and kind. 

The previous day the same child would trust me implicity, grab me by the hand and take me to wonderland. Her wonderland would be a space at a wooden table outdoors where I would be covered in paint and glitter in short time. 

Just as the ladybug flew away to never be seen again after this wonderful moment, I would eventually have to fly back to Chicago and I will likely never experience moments again with the young lady that ladybugs and butterflies trust.

We all have moments and the moment is all we have. We do not know what the next day will bring. We need to treasure the ladybugs, capture the moment and savor every beautiful nano-second. 

There is beauty in the moment, there is beauty in trust. May we honor and treasure the beauty in trust we had, we have and we will have. May we treasure more than we lament. May we never forget the moment in front of us right now. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Story Telling Saturdays: The Value of the Artist

This is going to be a momentary rant.

Artists are asked by governments, churches and business people to make art at little to no fee often. There is this promise of "good exposure" used as the exchange. Some of the people who make this offer actually believe it is true. That they are offering with their graciousness, an opportunity for a struggling artist to make a name for themselves.

What they have actually done, is diminish the value of the artist and art.

The same people who will pay $40,000 or more for a car, wear a Movado watch, buy organic foods at Whole Paycheck, and expect to be paid for their skills put art and artists at the same level of value as their child's stick figure sketch on a refrigerator wall and are ultimately looking for get something of great value for nothing.

If it is a government agency on a local level doing this, they fail to realize that art not only contributes to the social equity of a community, but the economic equity of a community. You see the art every day on every storefront and in every advertisement and catalog and website. Someone studied a craft for years. Sometimes they were self taught at great expense and investment of time. Sometimes, like me, they were apprentices working under a master or three learning the craft. Then there are the ones who got a degree in their craft and studied in art schools that are often more expensive and gave a higher level of education than the CPA telling you that it is acceptable on a balance sheet to devalue art and artists.

I have lost count how many times I see someone go online and just grab a piece of art or music for their own purposes and give no thought to it and incorporate it to their website or literature or event and they would be the first to call the police and cry foul if someone were to refuse payment for their services our grab a widget from their store and place it in their pocket and walk away.

Here is an interesting fact for you. Of the 25 top rated museums in the world, the following are among those.

The Met
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Acropolis
The Louvre
The Van Gogh Museum
Uffizi

Many of the other museums on the list such as the Smithsonian also have priceless works of art that are featured.

If you are willing to spend $30 or more to see these wonderful treasures, I have good news for you.

In almost every town in America and in many villages and small cities around the world, there are galleries featuring the work of local artists still creating beauty, making statements, reflecting the best and the worst of us. In many of these galleries you can walk in at no charge, and if you see something that moves you, you can take it home and make it a part of your life, your family and your heritage.

It has value. So does the artist.

Please, buy art. Do not steal it. Please, be willing to value the artisan and not try to make them your slave and pretend to be doing them a favor.

The value of the artist is priceless, the value of their time and art should come with a fair price.







Friday, September 23, 2016

Focus On Creation

Focus On Creation
This is another perspective of the artist and her work. I put the primary focus where her primary focus is..on creation. Creation takes not only what is in our hearts and our souls and our minds; but creation also requires focus and intention.

The creation can be art, the creation can be friendship, the creation can be romantic love, and even sanding and staining your deck. 

A friend recently reminded me that with every moment we take action, we are creating. We create love, we create hate, we create strife and beauty. Many of these creations happen without thought and much focus and they often lack the beauty that intentional focus can give. 

When we focus on creation as she is, that which is in our minds and hearts and souls can come to life. 

Focus on creation and focus on beauty. We have enough reckless creations making the world darker and destroying our very ecosystem. 

Focus on creation for it is part of the best of the story of us. 

***If you wish to buy this or any print in an 8x10, they are available at only $10 from now until October 1st. Just go into desktop mode and you will see a 'buy print' button by almost every photo on this site. ***

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Artist's Presence

I just ask that you take a moment to see the creation in process. The focus and the love. The brush is a caress on a new friend coming to life and into creation from the artist's heart and soul to be shared, when complete with us. 

This has value. 

This is beauty. 

This is creation. 

This is art.

This is us. 

We create, we love, we share. We have value and beauty too. 

The artist's presence is within us all. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

SPECIAL SALE ON ALL 8x8 & 8x10 PRINTS!

Soar free, own art, save money!

From today until October 1st, all 8x8 and 8x10 prints of my art works is on sale. 

50% off on both. 

$10.

All pieces are still limited to 20 and then I remove them from the store.

