This summer has been a whirlwind. Work fills my days + the homestead and boys fill the days off. It has been difficult to find time to breath, never mind write anything coherent or take any pictures.
With a few dozen employs and a hefty commute, it seems like I am always in-between one thing and another.
Consequently, I feel like I am always thinking about the place I am not currently occupying. It can be maddening.
I believe that a great deal of the pressure in my day to day life is created and contained in myself. A universe of “I should.” “I can’t stop now,” and “I must do more.” Often instead of motivating me; these thoughts can stifle my will to start anything around the house, no art, no sewing, no crafts, no cooking adventures, no writing… you get the idea.
There is so much to do and that constant nagging voice that assures me that even if I make an attempt at whatever it is, that my efforts will not be good enough.
I should just save myself the time, watch some TV and rest.
This is a false voice, one that is incapable of having my best interests at heart. It is the selfish, lazy, small me and I don’t feel bad ignoring it. There is story (I don’t know how well known it is) about an old man walking down the beach, it goes like this:
One day, as the old man was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,
“It made a difference for that one.”
― Loren Eiseley
Doing what you can is enough.
There will always be people judging the quality of your efforts and you can spend you whole life bound up in those criticisms. There will be many days when your best is simply not good enough. It is a reality but not a place to build a life. Often I feel as if real life happens in the space between.
When I leave my door; I have no idea what the day will bring and that can be gut-wrenching. The constant anxiety that the worst is just around the corner, is a hard monster to get back in it’s cage once loosed.
I find myself in these moments and all I can think to do is breath. Everything starts with breath. From the biggest leap to the smallest step. The ebb and flow is the last part of one thing and the beginning of the next.
The earth breaths. I rarely take the time to notice. Much as I can go a whole day without once being aware of my own respiration, though obviously it was happening the whole time. There is so much I take for granted as I rush around.
With this sentiment I rejoin the Photo Challenge at the point where our paths cross this summer.
Morning dew gathered on my nasturtiums to be exact.
I planted them because they remind me of sun bathed gardens back home in Santa Cruz. As I tilted the camera this way and that, some of the droplets dislodged and joined in the center.
I had the strong hope that I could be like that someday. That the breath of the wind (or some humungous photographer) would shift our worldly leaf and I would once again collect in the center of it. Waiting with my family and friends for the sun to warm us, eventually giving us wings.
The water cycle is so simple and essential to the existence of all life on this planet. Yet I hardly ever notice it in the morning’s haste to get up, get everyone feed, get in the car and leave. With so much in life out of control and uncertain; it is nice to think that every morning water will condense on leaves all over the garden. It will wait there till the sun liberates it from the earth’s gravity and its impurities. For a while it will float, pure, in the space between. Collecting again in the sky as the day cools.
Every day I am given a new start.
I think it is the patience of the water on the leaf that makes it beautiful. In that moment, it has chosen to stop and be. Waiting to be transformed. From some angles reflecting the surrounding world or letting it pass through almost unaffected.
Transcending what is now; on its way to becoming what it will be. All at the same time.
These details matter- just like retuning as many starfish as you can to the sea. The other more subtle reality in that allegory is that you can not save them all. Both men agree on that. It is their reactions that differ. Often life overwhelms us, like a wave on the beach.
That droplet of morning dew may have been a tsunami the day before. If I can be fluid and dynamic, maybe I can vacillate between mountain moving force and morning dew.
It’s worth a shot. I have had far worse ideas.
Be well! Thanks for reading.