Friday, December 08, 2006


Sometimes I just sits, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, July 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/250 sec @ f4.6, ISO 64, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
My Aunt Maria asked me to read the life of Dr. Chalmers,
which, however, I did not promise to do.

Yesterday, Sunday, she was heard through the partition
shouting to my Aunt Jane, who is deaf, "Think of it!
He stood half an hour today to hear the frogs croak,
and he wouldn't read the life of Chalmers."

-- from Thoreau's Journal (March 28, 1853)
I laughed out loud when I read this quote. It is a rare person who can stand and face the familial expectations, cultural norms, and (especially in today's age) the media's pitch. But there is no other way to find your authentic self. And very few others really have that as a goal for you. They want conformity. They have roles to be filled. They need cogs to be well greased.

Do you hear or feel or sense that inner voice? It doesn't care about what others expect. It wants you to want to begin the journey. To search for the woodland trail blazed years ago, but now overgrown by the intertwined vines of rules and expectations, and the thorny brambles of indoctrination and conformity.

And if you think you might see it -- notice some signposts from a deeply covered trail -- then resolve yourself to clear the path. First and foremost for yourself, and then as a service to others that may wish to follow.
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

-- Thoreau, from the "Conclusion" to Walden

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dancing with the Wind

Dancing with the Wind, Sydney Harbor, Sydney, Australia, October 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/680 sec @ f5.0, ISO 95, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

It was a very windy day. Just take a look at the size of that sailboat, and its angle to the water. The crew have all hiked to the windward side, to counteract the heeling of the boat. Wind and waves were battering the many sailboats in the harbor -- it looked scarey to me, but clearly this was an exciting day for the sailors. One thing is for certain, these folks were fully engrossed in their task, and giving their all to avoid capsizing.
Divided You Suffer, United You Dance -- Osho

Do things with your whole heart, with as much intensity as you are capable of.

Anything done halfheartedly never brings joy to life. It only brings misery, anxiety, torture, and tension, because whenever you do anything halfheartedly you are dividing yourself into two parts, and that is one of the greatest calamities that has happened to human beings -- they are all split. The misery in the world is not surprising; it is a natural outcome of living halfheartedly, doing everything only with one part of our being while the other part is resisting, opposing, fighting.

And whatever you do with half of your being is going to bring you repentance, misery, and a feeling that perhaps the other part that was not participating was right -- because following this part, you have attained nothing but a miserable state. But I say to you: If you had followed the other part, the result would have been the same. It is not a question of which part you follow, it is a question of whether you go totally into it or not. To be total in your action brings joy. Even an ordinary, trivial action done with total intensity brings a glow to your being, a fulfillment, a fullness, a deep contentment. And anything done halfheartedly, however good the thing may be, is going to bring misery.

Misery does not come from your actions, neither does joy come from your actions. Joy comes when you are total. It does not matter what action you are involved in, misery is the outcome when you are partial. [...]

When your mind, when your heart, when your being is pulled in two directions simultaneously, you are creating hell. And when you are total, one, an organic that very organic unity, the flowers of heaven start blossoming in you.

People have remained concerned about their acts: Which act is right and which act is wrong? What is good and what is evil? My own understanding is that it is not a question of any particular act. The question is about your psychology.

When you are total, it is good; and when you are divided, it is evil. Divided you suffer; united, you dance, you sing, you celebrate.

What the heck does he really mean?

In the end, I think he means to trust your heart. Don't 'analyze', 'rationalize', or 'keep your options open'. Give all of yourself to whatever your endeavor. Remove self-doubt, break through the façade of indifference, and commit in spite of the risk.

Live as though today is the only day, and love as though you have found your true one, because indeed everyday and everyone should be just that. Give yourself entirely to the Now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Autumn Reflection

Autumn Reflection, Tucker Pond, Warner, NH, October 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/630 sec @ f4.5, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
The world is your mirror.

The good you find in others, is in you too.
The faults you find in others, are your faults as well.
After all, to recognize something you must know it.