"So, Pat," you are not asking, "I am looking on my phone and I do not see how to buy your art. How do I take advantage ot this wonderful deal?"

Mybad. My widget for my store does NOT work on mobile browers. I am so sorry. I will change that soon. But for now, do the following. 

1. Switch to desktop mode on your browser. 

2. Go to the store tab and you will see a "buy now" widget on the bottom right of the photo. 

3. Click that and buy it and it will be yours!

4. Also, all photos in the blog are for sale the same way. So scroll through your favorite pics and stories and make one yours today!


Believe in Imagination and Whimsy

Flight of the Faerie
This little girl was a faerie all day long at a Peace Pole event. She had a grown up faerie with her all day long and it was wonderful. Then, I saw her by herself for a few moments and she took to leaping and flight. I could see in her heart and mind's eye that her wings were flapping and she was taking to flight blessing everyone with glitter and making their day's bright. 

We, as adults, have taken to suppressing our imaginations and a sense of wonder and whimsy. We say we are being realistic. I often disagree. I feel we are being fatalistic and forgetting to believe in wonder and joy and delight. We have forgotten to imagine dreams and try to make them come true. We sit in realistic misery and wonder why we are so sad. We are hard workers, we are denying ourselves so much and as we take this realistic road that lacks wonder, we never feel good enough because the demands we place on ourselves are never met. 

I am in no way saying that we dispense with reality. This little magical one will have to go home, possibly do chores, eat her veggies and go to bed at a reasonable hour. She may even have school or daycare to attend. she has a life of realities, but part of her reality is delight and leaping about the garden making us all smile. 

May we never forget to imagine, to embrace whimsy and believe that not only that is all right, but we are all right. 

Believe in imagination and whimsy and you will believe in yourself and beauty.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Campfires Of Life


When I was a minister I was part of something called the Outlaw Preachers. Conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists used to write about us a lot as if we were a movement to be feared. The reality is that we were mostly men and women who gathered together to love, exude grace and drink a cool drink by a warm fire. At least, that was how we started.

I used to think I needed that label of Outlaw Preacher to have that. Here is the thing. I was wrong.

The cool drink by the warm fire can happen anywhere. With anyone. And I can be whatever I am.

Some of the people around the fire that I sang with in this shot I have known for a scant few months and others I met just that day. We sang songs of peace and hope and love and enjoyed each other's company.

Find your fire and your beverage and taste life. The campfires of life are waiting for all of us and our voices. Sit down and add your voice to the song of life and warm not only your body, but your heart.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Path

The Path
There is a path before all of us. We may not know what is around the next bend. It is mysterious. It is beautiful. It is scary sometimes. Sometimes it has choices and forks and hazards. We may slip and fall and get hurt. But the path is there. When it is lovely like this one, it is easy to accept it. 

Even when it is not as lovely as this...stay the course. Enjoy the path.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

StoryTelling Saturdays: A Year Ago

On Facebook, there is this thing called TimeLine Memories or something like that. It tells you what you posted a year ago that very day and gives you a glimpse into what you were posting. For the most part it is pretty trite and in other ways, it had given me an insight that I have been watching.

The last few months have been fascinating. One year and a few months ago I was at my most angry point in life and my most dark. I even had a dear friends point out how scary it had been becoming. It would come to a crescendo where I would have to face it all and almost lose my life to get my head out of my ass.

Now, I am watching the path of life as I allowed love to enter and the brightness that I see is wonderful and it brings back a different set of memories. But as I see the new memories and those moments, they are almost harder to read than the darkness was.

Why is that harder to read? Because in the darkness, I knew how that ended and it was wonderful despite the terror. I know how this story ends as well, and it has some hard moments.

So, I have two choices, I can continue to drive ahead looking through the rear view mirror of life, or I can be grateful that every moment in my life has led me to this one and make the most of this moment so I know where I am on the road of life.

It is better to navigate when you are aware of your current surroundings.

I like it here. I like ti now. My room is a little messy, my life is a little messy, my world is not perfect, but I am pretty damn happy. I have amazing friends, I have art, I have this moment and in this moment I can taste coffee on my lips, look to my right and see a friend with me as we get ready for an adventure at an event where we are getting to work and delight others. My walls are covered in art and books lay at my feet. My sinuses are a little clogged, but that is okay. I like my work. I love my son.

There are some things that I wish were different right now. But looking backward will never change any of these things and some of them I have to accept as they are. If I do not accept these things, then that means I do not accept people and that is not something that I want to be a part of my nature.

The memories are fine and all, but now is where I life. Now is where life is. Now is all I really have and any of us really have. Yesterday gave us now and now will give us tomorrow.

