Sunday, September 01, 2019

An Unexpected Kindness


"Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken." - Maria Popova (1985 - )

Looking back over the life of my humble little blog, which I started in 2004 as an unsure, tentative "toe dip" into (what at the time) was still an untested world of on-line media, it has evolved into a quiet little oasis for me to spend time in, away from the stresses of life and job. Though it used to be replete with essays (something I look forward to getting back to, as time permits in the coming months), it has steadfastly remained a place for me to share my thoughts (albeit mostly via others' quotations in recent years) and images. Much to my surprise (and delight!), my blog has attracted (a still growing list of) people who find enough value in what I post here to "follow" my entries as they arise. I was reminded of this kindness - a fragile gift in this world that I try never to take for granted - while on vacation with my family in the Pacific Northwest (during which the image above was captured, on a beach on the western side of the Olympic Peninsula).

One beautiful morning during our stay, my wife and I were sipping coffee and "nature watching” with our binoculars in the solarium of a wonderful Airbnb home we had rented for our vacation. In-between numerous sightings of dolphins, sea-otters, eagles, and the like (each, an even more precious and fragile gift), I would occasionally glance at my iPad to continue reading my book-of-the week-vacation-reading biography (which on that day, happened to be of William Henry Jackson, whose photographs of the American West in the 19th century were, in part, responsible for the congressional vote that established Yellowstone National Park in 1872; but I digress). My iPad alerted me that I had a new email. I almost didn't look (and normally do not when on vacation), but look I did.

It was a lovely email from a recent "follower" who politely inquired about whether I'd abandoned my blog (reminding me that I had not posted anything new since the beginning of June!). While I post whenever I have the chance (and have new images to share), but have simply had no time for new work in recent months (a not uncommon occurrence throughout the 15 years I've had my blog), it didn't occur to me that I might actually have followers who'd miss my posts enough to send an email! The day this email arrived was already special - what, with a preternatural display of nature's beauty just outside our beachfront rental? - but my new follower's heartfelt concern for my blog's future (it is emphatically not abandoned), and the kindness he bestowed in taking the time to reach out to me, made the day that much more memorable. The impersonal sterility of our modern world makes it easy to forget (sometimes, but not on this day), that what connects us all are simple, genuine, human gestures, like one photographer reaching out to another over the technological ether to ask, "I enjoy seeing your pictures; you haven't stopped posting have you?" No, kind reader, I have not. And thank you so much for asking!

PS (to the person who sent me the email): You mentioned that you were also taking a trip, in your case to the Adirondacks in New York. I had emailed you a few "early" essays to tie you over until such time as I got back to posting, but forgot to include an old entry from a trip I made to the Adirondacks back in 2008. The entry - "Boinga, Boinga, Boinga" Shots - recounts a timeless experience that all photographers go through at one time or another. I have learned quite a bit in the time since I wrote that entry (in regards to the subject matter described therein), and will be sharing some thoughts in future posts.

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