Friday, March 20, 2020

...................... Yes, We're ... Connected ....................

... the title really says it all ...
... though we lost touch a while ago ...
... first Vipassana Meditation Retreat complete ...
... and it blew my mind ...

... many experiences I hope to write ...
... in a while, for some time to come ...
... today I found this song for you ... 
... plus the lyrics to help you see ...

... have a glimpse of my last 10 days ....
... and see that we're connected ....
... yes, we're connected ...

Luke Dick 

While I turn the pages of my book 
Across the world the author cooks 
She pours the wine, while I break the bread, 
Because we're connected 

Roots beneath my family tree, 
Deeper than the eyes can see, 
All tangled up like spiderwebs, 

Drums in the darkness 
You can feel the pulse 
First there was star dust 
And now there's us 
All I ever was, 
All I'll ever be, 

Can you still hear that cosmic spark, 
Cannons blasting in the dark, 
When we blew out like grains of sand, 

Drums in the darkness 
You can feel the pulse 
First there was star dust 
And now there's us 
All I ever was, 
All I'll ever be, 

So, pour the wine, I'll break the bread, 
We're all tangled up like spiderwebs, 
And here we are, still grains of sand, 

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”  -- John Muir

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Behold the beauty in this world

Beautiful Graffiti, Waikiki, HI, December 2014, iPhone 6, 29mm, 1/60 sec @ f2.2, ISO 40, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp

Can you imagine stumbling upon this graffiti while roaming around town?

The buildings in this area were generally decrepit, and yet someone created and shared with everyone this amazing artwork, painted on the corner of a building!

Simply amazing!  Beauty can be found anywhere one looks closely enough.
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.
And perhaps more importantly ... what are you doing today or tomorrow to make this world a more beautiful place?

The world is not waiting for someone to heal it.   It is only through the power of our own intention, that we will mend what is broken, that we will shine our light and illuminate the beauty for all to see.
What you are, the world is. And without your transformation, there can be no transformation of the world.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

What makes a house a home?

Family Cookie Jars, Amherst, NH, June 2016, iPhone 5s, back camera, 
29mm, 1/64 sec @ f2.2, ISO 32, 0 EV, with flash © Steven Crisp

So what does make your house into a home?  Is it the size of it?  Its grandeur?  The number of bathrooms?

How about the amount of stuff with which you can fill it?  I'll have to ask you to trust me on this one, but that's not it ;-)

I've come to realize that less can really be more.  A few special possessions in an otherwise light, open, and airy space.

And what if we really prioritized simplicity and aesthetics over size.

Maybe emphasized minimalism and affordability over life energy expenditures.

Maybe thought about getting down with the Joneses, rather than keeping up!

Well to that end, I commend to you this Top 5 video of my favorite Tiny House blogger:

And even if none of those tiny homes resonate with you, I'd recommend you check out his channel.

He does a great job showing eclectic and novel structures, and there are ideas buried inside each home.

Think about how much benefit can come from thinking small rather than going big.

And think about the financial freedom that would provide.

Enjoy the exploration!  It's a big, bright  ... tiny house ... world out there!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

It's time to smile, isn't it?

Sunrise Sky and Reflection, Tucker Pond, Salisbury, NH, July 2017, 
Nikon D600 with FX 16-35mm VR lens,16mm, 1/640 sec @ f10, ISO 125, -0.67 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp 

"The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you.  Don't go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.  Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.  Don't go back to sleep!"  ― Rumi

Dear friends,

I can think of no better way to kick-start the new year.

Please take time to celebrate the fact that you are alive ... Today ...  At this very moment.

Savor, savor, savor ... and smile ;-)

Will you make a date to watch the sunrise?

I can think of no better way to welcome in each new day!

And afterwards, perhaps, you will watch this:

The video is a wonderful overlay to his words of wisdom.

And it is short.  Short enough to ... watch ... every ... single ... day.