A year ago was nice, but now is here and now I can love, now I can improve my station, now I can be and become. I miss part of a year ago, but if I dwell on that, I will miss today.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Many Gardens

Most of the garden pics I take are full of colors and vibrant flowers and shades. But as this Japanese garden shows, there are many gardens.

This one is sand and stone and decorated rock and a stone objet d'art with green bushes that are meticulously trimmed. 

All gardens take equal care, but no two gardens are the same. Gardens will sometimes start off as one thing and develop over time into something different. They are all gardens and they are all valid in their definition of gardens. If all gardens were the same, we would be living in a rather bland existence of uniformity and conformity. 

It is why I often compare love to tending a garden. 

Gardens do not just happen. You have to decide what you want to plant in your garden of love. You create the love, then form it. Oh, you may be inspired together by forces you may not understand in the heart and the mind, but it is your actions and your tending and your care that decide the elements and the shape of it all. 

I have shown pictures of gardens that are potted plants and flowers on balconies, English style gardens, Japanese style gardens, and gardens with no conventional definition save that of being beautiful. 

All are gardens and no one gets to say one is not or one is less. You may prefer certain gardens, but if you are not the one tending it or caring for it, you do not get to shape the garden or define it, the gardener does. 

Whatever your garden of love looks like, whatever elements you decide, however many times you change what is grown so you can taste and smell and feel different things, know that it is right and it is beautiful and it is yours and you made it. You cared for it. you tended it. 

As always, beware the weeds, protect it from predators, care for it, tend it, but more than anything else...take time to enjoy it. 

Many forms of love. Many gardens. All are love and all are gardens. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Feral Hearts


I know a roaring lion in a zoo is not a feral animal, it is actually quite the opposite. It is a wild animal that has been caged, but it is so rare that the lion at the zoo roars that I had to capture the moment.

Feral hearts. There are some people who want to be domesticated. They long to be in a home or a cage where they are cared for, fed, every need met and for them. That is life and comfort and good and that is fine. That seems to be the expectation we have for everyone.

But there is the feral heart. They tried to live in that home and fit that mold, but they could not. Their hearts longed for the wild, the woods, the danger, the passion, and the freedom. The idea of a home or a zoo or any such thing is suffocating.

I remember one time I was in the woods for a long weekend with some friends. It was in Montgomery Bell State Park in Tennessee. We had rented a villa. There was a feral cat that would hang out outside. We left a plate of food out for him every day. He would come, spend time with us and even allow us to pet him. We named him Hummus the cat....cuz he could not get enough hummus. He was not a stray. He was feral. He belonged in the woods and were we to even try to bring him into a house, he would have felt the walls as a prison if he were not allowed the freedom of the forest. But he gave us the gift of his company, his purring, his love. We got to share life without ownership or rules.

That is what a feral heart is. It is independent. It knows what it is and what it needs and it needs to be free. If a feral heart comes into your life, you spend time together because the heart is drawn to you. The heart wants to be with you, but you must never try to control the heart, domesticate it, restrict it.

Sometimes, a feral heart will desire a home. Not domestication, but shared existence with willful interdependance and love without conditions.

If you are a feral heart. Others may want to be with you and they only understand the domesticated existence. They have to understand that is not your heart and if you were to become that, your heart and the you they were attracted to would become less and even if you were to become what they want, you would be less true to you and they would never feel what they felt when they were drawn to you and you would be domesticated, but not loved. They do not understand it is your feral nature that they fell for and to domesticate you, they would stop loving..for they never loved you. Not truly. They never understood.

If you ever meet a feral heart and it wants to stay with you.....to spend time with you. Know you have a gift. The gift of willful presence. Never dare to contain it, control it, or own it. That will hurt the heart and we must never do harm.

Feral hearts are the most real of us all. If a feral heart says it loves you, it means it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Water

About a week or two ago, I was in the lobby of a museum with an older man. I do not know how old he was, but he was well into his senior citizen years. 

He took a drink from the water fountain. When he was done drinking he grinned at me and said, "I remember when we had our first water fountain in town. I was a kid and it was put in the playground. We all lined up to it like it was the greatest invention ever. It was amazing."

It had never occurred to me that there was a time where drinking fountains were not common. What it must have been like to see your first bubbler and drink from it. I told him so. 

"Son," he said, "We are surrounded by everyday wonders that were a first discovery for all of us. We have forgotten to be amazed and we take it for granted. I was married once, I took her for granted until we heard that word...cancer. I lost her. We made the most of the little time we had, but I squandered thirty years. Worried about the wrong things. Fooling around. Wishing she were this or that instead of loving all she was. Drinking fountains. Gardens. Electricity. Love. They are around us everyday. Everything is."