The possibilities you see in others, are possible for you as well. The beauty you see around you, is your beauty. The world around you is a reflection, a mirror showing you the person you are.

To change your world, you must change yourself. To blame and complain will only make matters worse. Whatever you care about, is your responsibility. What you see in others, shows you yourself.

See the best in others, and you will be your best. Give to others, and you give to yourself. Appreciate beauty, and you will be beautiful. Admire creativity, and you will be creative.

Love, and you will be loved. Seek to understand, and you will be understood. Listen, and your voice will be heard. Teach, and you will learn.

-- Unknown author
Surely, this is overly simplified, perhaps even a bit Pollyanna, right? If there is injustice, inequality, and despair in the world, then what the world needs are acts of altruism, assistance, and activism, not self-indulgent naval gazing. Right?

I don't know. I find these to be powerful words, that strike in me a resonant chord of truth.

These ideas do not work well in the world of "them" and "us". If our goal is to manipulate, cajole, conquer, or exploit, then I don't recommend this be adopted as your manifesto. And of course, that is the point.

This reflects the great insights of all of the religious and mythic traditions of the world: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In any language, from many cultures, the so-called Golden Rule. And why is that wisdom universal? In our work-a-day world, because it is the only concept that will "scale". At the level of truth, because it reflects the inherent wholeness and oneness of the world.

We reflect others in our mirror, because that is the mirror of awareness. Awaken to that ultimate truth. You, and only you, hold that power deep inside.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sunset at sea

Sunset at sea, Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/361 sec @ f4.7, ISO 102, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
You are the endless sea
In whom all the worlds like waves
Naturally rise and fall.

You have nothing to win,
Nothing to lose.
You are pure awareness,
Nothing less.

You and the world are one.

So who are you to think
You can hold on to it,
Or let it go?

How could you!

-- Ashtavakra Gita 15: 11-12

"... You have nothing to win, nothing to lose ..."

Can you even imagine such a concept? You do not need to compete with your neighbor. No need to grab your piece of the pie before its all gone. Fear need not be the motivating emotion, and it can be replaced by compassion and acceptance.

"... You and the world are one ..."

Why would you compete with yourself? Why would you want to take what is already yours? You must see the truth of this. We are not separate individuals, nor are we separate from our environment. We are an integral part of the flow that is life itself.

These really are not "concepts", since conceptual thinking (and words themselves) imply the world of duality. Try to experience these realities, by living your life as if they are true. See if they don't resonate with something deep inside of you. What's the worst that could happen? You would be living more "gently" with your neighbors, and with the world itself.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Heart light

Loi Krathong Festival, Anantara Resort, Chiang Saen, Thailand, November 2005, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/15 sec @ f3.6, ISO 200, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
Turn on your heartlight
Let it shine whereever you go
Let it make a happy glow
For all the world to see

-- from the song Heartlight, written by Neil Diamond, Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager
I was lucky enought to visit Thailand a while ago. And lucky enough to have headed to the northern area, up near the border with Laos and Burma (now Union of Myanmar). And luckiest still to have been there in November, when Thais hold their "Loi Krathong" festival. Here is a brief explanation:

As the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (usually in mid-November) lights up the night sky, throughout the Thai kingdom, hundreds of thousands of ornately-decorated krathong or traditional banana leaf floats are set adrift in rivers and waterways in a spell-binding ritual called Loi Krathong - the 'festival of lights". This is one of the Kingdom's oldest and best-preserved traditions.

In the Northern Thai provinces that were once part of the ancient Lanna Thai kingdom, the Yi-peng Northern Lantern Festival is still being celebrated. Tubular lanterns, resembling hot air balloons, are lit and released into the night sky as an offering the Lord Buddha. As hundreds of illuminated lanterns drift into infinity, this conjures the same sense of wistful closure as the krathong float downstream.

I had the pleasure of participating in both types of ceremonies, but I must say that the the one pictured in the photo (a close up of the light-weight "balloon" as it lifts itself from its own heat) was most impressive. Throughout the week, different communities would celebrate on different nights, so if you were paying attention, you would see hundreds of flickering lights rising up into the starry sky, each time from a different location. Really beautiful and really moving.