You are awake.  And you are alive!  Please smile, and just become present.  Become aware!

And then be joyful!  Namaste

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Gift of Presence

Twin Island Sunrise, Lanikai, HI, February 2016,  Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
40mm, 1/2000 sec @ f4, ISO 800, -1 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp 

Happy New Year's Eve!   Let's bid an Auld Lang Syne to 2018, and get a jump start on 2019!

And look, here is a gift for you.  Who doesn't enjoy a beautiful sunrise, with colors bursting forth in a few short minutes, bringing warmth to your face.

But the real gift is Presence.  So please unwrap your presence to this very moment.  Remember that each day is a new beginning, and be grateful for each breath you take, and the fact that you are alive.  It's so amazing when we are truly aware.

Please enjoy this poem.  Namaste!

“If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh (born 1926)
Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Teacher, Author, Peace Activist

Sunday, May 06, 2018

What is this? Quite simply ...

Calligraphy by Vietnamese Buddhist monk and author, Thich Nhat Hanh

I came across an article from the online version of Lion's Roar magazine.  I really love the simple, yet deeply profound writing of Thich Nhat Hanh.  He has been such a luminary for our time.  Here are some sections that spoke to me:

Our true home is not in the past. Our true home is not in the future. Our true home is in the here and the now. Life is available only in the here and the now, and it is our true home.
Mindfulness is the energy that helps us recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives. You don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of your daily life. There are those of us who are alive but don’t know it. But when you breathe in, and you are aware of your in-breath, you touch the miracle of being alive. That is why mindfulness is a source of happiness and joy.
We spend so much of our mental energy and thinking mind focused on the past and the future.  And yet we can, if we choose to, drop the thinking mind to be fully alive and experience the world, as it is, right here, right now.  And only in the here and now.

Most people are forgetful; they are not really there a lot of the time. Their mind is caught in their worries, their fears, their anger, and their regrets, and they are not mindful of being there. That state of being is called forgetfulness—you are there but you are not there. You are caught in the past or in the future. You are not there in the present moment, living your life deeply. That is forgetfulness.
The opposite of forgetfulness is mindfulness. Mindfulness is when you are truly there, mind and body together. You breathe in and out mindfully, you bring your mind back to your body, and you are there. When your mind is there with your body, you are established in the present moment. Then you can recognize the many conditions of happiness that are in you and around you, and happiness just comes naturally.
 This is really so.  I find it is often easiest to experience this way of living when we are connected to the natural world, experiencing the animals, realizing the dance of life all around us, and seeing everything as interconnected (literally).  It is Spring now as I am writing this, and to witness the rebirth of plants and trees and animals that had been dormant or hibernating -- is really awe-inspiring -- something you "feel" rather than "think about".  Hence the connection with your body; itself an integral part of nature's unfolding.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, September 10, 2017

This is *your* time -- how will you use it?

Do you ever think about all the people that lived before you were even born?

Have you ever looked at old family photograph or antique portrait, taken back when photography meant 8x10 cameras on tripods with long bellows and and a blackout cloth?

Did you looked closely at their faces?  Perhaps you noticed a sparkle in their eyes -- the spark of their consciousness recorded in those photos?

As a teacher of mine once said he used to love to view such old photographs, even of total strangers, because it would remind him:  "that was *their* time ... now this is *my* time."

And this is also *your* time.

For the people in those old photographs, that spark is now extinguished.

But yours is burning as long as you are alive.  How brightly it burns is largely up to you.

                   The Summer Day —Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean -
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Obstacle

The Obstacle, Before the Dawn at Tucker Pond, Salisbury, NH, June 2017, Nikon D600, 19mm, 1/800 sec @ f5, ISO 1250, -0.33 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

The Obstacle

It floats out there, somewhere. 
In my mind?  No, farther. 
At the edge of dusk-dawn. 
Glimpsed, like a threat. 
Unwanted, but not to be ignored. 
Submerged for one moment, bobbing up the next. 
Caught in my mind stuff. 
A blemish to be photoshopped out:
not natural, not perfect. 
A thorn in my mind. 
Salt in my wounded ego. 