I told him that was amazing. 

"I have cancer now too," he said. "Water is life and today I'm alive. In a few months I wont. I wasted too many years, but I have today and I just drank from a bubbler and told a young man to live. Archie."

He held out his hand. I took it and gave him my name. 

"We are friends now, Patrick. We shook hands. Drink from the bubbler of life, son. Take nothing for granted."

And with that, we walked away to enjoy the exhibits. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Frozen Falls

Frozen Falls
I often talk about the gentle and persistent nature of water. How over time it can pulverize rock into beach sand, forge rivers and canyons and so much more. It is, like love, gentle and persistent and life giving and  given time and pressure, powerful.

And yet, there are times, where even water can be stopped. 

In this case, the harsh elements of the coldness of life were able to stop the flow of the fall. Frozen by harsh realities, even rushing water could be stopped. Love could flow no more and was frozen...stopped in mid rush.

A cold that can stop the flow of love so suddenly is a bitter harsh cold with a wind that can cause frostbite and permanent scarring on exposed skin in mere moments.  But in this picture is another reality. There are clouds in the sky. Water, love, that has evaporated has not gone away, it has taken refuge and collected together to slowly build with the winds of change and will one day become rain that will fill the river once again causing it to flow. 

But for now, the falls are frozen. But if you wait patiently, if you look long enough as the cold wind becomes a distant memory, you will see a droplet or two start to move. The ice will melt and the water will flow. Water and the river and the lakes and the falls and the oceans will continue their persistent current of love. 

Harsh realities may have frozen your life source of love for a time. Heat, time and neglect may have evaporated the cup that fills you. 

But if you are patient, water's persistence will do what it always does, flow and move forward in its never ending quest to carve out beauty in our lives. If you do not believe me, look at pictures of the Grand Canyon. It took water in all it's forms a long time to carve out that wonder and it is still working. 

Trust the waterfalls, trust the process and know that love's flow can be halter for a time, frozen, but it cannot be stopped.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Sensual World

Sensual
When I was growing up in church culture, there was a very unhealthy view of sex. Normal and healthy sexuality was bad. It went beyond LGBTQIA. It went beyond the whole sex only in marriage thing, it even went into masturbation considered bad. When I went into the progressive Christian movement, there were a lot of us who had that unhealthy view foisted upon us, there was also an acting out that was equally unhealthy. 

It took the therapeutic process in post divorce and post ministry to finally gain a healthy view on sex, sexuality and sensuality. 

The sensual world is something we place in a seperate category of life and we have strange conversations we do not have about anything else. I was talking to friend the other day and we spoke about the strange import people place on "the number". This is the magic number of people you have had intercourse with. 

You are rarely asked about how many times you have been in love, how many people you have kissed, how many times you have felt electricity rush up your spine at the very act of holding someone's hands. How many times have you lit up when that special someone walks in a room and his or her simple presence stirs up within you? Are you still in love with the one that got away? Can you be fully immersed in me and think of no other when we are together?

We are not asked these very important questions. 

We are asked the number?

The sensual world is beautiful and pure. It awakens the senses and you can become so lost in a moment that you forget where you end and the other begins. This is living poetry. This is music between two people. This is fire and awareness and beauty and wonder and delight. This is two becoming one person, one body, one spirit lost in the rhythm of the fragile connection of two souls. 

This is not some separate category under the rule of church and government. This is not some naive focus on some arbitrary number. This is a part of us. This is part of the whole of who we are and what we can not only share with another, but a part of ourselves that we can get into contact with. 

When we embrace our sensual self as part of our whole self, we can find ourselves complete as  wonderful tapestry of us with the threads of passion interwoven as a part of us. 

If you feel guilt laid upon you because of your number. If you feel shame over things you have done or had done too you, I need you to know that is not your scarlet letter to bear. That is judgement and anyone who would shame you for who you are is not one who can accept you or worthy to walk in your garden and taste your fruits. 

Let go of shame and embrace the beauty of the sensual world. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Saturday StoryTelling: Not Safe. Who Cares?

There are so many things in this world we do not do because they are not safe.

Love is not safe.

Dreams are not safe.

Passion is not safe.

Believing in yourself is not safe.

Trusting others is not safe.

Fighting for your happiness is not safe.

Taking chances is not safe.

Conviction is not safe.

I would rather live dangerously than to live without these things. Because it is the safe path that leads to misery, loneliness, sadness, isolation and the promise of a life where you strive to mediocrity.