I like to think of it as an expression of compassion offered from one community to all those who can see the slow-dancing heart lights, floating so gently, so peacefully, ever higher. Once released, this compassion will just follow the flow of the evening breeze, and we cannot be sure where it will go, and who will be affected by it.
"Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people."

-- Mother Teresa

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Watching the wheels go round

St. Ignatius of Loyola Dome, Rome, Italy, September 2005, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/5 sec @ f2.8, ISO 400, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

This is a spectacular dome, in a rather inconspicuous church in Rome. But when I look at it in this photo (compressed into two dimensions), I see a wheel. A beautiful wheel, but a wheel nonetheless. Perhaps that was becuase I was looking through my library for a photo to go with the song below.

You've probably heard John Lennon singing "Watching The Wheels", but have you ever really focused on the lyrics. They are amazing.

Have you ever considered stepping off the merry-go-round (of work, of consumerism, of the media), and just watch the wheels go 'round? Check out the lyrics below and consider reflecting on them during some quiet time:
Watching The Wheels
John Lennon

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball?

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

People asking questions lost in confusion
Well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions
Well they shake their heads and look at me as if I've lost my mind
I tell them there's no hurry...
I'm just sitting here doing time

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sun, moon, shadow, and time

Moonscape, Keoneheehee Trail, Haleakala volcano, Maui, Hawaii, February 2004, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/250 sec @ f5.0, ISO 64, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
The shadow by my finger cast
Divides the future from the past.
Behind its unreturning line,
The vanished hour, no longer thine.

Before it lies the unknown hour,
In darkness and beyond thine power.
One hour alone is in thine hands,
The now on which the shadow stands.

-- A poem inscribed on a sundial at Wellesley College

We were up there, with a gaggle of other caffeine-starved tourists, to watch the sun emerge ever so slowly from the moonless starry darkness, through imaginary caverns carved in the thin air of 10,000 ft with blackened hues of violet, indigo, and crimson.

Waiting, as time passed achingly slowly in this cold, windswept, but revered "house of the Sun", which is the translation of Haleakala. Muted whispers mix with chattering shivers as we wait to see the star of the show make his entrance, toying with his audience for greater effect.

Slowly, the footlights brighten, as a hush falls over the crowd. This morning there are but a few clouds, and so the star, now having ruffled the curtain a bit, burst forth onto the stage in an instant.

Almost too fast for our eyes to adjust, time seems to race ahead, surely at a different speed than just moments ago. Don't blink -- or you will miss it. Don't blink, and you may go blind. This is the closest I hope to ever get to witnessing a distant thermonuclear explosion -- which, of course, is exactly what it is.

And what of that sundial poem? Only this. Time is but a mental concept to place our lives and our world in a seemingly continuous stream of events. Did you know that your view of time, and my view of time are not necessarily the same, and are not linked to some abstract and absolute watchmaker or his timepiece?

Time is but a part of the space-time fabric of our universe, and each of us only understand time relatively. If you were to journey toward this distant star at any appreciable speed, strange things would happen to you and your clock (from my perspective), but everything about you would appear the same to you. To me, your clock would slow down (and to you, it would stay the same, and instead, my clock would speed up). Also, your mass and size would change (from my perspective) -- you would get heavier and wider -- more so the faster you traveled.

These are not imaginary, metaphysical constructs. If my twin brother returned from such a journey, he would indeed be younger than I. He would have aged less than I, according to my clock. And I would be older than he, according to his clock.

So what about that poem again? The only time that matters -- the only time where life exists -- is this moment. Each moment is fresh, open to your conscious appreciation. Past moments do not exist, except in your mind. Future moments do not exist, except in your mind. When you quiet your mind, you realize that any time we spend haunted by our past, or worried for our future, exists only Now, in this moment, in our mind.