The sun is rising now.  Birds sing. 
A small turtle meanders;
head up, head down, breakfast underway.
Mist swirls along a glassy pond
Propelled by warming zephyrs.

A hummingbird flits by, stopping to wonder 
about my stillness.   Is that bright jacket a flower?  
She finds the feeder instead.  Two hummers now 
flit in and out like passing thoughts.

A subtle wake emerges, as the beaver serpentines on stage, 
wondering who is the watcher from afar.  
And why are you kneeling in the morning glow?

Almost free now. Flowing with the turtle. 
With the beaver. With the hummers nearby. 

I look up and Bang!  My obstacle is back 
like a beaver tail-slap. Right smack in my sight-line. 
What just happened?  
Was it worth the loss of peace?

The sun now warming my face. 
Sunglasses deployed to shield the fusion reactor. 
Shivers turn to warmth. 
Petals glisten as dew drops fall. 

Ahhh. You're back Now. 
Don't go back to sleep.  You have arrived.  
Be my guest. Please stay for a while. 
Here is a gift for you - this present moment. 

That obstacle you were so fixated on 
is just a part of what is. 
Like the great heron that stands 
in the shallows. Watching. Motionless. 
Until startled, it takes flight. 

The obstacle is not a "problem" to be solved. 
Not a conversation to be rehearsed 
over and over; talons grabbing into you 
like unexpecting prey. 

It just is. Neither good nor bad. 
Only thinking, thinking, and 
more thinking, makes it so. 

Presence brings back the panorama. 
The beauty and serenity. 
The dance of light. The break of dawn. 
The ripples in the stillness as we, 
collectively, breathe in and out. 

You can see those ripples now. 
The sunshine blushing behind clouds.  
Ripples shutter glances of sky, water, 
and the muddy bottom. 

Sunlight teasing now.  Please take a little off.  
Don’t reveal too much too soon. 
Don't spoil the anticipation.  
But that is future stuff.  
Stepping into the river of time. 

Instead I see only ripples in the clouds. 
Ripples on the water. 
Ripples in this moment of now. 
And now. And once again.  
Each one fresh. Reborn. Always unique.  

Come join with me.  Relaxing into peace.
Let's float with ease
among these spaceless ripples 
in this timeless moment 
called Now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Canopy

The Canopy, Kailua Beach Access Point #91A, Kailua, HI, October 2013, Canon PowerShot S90, 6mm, 1/30 sec @ f8, ISO 800, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

There is this magical place, on the way to the beach from where we first lived in Hawaii.  A healthy Banyan tree is flourishing in the sand at the beach access point.  It's not the largest tree, to be sure.  You might not even notice it while driving down the road.  But if you are walking past it, on your way to or from the beach at dawn or dusk, you will surely hear the tree -- it is alive!

In the canopy, largely hidden from sight by the dense foliage, are hundreds and hundreds of roosting birds.  And at the turn of each day, they are very chatty.  Cannot-hear-yourself-think chatty! 

And that is good, because our thinking can oft times inhibit our appreciation of the sensory world; of paying attention "now."  And what might our mind be thinking about?  Just about any thing other than our immediate and felt experience.  

So thank those flocks of birds, and anything else that jolts us awake or applies the brakes to our locomotive brain.  And be reminded of this:

"Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares
which will not withdraw from us.
We need hours of aimless wandering,
or spates of time sitting on park benches,
observing the mysterious world of ants
and the canopy of trees."

~Maya Angelou

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

When is a Question more important than an Answer?