I have been safe. It hurts.

Some things are not safe and they may burn you and they may would you. Who cares?

You are worth a little danger.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Darkness and the Light and Moving Forward


This shot was taken with my Fujimatic Bridge Camera in full manual on Chicago Street in Downtown Joliet.

It was Christmas night of 2013. I was not in a warm house celebrating the day with family and friends. I did not get to see my son. I spent 13 hours in a taxi on a slow night and after I fueled up, I had made $37. Think about that. Let that sink in. Even the guy who had to work at walmart got double time working that day.

I wore a Santa hat and played Christmas music on the radio all night long.

In the darkness I learned an honesty about life that nice society does not always understand. It is in the dark and the gritty and dirty and the lonely, that the lights shine more beautifully. More vibrantly and with more color. A merry Christmas to you from a tired CNA who is barely making it and tips you $1 from what little she has is a moment of warmth.

It was the darkest Christmas I had ever had, but it was that Christmas that I truly saw light for the first time.

I no longer work in an environment where I will have to make less than minimum wage on a holiday when I should be with family and friends. But my awareness has forever changed me. Every Christmas, a part of me will still be on that strip, in the dark, appreciating the little things. Seeing what few can see or understand. Knowing how precious love and the moment is and how the moment is all we truly have and to take that for granted is to squander life.

This is more than just a bittersweet Christmas tale. This is me having had a chance recently to interact with others who know the darkness and because of it, they love and accept and savor all that life has to offer in ways that those in the pretty 'burbs will never allow themselves to see life.

While they pity the denizen's of the dark in the holiday season with a few dollars in a plate and fear them as they drive through their habitats, they are missing out in the light we have in the night.

If we could only listen to each other, we could all learn from one another.

As we move ever forward, may the darkness and the light find one another and share life.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Neverending

Neverending
Have you ever noticed that when you are working on a project or striving toward a goal, the closer you get to the summit of completion and accomplishment, the further away or impossible everything seems to feel?

I have a walk in closet that a few weeks ago I could no longer walk in. I have tried to clean it a few times, but the more progress I make, the more difficult and impossible it seems. Then I have a new problem, I have moved items out of the closet and into my room and have no idea what to do with my messy room and the walls close in and I write run on sentences and everything is terrible!

When I spent time in Haiti I learned a Haitian Proverb. Translated in English it simply says, "Beyond mountains. More mountains."

A mountain is large and difficult to navigate and once you accomplish getting over it, there is just another mountain to face. While you climb one mountain and get higher and closer to the goal, you are more aware of how tired you are and how many more mountains you have to navigate. 

It is seemingly impossible and seems it will take forever. 

Here is the truth. We will never hit a point in life where there are no struggles. When we die there will likely be a to do list, things we wish we had done or things we still want to do. There may even be stress and regret or undisclosed desires. 

There is another perspective. One we do not see enough. 

We have climbed so many mountains in our lives. We have made it to the summit of  small hills and dunes, large rocks, and mountains that dwarf us. We have stood on that summit for a few moments and enjoyed the view, savored our accomplishments, and then moved on.

When we are close to the top...or at least closer to the top. We are making progress. We are almost there. We are no longer in the valley, we are moving toward the summit. 

Regardless how many summits we stare at in life, no matter how many valleys, we can only navigate one at a time and we need to remember what we have accomplished, because it is in that moment that we will realized we have been here before, it was just a different hill or dune or cliff or mountain. 

We can do this. 

I have allowed myself to be stuck in a moment. I have sat at the side of a dune that is not very large and stood paralyzed because I no longer wanted to move on. I wanted to go back to a place I cannot get back to. I wanted a summit that I was at once. The view was spectacular and breathtaking and it filled me with wonder and restored my belief in beauty and I will miss that summit for every day of my life, but I also have the memories. I remember it. I choose to remember it fondly and know that it is a part of me and my story and my climb, but I have a dune to get the top of now. 

Keep climbing. So what if it is neverending.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Right Passion

The Right Passion
Very recently, my business partner (and damn dear friend) and I were selling art at a booth at an event. A band called Chasing Amy was doing amazing covers, people were milling about, it was wonderful. Of course, I was hunting for customers and trying to move inventory. This is how I eat.

Two young people came to our booth and the young lady, a senior in high school, loved my work and connected with it. She told me with fearful enthusiasm that she was a photographer too. I knew in that moment that the time to make money was over and that we needed to talk. I decided not to do what most "professional" photographers do and dismiss her, I decided to treat her as a peer and ask her to tell me more. 