It illustrates the importance of this moment. You choose how you will live your life in the here and now. You can either use your mind to reminisce (or be haunted) by the past, or you can dream (or worry) about the future. Or you experience the creative moment that is unveiling its glory at this very instant. When you are mindful of this reality, rather than the fiction of the continuum of time, you will experience the essence of life -- its richness, its beauty, the harmony, the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things, because in reality they are all one, born anew each moment.
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
no yesterday
no tomorrow
no today.

-- Seng-Tsan, “Verses On The Faith Mind”
In essence, you have billions of lives to live, each moment to moment. If you are dissatisfied with your current self, not to worry, for it dies in this instant -- to be reborn in the next. There is only one moment, each moment, to live this new life. How glorious will your next sunrise be?

Friday, December 01, 2006

What is the essence of Buddhism?

Daddy Longlegs, Amherst, NH, October 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/30 sec @ f2.8, ISO 160, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I hadn't realized how long it had been since I last posted. What a strange process -- devoted to daily posts one day, and then just drop it like a ton of bricks the next. Don't ask me to explain -- I cannot.

So to ease back into my blogging routine, I thought maybe I could augment my words and thoughts with selected quotes. Or just use them outright. We'll see how it goes.

My arachnid friend, looking at me from a dew-covered hosta, asks ...

What is the essence of Buddhism?
"Respect all forms of life, and then compassion and affection toward all sentient beings, with the understanding that everything is interdependent - so my happiness and suffering, my well-being, very much have to do with others."
-- Dalai Lama
Probably a smart philosophy for each of us, and is certainly appreciated by the little guy with really long legs. And also consider:
"In general the teaching of the Buddha is very vast and profound, it is not so simple as to grasp it in one time. If we had to summarize the complete teaching of Buddha we would see that all is included in two main points, that is:
• cause no harm to any sentient beings,
• always try to benefit all sentient beings; or, if we are not able to benefit others we should at least avoid all harmful thoughts and actions."

-- His Holiness Trijang Dorje Chang.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Are you a genius?

Laughing Reindeer, Nara, Japan, June 2003, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f5.6, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

OK, sorry -- he's not laughing at you given the question above. I just couldn't find a better photo for this post. But it is amazing how much he does look like he's laughing, doesn't it? Anyways ...

Just where does genius come from? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Genius can be mathematical or scientific, like Einstein, or it can be in the arts, like Mozart, and many other ways as well. Are these people simply born as geniuses? Are they just really smart, or is it that they have an ability to tap into something that the rest of us struggle with daily. Perhaps they are not as constrained as you and I, for some reason. Perhaps they are inspired -- “in spirit”. And can this capability ever come to us common folk?

According to an extract from this article, Orlando Serrell did not possess any special skills until he was struck in the head by a baseball when he was 10. He has remembered where he was and what he was doing almost every day since.

Serrell is what Treffert calls an "acquired savant," someone who exhibits savant skills after suffering a head injury or a stroke to the left hemisphere of the brain. Treffert believes the brain injury somehow frees acquired savants from the language and logic that rules our everyday lives. [emphasis is mine]. You will also read (and hear) about other savant's extraordinary skills at the link above.

"We tend to think of ourselves as having this blank disc in the marvelous piece of equipment called the brain, and what we become is everything we put on this disc. And I'm saying there is much more to us. That we come with software," Treffert says.

In short, Treffert says, there is genius in all of us.

Think about that — or perhaps don’t think about it. Instead, consider it, contemplate it, reflect upon it, imagine it, do almost anything but think about it using standard words and conventions. As Treffert says, try to free yourself “from the language and logic that rules our everyday lives.”

And then, perhaps -- just perhaps -- you too can have a taste of your own genius -- without even trying. Either because you can unleash the true untapped potential of your brain (for materialists), or because you are in touch with that which is the source of all inspiration (for the metaphysical among us).