Who am I?, Lanikai, Oahu, HI, 2/1/15, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 300mm, 1/250 sec @ f5.6, ISO 640, -0.67 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Once upon a time, I went through a mid-life crisis.  It was the good kind, not the red corvette and trophy blond kind ;-)

During those tumultuous-but-introspective days, a group emerged, somewhat as a parody of my state of mind, called "The Seekers".  It was pretty normal for every group gathering to end up discussing some of my "urgent" questions.  Who, what, where is God?  Is there a personified God?  Which religion has the Truth?  Etc.  While I may have made the gatherings somewhat stimulating, I know I also challenged a lot of deeply-held beliefs, and that is not the best way to win friends or influence people ;-)

I also read -- a lot.  And I was quite inspired by all of this.  To the point of having brief glimpses of what some might call "the divine", "satori", or the "true self".  I wrote about them on this and some of my other blogs.  But emphasis on the world "brief".  Good news:  I knew (aka experienced) that there was something there.  Bad news:  easy to lose that state, and hard to get it back.

But the end result of this wondrous 10 years or so was that I had in fact "found my answers".  I was no longer a "Seeker".  When you feel you understand the "Truth", or at least believe you have an understanding of its fundamental nature, so much of our religiosity and consumerism and modernity becomes clear as nothing more than a side-show spectacle.  So it is pretty easy to drop.

But another thing happened on the way to understanding ... I lost my voice ... my creative muse.  Where the heck did it go?  And why?  Well today I was reminded of the answer to those questions.  Which is somewhat ironic, as the real answer is the title of this blog post -- "When is a Question more important than an Answer?"  When you are looking for the meaning of life.

Meaning -- at least for me -- will not come by finding answers, but by remaining open to the great mysteries and eternal questions.  Not by understanding the evolutionary purpose of our biological life, true as that may be.  Meaning for me, will come I now realize, by continuing to delve deeply into the inner life -- my inner life. 

Recently, I made a significant decision to retire from the one and only company I have worked for my entire adult life -- 37+ years with one firm.  Pretty unheard of these days.  But October 3rd will be my last official work day.  While day-to-day activities will continue to demand much of my time, I've now realized just how essential it will be to dedicate as much quality time as I can to asking Questions.

And to what end?  I don't know, for sure.  And that, my friends, is a part of this adventure we call Life.  Anyone wish to rejoin "The Seekers"?  Everyone is welcome.  The goal is not so much to challenge, as it is to be open -- to new questions, new insights, new experiences, and to uncertainty.  I can think of nothing better to spend my "retirement years" on.  Oh yeah, and having some fun all along the way.  Welcome home, I say.

Oh one more thing.  It was this interview with Jacob Needleman (for whatever reason) that inspired me to think these sorts of thoughts again.  That's probably more a reflection of my state of mind, than this interview per se, but who knows -- it might be helpful for someone else as well.  Enjoy, if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

To breathe or not to breathe

Surely we must breathe.  It is one of the most basic, automatic things we do.  And if we don't, we die, right?

Surely we must eat.  Again, same words.  But what is really true about either statement?

We don't need to breathe all the time.  Just take a look at this beautiful and peaceful dance between a freediver and a whale shark.  So much time without a breathe.  We can train our minds and our bodies.  And then we can be somewhat more in charge of who we are and how we are.

And what about eating?  Well I'm doing a bit of an experiment lately.  Been doing it for a little under a month.  It's called intermittent fasting (IF).  And basically, it means not eating for the majority of the day.  Or alternatively, eating during a relatively short period of time during the day.  Perhaps a 6 hour window to eat, and 18 hours not eating.

It's just another form of fasting.  Something that has been done for millennia -- both borne of necessity, and of choice, often associated with spirituality.

I'm not drawing any conclusions so far; the experiment will continue for the foreseeable future.  Except two things.  First, when I don't eat in the morning, I'm no longer hungry either.  I'll either drink water and/or black coffee.  I really enjoy how it makes me feel.  Second, I am as a result, much more mindful about whether I need to eat due to hunger (or other conditioned signals).  Much more so than I was before.  I think this is perhaps the greatest benefit.