With so much enthusiasm she told me about the class she took, her preference for film, her work in the school paper and other school events. I told her that being the photographer for the high school newspaper and yearbook was how I started and how it led to my career path. Her friend and Giselle (biz partner and dear friend) joined in the conversation and we were all over the map. 

We spoke about beauty and horrors and art and passion and the things we have seen in the darkness of life and the beauty that is always present in the darkness when you look hard enough. 

Then the young lady said something that made my day. 

"I don't even know what brand my camera is."

"Thank God!" I exclaimed. 

I went on to tell her that I have a hard time talking to photographers today. They go to meetup groups and brand each photo with their logo and name. They talk about their equipment and their software. They speak of the tools, but not the art. They are so lost in the passion of expensive gear with too many fuckin' megapixels and overpriced software that they do not have a passion for the right thing. 

"What is the right thing?" she asked. 

"Passion. Looking through the viewfinder and becoming one with the camera. It is just a tool, but in the right hands, it becomes an extension of your eyes, your body and your very soul. It allows you to use your perspective to show others the world you see, the love and the heartbreak, the story and you. The right passion is not found in gear and lighting and techniques, those are mere tools that drive the passion. 

I sit with artists who paint. I do not hear them talk incessantly about Windsor Newton verses Creative Edge canvasses. They usually get what is on sale with a coupon. Utrecht brushes or Dynasty, what brand oils or acrylics or watercolors. No. They may have preferences, but the conversations is about the creation, the frustrations, knowing it is finished when you look at it and say, "This is shit! Pure shit!" But even as you say the words, you secretly love it and know you created something and told a story (well, sometimes you also think it is shit).

We tell stories. We share perspectives. We create. What I consider the main difference between photography and painting is this (and I know many will disagree with me), the painter starts with the canvass. For me, the canvass is the last step. I capture my perspective and creation on the canvass last with a click of a shutter.

Here is the thing. The canvass, the paints, the brushes, the kilns, the clay, the camera, the software are the tools we use to create. We create, we see, we use the tools to do so. In the right hands a 6MP DSLR or an old 35MM camera can create far more beauty than the most expensive Nikon with the lighting kit and 4 figure software package. Because the truth is, art is really 80% perspective and passion and 20% skill. That is my opinion."

Then I asked her which were her favorite pieces of mine. Her and her friend told me the ones they liked. I gave them 2 prints and one framed print, signed them, and thanked them. It was the right thing to do because I wanted all of us to remember and treasure this moment. A moment where a 17 year old and a 46 year old were peers who shared passion. We are all peers. 

I know this is getting long, but I have to keep going because this matters. 

Last month I was at a Anime convention in Baltimore with my son. While he was at a panel I walked about the night streets and saw a professional photographer doing a shoot for a cosplayer who paid her. Her fancy hot shoe flash umbrellas with the wireless remote trigger failed. She messed with the equipment and I stood across the street and watched. She could not get the equipment to fire. I saw her about to end the shoot. It was not for her, it was for the young lady who worked so very hard on her costume that I did what I did. I crossed the street. I told the young photographer to give me her light meter. I re-positioned the cosplayer near a street light, put the camera in full manual mode and set the tripod. I looked at the photographer and told her to only change the focus and do not touch the speed or aperature. She did. I re positioned, reset, let her shoot. 

She looked at her work and showed it to the cosplayer. It was haunting and beautiful. The subject/customer was delighted. I walked away and started talking to a friend via text on my phone. The photographer came to me and thanked me as she lit a cigarette. I looked at her and said, "You are a user of the camera, you rely on the camera. You need the tech. Be Luke Skywalker once in awhile. Turn off the targeting computer and shoot."

"Not like I have the force, dude."

"Well, if we are gonna beat a dead horse out of this analogy, Luke was not a jedi yet, but he worked with what he knew."

The picture above is of my Pentax K-1000 35mm SLR camera that my dad bought me Christmas of 1983. I still break it out once in awhile. That camera shot pictures that appeared in the school newspaper, the yearbook, at least four different professional newspapers, various websites, market copy, and even a magazine or three. I have a picture in this blog of the moon. You can see the craters, it is clear, it is true. I did that with a Pentax K100D packing 6MP with a 200-800 Pentax Lens without a tripod in manual. It was not the camera, it was my perspective and passion and ability to use the tool and not let the tool use me. I did not even plan the shot. I was standing on a third floor balcony in Baltimore and I saw the moon and knew I could, and had to, capture it. It is my favorite moon shot of mine yet. 