In any case, why not try to unleash your real potential. Or just rest in the knowledge that more lurks beneath your superficial self. Dig, my friend, dig deeply.
Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius. -- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Invitation

Namaste, Tachileik Shwedagon Pagoda - Golden Triangle City, Union of Myanmar, November 2005, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/400 sec @ f4.5, ISO 64, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

This lady was sitting outside a large Pagoda just over the border of Northern Thailand (into what used to be called Burma). She was very friendly, and when I asked to take her picture, she put her hands together as if to say "Namaste". I've chosen this picture for an entry entitled "The Invitation".

Why? Because every day you will interact with people in one way or another. And each time you do, you are offered "The Invitation". This is your opportunity to express yourself and to find out about the other person. And when you do, I hope you take "The Invitation" seriously, and bring gentleness and depth to your interaction -- offering something soulful about yourself, and hopefully getting the same in return.

You've probably read this poem, I suspect. As I understand the story, it was written after Oriah Mountain Dreamer attended a typical dinner party, and felt the conversation was just too superficial (do you ever feel that way?)

Here it is, reprinted in full, as it is to me, very moving and very important:
The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tap, tap, tap

Tap, tap, tap, Old Delhi, India, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f2.8, ISO 180, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Your attention is focused on the road ahead — you need to navigate all manner of vehicles and pedestrians, going in just about every direction. And then as you slow down for an intersection, your attention is shifted from the windshield to the “tap, tap, tap” on one (or more) of your passenger windows. You imagine the request: “Hey Mister Westerner, how about some change for me? For my family? Please?” It was hard for this girl to see into our car, since the windows were darkened. So she stuck her nose up to the glass and tried to see inside, as well as to make herself known.

This is Old Delhi — a spider’s web of streets overlaid on a predominantly Muslim population. (India also has the 2nd largest number of Muslims in the world.) We had been advised earlier not to roll down our windows to provide any money, nor to buy from the street vendors hawking cheap trinkets and eager to test out their English in hopes of a few rupees. “If you give to one,” we are told, “they will quickly engulf the car.” A very strange situation. Do you look? Do you ignore? Do you try to help anyway? What would you do?

This situation is surely not the most grim in the world, but at the same time, it is unmistakable material poverty. It makes me think of this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, quality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, other-centered men can build up.
-- Martin Luther King Jr.
And what is it that makes me see beauty even here? What else ... our humanity. If you do not see, how will you be moved to consider this situation —- to decide what, if anything, you would like to do about it. Perhaps only accept it. Perhaps only be present for the suffering, for the stark difference in material wealth in the world. Perhaps only to wish for something better. Or perhaps to consider the current realities and expect something better for our humanity. And then perhaps to take one step -— one beautiful step -— to acknowledge, to understand, to feel compassion, and to move us upward, collectively upward, as we are most certainly capable of doing.

I see beauty in that potential -— in that intention. Don’t you?
Intention is the core of all conscious life. It is our intentions that create karma, our intentions that help others, our intentions that lead us away from the delusions of individuality toward the immutable verities of enlightened awareness. Conscious intention colors and moves everything.
-- Master Hsing Yun, Describing the Indescribable

Monday, September 18, 2006

A love that burns

Sunset through the trees, Christian Hill, Amherst, NH, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/200 sec @ f4.7, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Love is a powerful emotion. Indeed it is a powerful force. And very complicated, at least in our everyday lives. But really, very simple, right?

The love I’d like to consider — the one that can burn through layers upon layers of conditioning, of impoverishment, of heartache, and even through defeat — is unconditional love. Do any of us have the ability to offer such a powerful force?

It is the love that Jesus spoke of — offered even to your worst enemies, by your other cheek, because you realize that they are your best teacher, because this is your best weapon, and because you realize, deep in your heart of hearts, that you and your enemy are one. It is the compassion that Mother Theresa showed to the untouchables in the gutters of Calcutta.

And it makes me think of this poem, by the Sufi mystic Rumi:
O Love, O pure deep love, be here, be now, Be all;
worlds dissolved into your stainless endless radiance,
Frail living leaves burn with you brighter than cold stars:
Make me your servant, your breath, your core.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The art of disappearing

Translucent wings, Pickity Place gardens, Mason, NH, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/1050 sec @ f4.5, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Take a look at this dragonfly — if you can see him (click on the picture for a better look). His wings are 99 and 44/100% translucent, with only one cell of color on each. As a result, he almost disappears into the background. I think this is a useful metaphor for each of us as well. To counteract our cultural and societal messages of standing out at all costs.