I'm sure I am eating less each day than if I was not IF, so that will contribute to some weight loss, but so far, nothing dramatic.  Maybe 5 lbs over 3 weeks.  But maybe you have heard the term:  Hara Hachi Bu.  It's what the Japanese call eating until you are 80% full.  Still a little hungry.  Not stuffed to the gills ;-)

It is the place I think I want to be.  This little article has a quick summary on it:

So anyways.  We must breathe, but we can control those conditions for when we breathe, how frequently, and how long in between breaths we want to go.  And the same is true for eating as well.  Who would have thought you could learn that from a video of a lean freediver and a whaleshark ;-)

Enjoy more by doing less.  Namaste.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

To run or not to run ...

The Run, Mill Trail, Mont Vernon, NH, 7/14/16

So today I went for my first run in quite some time, and my first run since being back in NH.  I set out with no plan, and followed my nose, stumbling onto a new housing development, which happened to have a development map, and along side the development, there was a trail shown.  So I thought, why not do trail running rather than asphalt running.

It took me through the woods, and eventually came to a stream with rocks available to cross, as seen in the picture above.  Very nice, if somewhat buggy.

And why did I choose to run, rather than not to run, today?  Was it because of my recent drives on back country roads that I had run in my earlier years?  Or thinking about the cooler temperatures on the summer mornings?  Or coming across a field mouse, tripping over himself to get out of my way?  Or that giant fungus about two feet across at the base of a might oak?  Or the dogs quietly observing me -- good boy?  Or the gentle babble of slow moving water in the stream?  Or is it the not-knowing of where one is headed, but trusting one will find their way home?  Or perhaps that gentle tightness in the stomach, perhaps there is some fat-burning underway?  Or the light sweat, that actually tingles the skin as it begins, making you think a mosquito has landed?  Or those crazy deer flies that buzz incessantly?  Or listening to my favorite Buddhist teacher (Gil Fronsdal) in my ears?  Or anticipation of the cool shower as I head down my driveway?

Yeah, it's one of those reasons for sure.  Maybe all of them.  I'm just glad I laced up the shoes finally.  Hopefully, more to follow.

Friday, July 08, 2016

To trust or not to trust ...

Directed and edited by Peter Sharp.  More at The Liberators.

Video from KarmaTube

To trust or not to trust ... perhaps that is the question?

Our reptilian brains have evolved to distrust "the other".  This has served us well from an evolutionary standpoint, where our basic survival was at stake.  But now, in an ever expanding, connected, enlightened world, where civilization has helped to provide for our basic needs, is this who we wish to be?

I mean it is a basic question -- is the glass half full or half empty?  Are you a trusting person or not?

It sort of "defines" your world view.

And yet there is a persistent drum beat of skepticism, cynicism, and out-right fear mongering that makes up much of the current day information feeds.  It takes a strong-willed person to ignore the "click-bait".

I have always been served well by conceptual test if a given idea is a good one or not:  does it scale?

Just imagine two worlds.  One world in which there is no trust, every stranger is assumed to be a foe, or out to take advantage of us, where we close up and constrict at every interaction and exchange with others.  Or another world in which you give each person you meet the benefit of the doubt, an assumption of good intent as the basis for interaction, allowing us to be open to new possibilities or new experiences.

To me there is only one answer to the question "to trust or not to trust."  Decide which world you want to live in, how you wish to go through this world, whether you will be at peace with your fellow man.  Or better, be at peace within yourself.   And feel the connections, community, and support of others.

Just like the young man in the video.

Oh, and I trust my next post will not have to wait another three years.  That was a bit excessive.  ;-) Let the games begin!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What if you just turned off the TV?

Just turn it off, Graffiti in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
32mm, 1/100 sec @ f3.8, ISO 400, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]
No, really.  What if you turned off the TV?

