Columbia River floodwaters surround a small tree in northern Oregon. As dusk settled I packed up my gear and waded back to the car. Parked nearby was an older gentleman watching the river and evening flow by. He looked keen for conversation so I waved and said hello.
Through a thick accent I learned he was a refuge from the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian Killing Fields, he’d been living in the US ever since escaping capture. His story of creating a new life, of kids and grandkids was inspirational.
I haven’t been on social media a whole lot lately. This is partly because I’ve been busy working on a few projects (still in progress), and partly because I’ve paused to allow some headspace and play with creative intent. How to make more meaningful work?
With these thoughts in mind, I was almost shy to share the images on the back of my camera with this man. He has lived so much intense conflict. Part of me wished I were doing more to directly impact global issues. Was a photo of a tree and a sunset trivial?
The answer was indirect through his smiles and laughter. Even as he described some of the crazy things he’d seen, he was quick to turn his attention back to some positive aspect within his story.
Maybe that’s why he survived. Perhaps looking for beauty and things to appreciate really is a radical approach. When so much is being fought against, and so many things shout for our attention to change, the most revolutionary thing to achieve is an unconditional focus, that no matter how crazy things may seem... we can always seek the good and reach towards it. Maybe that’s when the simplicity of a sunset is most powerful and needed. All the difference being a conscious choice to look that way. The light abides.
Kauai could use some love right now. If you are aware of the need, here are two quick links @WeLoveHanalei, and @Malama_Kauai. Go there, help, be awesome.
If this news is new, last weekend the islands north shore broke records with over two feet of rainfall, and the resulting floodwaters drove a path of carnage. Houses literally swept out to sea. I’m writing this from three thousand miles away, but can picture the floods impact on banana tree, palm shaded, tin roof shacks much like the one I lived in and adored. Devastating. To help rebuild, there are multiple fundraising options. The Hanalei-Haena Flooding Fund, is a GoFundMe that has collected $187,156 of $1.0M goal thus far. @WeLoveHanalei is auctioning items donated to benefit the cause, and @Malama_Kauai’s Facebook fundraiser page has multiple options, aside from general donation. Malama Kauai is a great organization that contributes much to the community year round.
After a storm I went walking in the woods. In a mossy green clearing lay the large red branch of a madrona tree. Stripped of leaves in the wind, it seemed to have the graceful structure of a gently reaching hand, so I met it with mine and carried it home.
Close by is a shallow bay. Winter brings wind, and clouds, and its rare to find a low tide with a still clear dusk. So the branch and I waited.
Then late one evening, it was time to go. I lashed the branch to the back of my paddle board and we glided off towards the bay.
Sinking the branch into wet sand, I let go, and it held. And continued to hold while I made a few exposures, then said goodbye to paddle home in darkness.
It was a fine clear morning. The wind was pushing, the board was steady, and light was the paddle. Two days and seventeen miles later, wind against, sun burning, and paddle heavy, lightness was all I felt.
In the southwest at a very popular scenic spot, I should have been most fascinated by the thousand foot drop to my right. The view was awesome, and what the visitors center was there to showcase, but somehow this little guy, whose stature of three feet feeling like thirty, captivated me most. Nature is fun, and cool things abound, just waiting to play.
In climbing and life, fear and anxiety dine on above and below, future and past. But here and now, where are your hands, where are your feet, where is your mind? You can make your way up some pretty intimidating things one foot at a time.
My relationship to that thinking, isn’t always as deliberate. So for a little while, I’ve been sitting with it.
Meditation is like climbing in a cloud. The edges get soft and cozy. It’s amazing to watch the same ledge go from secure to insecure and back to secure again with the varying confines of passing vapor; great heights or falls, hidden or revealed, possibilities blowing by.
That old saying about not looking down is only partly true, it’s ok to look down, just so long as you don’t think down too, better stated, you’ll be alright as long as you enjoy the view.
It was the middle of nowhere, and slowly, quietly, careful not to be elsewhere, I snuck up on the somewhere. And there we were, until It was gone, and so was I.
If you can stand in a place of discomfort, yet feel with certainty that warmth is waiting for you, perhaps it’s not so uncomfortable, even beautiful, and you’re alright just where you are, as bunnies leave small tracks over sensual bodies of marshmallow.
I’m very happy to announce that I’ve been selected as the winner of the 2018 Hasselblad Masters competition, landscape category. Thanks to all of you reading this for the support, and those that took the time to click me a vote. I’ve been very fortunate to be on this artistic journey, and as much as the path is its own reward, recognition like this feels pretty cool. @hasselblad_official#hasselbladmasters
I’ve always had a tendency to find things I’m passionate about and chase after them. When I was little it was skiing, and drawing, then as I got older, relationships, surfing, travel, photography. With most of these things, I’d catch up to them, and be surprised by the feeling of something missing...
I’m a little embarrassed by how long it took, but am finally starting understand what’s going on. When you work really hard towards anything because you love it, it’s easy to associate the results with the work, but it’s most likely the love that got you there.
The subject of your love or passion is a great excuse to apply the good vibes, but the good vibes come first, and don’t have to rely on the conditions of the subject, they rely mostly on the mindfulness of your thought. Not always easy, depending on where you look, but it’s sure easier to try and control your internal conditions than the external. Plus, the funny thing is - you tend to find what you’re looking for.
Cheers to 2018... inside out.
At a certain depth, the pressure equalizes and you just float. You don’t rise to the surface, you won’t sink to the bottom. You just lie there, arms outstretched looking towards the light. If I haven’t been there in a while, it’s amazing to watch the mind become agitated and start asking for air, far before the body needs it. But, a subtle shift of focus, a general letting go, and you’re back in that blissful zone. A lesson in objectivity that comes in handy on the surface too.
My favorite maps are usually the ones I forgot to bring.