I have seen carpenters have a hammer break, they can be handed another hammer and keep working. It is a tool. In the right hand, the hand that can create and envision and knows how to drive the nail straight and true, he can still build the house. 

Have the right passion in life. Do not let the tools be the passion, let the passion for creation, love, sharing, and perspective be the passion. 

Have the right passion. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Backed into a Corner with Flair

Cornered With Flair
We all have moments in our lives where we feel like we are feel closed in, trapped and maybe even backed against a wall. Often we have that feeling because we are.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. So if you are backed against the cold hard concrete of life, you may as well say to hell with it keep your individuality, style, and have a little bit of flair. You can be cornered, the walls can close in, and you can still win by not losing you in the process. If you can do that, if you can keep your flair and yourself, you will always come out of those moments better. 

Most of the time, I prefer to keep the black and white pure and without effects. I firmly believe that there is no black and white, everything is shades of grey-scale. But there are some individuals, like in the movie Pleasantville, that add a splash of color that you cannot help but be drawn to.

That spark of color in the black and white and grey world is a stark contrast that you are drawn to. There are many that would want to enclose that individual freedom and make that splash of color like everything else so it can fit in, obey the rules and be a responsible shade of grey. 

No matter how high the walls, mo matter how cold the concrete you are backed into, wear your favorite gloves and doc martins and make sure you never lose that splash of color. We need a few focal points in this life to stand out. 

Some will say your splash of color is irresponsible, it is not mature, it does not fit in, it is wrong, you are wrong. you are bad, you are too loose with your color and it may even be a sin that hearts need to be guarded against. 

They are wrong. Their orderly black and white can barely recognize and comprehend the beauty and the nuance of the grey. People like that who cannot even see the grey rarely accept the splashes of color. What they see as wrong is their limitation and not yours. Your color gives us new focal points, new perspectives, and brings us to beauty and to freshness. If we are so bold as to not only accept, but to cherish and celebrate it, we will be enriched and you will tear down walls and the only time your back will be against the wall is when you strike a pose.

If you are gonna get backed into a corner, do it with flair and with color. We need you. 

I need you. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Alice's Zen

Alice's Zen
I did a mixed media piece featuring "Alice". It will be on display at the Origins III Gallery opening in October. A portion of this photo is one element in it. I hope you come see it. All the elements together are compelling. Beautiful.

Alice, like all of us, needs a focal point. Something to still the ever churning waters of her racing thoughts that lead her to spin in the tension. 

Music is her zen. It can take her through memories, lead her to believe in love's possibilities, excite her, move her and relax her. It is sometimes spiritual and always something she can be lost in.

Music is the vibration of our souls. It taps into our nature and our dreams. It moves us and sways us into it's rhythms and we can be lost in the beat, the motion and the lyrics. Music can soothe us and invigorate us. The song of the troubadour becomes our song and can bring back old memories and create the tempo for new ones.

Music is life. Music is the soundtrack to the story of us.  

For some of us, we find our center in music. Music can heal and it can calm the storm raging in us. We realte to it or get lost in the what if's. 

Music is her zen. Music is my zen. 

Get lost in a song. 

Sunday Silence: Urban Wonder

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Story Telling Saturdays: Don't Just Read About Life...

I never ever thought I would quote the Bible on this blog, but here we go.

In the Bible there is a section called the book of James. James is reported to be the half brother of Jesus. Same mom, different dad kinda thing cuz...ya know.

Anyway. in the first chapter, James says something interesting. He writes the following. "For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror and, on going away, immediately forget what they look like."

I have friends that are devout Christians. They constantly quote the Bible and their favorite inspirational authors and then, when life gets rough, crumble under pressure. I also have friends of other faiths or no faith who do the same with inspirational books, self help gurus and other things.  I have friends that are business people. They go to seminar after seminar and still do not know how to run their business or market.

What is the point of reading these thoughts, sharing them online and going to convention after convention is you are not going to live it.

Who we are is not what we quote and share online. Who we are is how we behave when the chips are down. Who we are is found in our real actions and thoughts when life happens. Some will say we are tested. No. I do not believe in universal life tests. Life happens.

Medical tests are sometimes positive. Children do dumb things. A partner or friend may betray you. Someone you love may die. You may make a mistake or lose a job or the car may break down. That is life. That is what happens.

If you have something that inspires you and resonates with you and gives you hope and encouragement, it is only useful if you live it.

It is like buying groceries and never using them and wondering why you are starving to death and complaining about it. You told me you have groceries and now you tell me you are hungry. Go make a sammich. You have food.