    Not - watch less of it.

    Not - just keep it on "in the background".

    Not - save it only for your favorite shows.

    Not - play it back from a DVR and therefore skip through the ads, on your own schedule.

    Not - only catch up on the news.

What if you just turned it off, and never turned it on again?

    "Oh, that's just not possible.  Why in the world would I do that?"

Ah, but it is.  At first I didn't think so either.

I knew I never really liked watching the tube.  For me, it was all consuming.

My wife, however, really could have it on in the background, and still do other things, like quilting, embroidery, and amazingly to me, even read a book.  Right there on the sofa, while the TV is blaring away.

But me?  I just could not multitask in this situation.  If the TV was on, I was watching.  Even stupid shows.  Mindless, lowest-common-denominator stuff.

And then one day, it just happened.

The TV was turned off, and it was never turned on again.  I credit my wife for this decision.

The TV wasn't evil to her; just a tool, like the internet.  But I guess she too noticed it somehow had become a time sink.  And so, when I came home from work one day, the TV was off.  After dinner, the TV stayed off.  And it was never turned on again.

And instead, in the evening, after an unbelievable home-cooked vegan meal (I am such a lucky man), we tend to read now.  And during the day, and on weekends, we have more free time to pursue our interests, or spend time outside in nature.

So did turning off the TV profoundly change our lives?  I'd say, "yes and no".

"No," because all we did was turn off the TV.  Anyone can do it.  In fact all you really have to do is not turn it on.  So really, it is the art of just saying "no."

And "Yes," because we actually did it.  The intention was made, and the decision followed.  Bravo.

And what I realize is, this is something that can be applied to any part of your life.  You really are in control of your life.  In this case, where and how you choose to spend your free time.

And if you can control that aspect of your life ... what other changes do you long to make?  Perhaps with the additional quiet time now available to you, there will be more time for introspection and reflection.

And this can allow you to create the life that you have always wanted.  Or just follow your nose to see what the next surprising decision might be.

Just by turning off the TV.

Monday, February 11, 2013

On Fearlessness

Don't Fall, Tel Aviv, Israel, November 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
28mm, 1/500 sec @ f3.5, ISO 100, -0.3 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Stop!  Don't Jump!  Or Slip and Fall!  Or get accidentally pushed over the edge!

Do you ever have that feeling of vertigo when you get near the edge of a top floor on a tall building?  What is that exactly?  I'm not sure, but it does lead me into my topic today.

And that is fear, and its alternative, fearlessness.  It's something I've been struggling with a little just under the surface of my everyday existence.  

Things going well, life arranged as one had planned, financial situation comfortable, family situation wonderful, etc. etc.  Pretty much the definition of happiness.  And yet there is the small tingle of underlying fear.  Nothing grave.  Just that lingering worry that at any instant, something beyond your control could completely topple your well organized life.  A major illness, or an accident, or a financial scandal, etc.  (I know, this is the kind of problem many people, facing real tangible crises and challenges, would like to have.)

I think these fears are common, but my sense is they are preventing deep, abiding inner peace and contentment.  This morning I received this article on fearlessness by one of my favorite spiritual authors, Thich Nhat Hanh.   My plan is to reflect on it and see to what extent I can work on addressing this underlying fear.  We'll see how it goes.

Oh, and have no fear ... no flowers were hurt during the photo shoot ;-)

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Clowning Around

Clowning Around, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
72mm, 1/500 sec @ f5.5, ISO 100, -0.7 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I was walking around seeing the bubbles coming from somewhere, so I figured there must be one of those machines somewhere shooting out soap bubbles.  Well, in a way I guess there was.  Only this one was wearing a clown suit and using two giant fly swatters.  Pretty clever.

This was in the finish area of the 2012 Honolulu Marathon.  Everyone was hot, sweaty, thirsty, and tired, but this guy managed to bring a smile to people's faces.  Who doesn't love a clown?

So the next time you or someone else you know needs a little cheering up, break out that rubber nose and start clowning around.  Laughter really is the best medicine and pick-me-up.

Moon Rise

Moon Rise, Berchtesgäden, Germany, September 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
225mm, 1/100 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

It was a beautiful crisp morning, and this photo was taken right outside our hotel.  We were very lucky to have such nice weather.  And officially, it's a moon set, not a moon rise.

But as happy as I am with this photo, it is not really why I brought you here.  Instead, I think you will be amazed by this Moon Rise video below.  Simply amazing.  And here is the description about the video:

Full Moon Silhouettes 
Video Credit & Copyright: Mark GeeMusic: Tenderness (Dan Phillipson)

Explanation: Have you ever watched the Moon rise? The slow rise of a nearly full moon over a clear horizon can be an impressive sight. One impressive moonrise was imaged two nights ago over Mount Victoria Lookout in WellingtonNew Zealand. With detailed planning, an industrious astrophotographer placed a camera about two kilometers away and pointed it across the lookout to where the Moon would surely soon be making its nightly debut. The above single shot sequence is unedited and shown in real time -- it is not a time lapse. People on Mount Victoria Lookout can be seen in silhouette themselves admiring the dawn of Earth's largest satellite. Seeing a moonrise yourself is not difficult: it happens every day, although only half the time at night. Each day the Moon rises about fifty minutes later than the previous day, with a full moon always rising at sunset.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Stud Muffin

Stud Muffin, Ewa Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
105mm, 1/30 sec @ f5.3, ISO 560, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Perhaps not the photo you were expecting from the title?

Trust me, this old man (I think he's 15 years old or something) truly is a stud muffin.  As in $500 stud fees.  I'm not kidding.  We spoke with the owner when we were visiting our daughter in Hawaii.

So what do they say -- beauty is in the eye of the beholder?  Apparently so.  Beauty, and some earning potential ;-)

Dancing Sunset

Dancing Sunset, Tel Aviv, Israel, February 2013, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
300mm, 1/30 sec @ f13, ISO 1000, -0.3 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I'm not sure if you can easily see it in the photo, but look closely where the waves are crashing on the rocks, and you'll see the sunset dancing in the wave spray.  Cool.

But really I just wanted to use this photo to segue into this cool video I received a while ago of a sun that is truly dancing.  Now this is some amazing photography.  Note that this 17 second movie actually represents 4 hours of time-lapsed photography of this coronal mass ejection.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Before ... and After

Wild Stallion, Jaffa, Israel, November 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 50mm lens, 
1/15 sec @ f1.8, ISO 1600, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Now that is some impressive graffiti.  Certainly a talented artist made this mural on the side of a concrete bulding.  And I love how the artist ignored the depth and material changes in his "canvas".  I think it is really impressive.

Now if you take a look at the photo below, you will see what the building looks like without the mural/grafitti.

Now you might think this is a "Before and After" comparison, and it is.  However, the second shot is the "after".  Yes, for some reason, the building owner (I assume) decided to paint over the mural with this really attractive grey paint ;-)

Now I don't begrudge the owner doing whatever he thinks is needed.  Nor am I lamenting the loss of that great Wild Stallion mural/grafitti.  No, my point is that you must not assume things will always remain as they are.  Everything is impermanent.

That's not good or bad, it just is what it is.  So seize the day, and make your art while you still can.   Tomorrow, who knows?  Your mural may be lost, but everyone who has seen it will be the better for it.  And now look what you have -- another blank canvas.  What more could an artist hope for?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Catch It ...

Catch It, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, March 2011, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
300mm, 1/1600 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Catch it ... and then let it go.  You must if you wish to ride it.

I love this shot, with the wind so clearly whipping the waves in the back of the frame.

This was a red-flag day, and you had better know what you were doing to be out in the water.

But if you have the skill, and the guts, you might just have some fun.