Sometimes we will try to live out a principle that inspires you and it does not work out for us. That is all right. Sometimes when I go grocery shopping I try something new and it turns out I do not like it or it is too hard to prepare. But if that happens. I stop talking about beets. Beets do not hold up in reality.

Just to beat my analogy with a dead horse. I have lost count how many times I have bought bananas only to have them go bad. I finally stopped buying them. I did not live the banana life.

At the end of the day, it is not about what inspires us, it is about what we do and how we try to live. If something inspires you....try it. Live it.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Summer Wine With Alice

Summer Wine
Alice realized part of the reason she did not respect, or even like herself, is that she allowed people who did not respect her or see her inside her. Inside her heart, inside her soul, inside her mind and even inside her body. She desperately wanted them to say they loved her. She jumped through their hoops and tried to meet the impossible standards of small minds and smaller hearts. Her heart was larger than theirs, it was more true, more kind and stronger than they gave her credit for.

She sat in the sunlight with a bottle of wine and thought. A glass was not needed for these thoughts for the bottle would soon be as empty as the love she never received from these small people. As the sun warmed her body externally and wine warmed her internally she knew that she could never win their approval. She could never meet their standards. They could never love her for they had no love.

They had nothing to give and everything to take and there was not much left of her. 

They had charm, a good body, looks, possessions and a reputation in the community. They had everything society values, but they had no values and they could never value or cherish her. 

The smallest of grins started to across her face as the warmth of something else enveloped her. The warmth was the beginning tickle of love. The love that one has for one self. The love that begins the journey to Wonder. 

There was, for the briefest of moments, a calm in the storm. She knew this was the eye of the storm. To fight her way to Wonder, she would have to leave the pain. She would have to stand for herself and value the treasure she already was as she was.  

Alice's Journey begins with hard realizations and warmth.

Enjoy a glass of Summer wine with Alice and value yourself .

Do not give your heart, your mind, your soul, and your body to those who do not wholly accept you. That devalues yourself and impedes the road to Wonder and your dreams will be forever held hostage and the road impeded by their avarice.

This second Alice piece can be purchased by switching to desktop mode and clicking the buy print button. (sorry it does not work on mobile browser mode). Only 20 will be printed, there are 17 left



Thursday, September 1, 2016

New Summer, New Freedom (and new directions for the site, meet Alice)

New Summer New Freedom
I have had this piece on display in an archival quality print, professionally framed at the Flower Of Life Art Gallery in Lockport.

I need to tell you the story of how this piece came to be. I was talking to a friend of mine and asked her what summer meant to her. The last few Summers have not been kind due to toxic people in her life. She told me what she would like summer to mean to her. 

She told that Summer was hard for her. The ghosts remained and would not be weeded out until she made new memories. Then she said, word for word, the following. "Sitting on the porch early morning...drinking coffee...watching the hummingbirds. Feeling the sun on my face, grass under my feet, wine on my lips. I'm trying to define my new summer. This is a new summer for me."
I spoke with the model about what my friend had to say about Summer. I told her what I could of the woman I know without betraying her privacy until the model was moved to emotion. She wanted freedom. She changed, wearing my dress shirt and nothing else. Armed with a bottle of wine in a meadow at dawn, she danced and felt wine on her lips and grass beneath her feet and cried for the freedom as the sunlight shone upon her. 

We tried to tell a story with a photo and we succeeded. 

We also started a new chapter. 

The model, when she saw the finished product, told me that she felt more beautiful and more free than any other time she has done a shoot. Beyond that, seeing this photo made her feel beautiful in general. 

We have agreed to continue working together and create a character based on this shot and the journey we tried to reflect..

Her name is now Alice and this is her adventure in Wonder.

This shot will be the end of a very important chapter, but we will begin her story soon. I cannot wait for you to meet her again for the very first time. 

Alice has some friends. One is named Hatter and the other is Cheshire. You will see them and many of her other friend in the near future as we tell the story of Wonder and love and heartache and freedom. 

You may purchase an 8x10 print of Alice's Debut here in desktop mode for $19.99. I am limiting all Alice prints to 20 including that which I have in my personal collection. So there are 17 left.  

If you would like to purchase the framed print that was on display in the gallery, Please feel free to email me at: patlgreen@moonlightashes.com 

Thank you for reading and I hope you share this story and make it a part of your story. As this summer winds down, you can still have new freedom and wonder.

That will be our new focus on the art hear at Moonlight From Ashes. Freedom and Wonder and shared stories. In this land of social media gone awry and politics on steroids and 24 hour paranoia...I mean news...we need to know that beauty and wonder still exist and it is there that we will find freedom.