Don't cling.  Roll with it.  Go with the flow.  You know what works.  And what doesn't.

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Unfurling

The Unfurling, Akaka Falls, Big Island, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
300mm, 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO 720, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Are you managing and controlling all aspects of your life?  Checking off your to do list?  Ensuring each day is crackerjack-full of productive activities?

Or are you letting your life unfurl before your own eyes?  Are you open and receptive to opportunities that might just be around the next corner?  Are you leaving space -- precious space -- during your day for something magnificent to unfurl?

We've been conditioned by time management experts and self-help gurus to shape our lives to fit our preconceived notion of success ... only to realize later in life that we may well have been sold a bill of goods (quite literally).  

What would our life be like if we followed our nose to see just what opportunities were ever-present that ignited our creative spirit, or touched the depths of our soul, or let us express our deepest compassion.

Life has its own way of unfurling, and will do so quite nicely without any help from us, thankyouverymuch.  Can we learn (or unlearn) to accept that unfolding, and consider what is the wisest response to each situation?  

You will be surprised the degree of peace that can arise from that unknowing, that lack of control.  Indeed, it is our desire to control our world that introduces tremendous stress and suffering (when things inevitably don't follow what we had in mind).  

So resign today from your envisioned job as master of the universe.  And watch the miracle of life unfurl all on its own.  And then ... be at peace.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Caught You

Shades 'o Green, Waimea Valley, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 300mm, 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO 180, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Are you conspicuous or inconspicuous?  Do you like to stand out or let yourself fade into the background?  There's no right or wrong answer.  Sometimes either action is required.

But I would make one recommendation.  Ask yourself what your motivation is.  What is driving the decision?  The particular situation?  Or the ego?

And if the latter, consider trying the alternative approach.

My observation is the ego can get you into some trouble.  It might just get you caught.  Camouflage is an excellent evolutionary development.  Give it a try, especially whenever you see the ego looking for some extra attention.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Stop Counting

Time to Stop Counting, Big Island, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
76mm, 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO 640, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I came across this T-shirt while strolling through Kona center on the Big Island with my family.  It made me chuckle.  And think.

I really don't think of myself as being as old as my birthday would indicate.  After all, it's just a number.  Rather meaningless, actually, when you realize the standard deviation around average life expectancy.

Kinda like dog years.  Those never mapped very well either, as far as I could tell.

They say you are as young (or as old) as you feel.  I think that is absolutely true.

So in case anyone asks, I'm 33 years old (and that's actually quite a bit older than I've been in the past). Yes, I'm a bit more mature lately.  But not too much.

And if you want to apply some other yardstick to yourself,  perhaps it's a good idea to use dog years for your age.  That way you are sure to be far from "average" ... in fact, you'd be well off the charts ;-)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Impressed, Big Island, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
78mm, 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO 1600, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

So are you?  Impressed, I mean.

No, not about the photo.  Although I have to tell you I really like this shot.  I was walking by an art studio that was closed, and saw this through the window.  What you might find surprising is that the piece is actually facing away from you.  It's the "negative" if you will.  And I really like the textures and the light.

But I was talking about you.  Are you "impressed?"

You know, with preconceived notions, parental biases, cultural taboos, and the like.  I would be willing to bet that you are, even if you can't discern them (much like the proverbial fish who can't see the water).  So the question isn't whether you can be completely unbiased or objective.  But rather are you tuned into detecting your biases before they cause you or others any suffering?

Take another look that the photo.  Imagine that is your impression.  And see how there is no person there now.  Imagine you have "stepped back" from the impression you just made, and now you can walk around it and truly examine it.  Now you can look objectively at both your perfections and your flaws.  And decide where you want to change, to grow, to improve yourself.

That's all we can do.  One day at a time, one step at a time.  And if we are guided by compassion, rather than ego ... well, then we just might make some progress.

And truly, I tell you, that would be impressive!