We dress in bright clothing, or tatoo our bodies and color our hair. We paint on eye shadow and lipstick, and cook our bodies in the sun. We straighten and whiten our teeth for sparkling contrast to our tan skin.

And then we have our behavior. Push to the head of the line, try to find a “brand” to characterize what we, uniquely, have to offer. We raise our voices or our hands, we laugh loudly or whine or cry for attention.

I suggest that each of these measures serves to reinforce and amplify our ego, and serves to highlight our individuality. And I think that does not serve us well in the long run, nor humanity. And I offer to you this insightful poem, as you reflect upon the dragonfly as it blends into the background of life. And consider especially the last three lines of the poem, for which another photo might help you internalize.

The Art of Disappearing, a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye
When they say “Don't I know you?”
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say “We should get together”
say why?

It's not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

So much happiness

Rubber duckies, Tucker Pond, Salisbury, NH, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/540 sec @ f4.5, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I came across this poem today — sent to me like any other e-mail, easily lost to the junk folder or removed by a mindless delete key. But thankfully not.

Take a look at it. No! Taste it, consume it, bathe in it, relish it, savor its spices, cuddle in its warm embrace, lay down in its bed of truth, slow dance to its gentle rhythm, while you sing along with its lyrics.

For I have nothing to add. Just let happiness be -— you don’t have to do a damn thing.

So Much Happiness, a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
A wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
Something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
And disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
And now live over a quarry of noise and dust
Cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
It too could wake up filled with possibilities
Of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
And love even the floor which needs to be swept,
The soiled linens and scratched records….

Since there is no place large enough
To contain so much happiness,
You shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
Into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
For the moon, but continues to hold it, and to share it,
And in that way, be known.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What do you see?

Eerie Oilslick, Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, HI, February 2002, Sony Cybershot, Exposure 1/400 sec @ f5.6, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Now here is something weird. I knew I took a picture of this oilsick (over 4 years ago). Small amounts of oil or gas are still leaking out of the sunken battleship, the U.S.S. Arizona, from the attack on Pearl Harbor more than 60 years ago. The attack that brought us into the WWII, and killed 1177 men on this ship alone.

What I never noticed until now is the 'face' in the oilslick. Can you see it? It seems unmistakable, and the face looks anguished, like those souls lost in that fateful attack. That's kind of eerie, don't you think? [BTW, there was no clever use of Photoshop here -- this is just how the image came out of the camera.]

I didn't see this 'face' when I took the picture -- I just wanted to capture the sunlight on the oil-water mix. For it looked beautiful to me. The colors of the oil sheen change as the waves move back and forth. So every instant, you will see something different.

And that's a metaphor for life. Look in the moment -- right now, and "see" what you see. Relish that moment as eternity. Then look again. And again. In each moment, life will present you with new images and new perspectives. Train your eye to enjoy them all. The world, born anew, every moment you are aware.

Oh, and by the way. If you think that "face" was somehow connected to the Arizona, consider this picture below -- do you see all of the "diamonds" rising up from its rusing hull as reflecting the individual souls lost on board? Hey, I just take the pictures. You have to interpret the Rorschach tests ;-)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why do I photograph?

Chro-me-um, Milford, NH, August, 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/525 sec @ f4.5, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Recently, I've been asking myself: "self, why do you take so many pictures, and then why bother posting some of them to a blog?" And here is what I told myself.

The world is an incredibly beautiful place. Certainly the natural beauty, but also man-made affairs. Indeed, just about anything can be seen to be beautiful when not labeled, not judged, and just experienced. Yes, I think even dead things can be beautiful.

Sometimes it is the scale on which you observe the world. Most of us are rushing from place to place, we don't take the time to examine our surroundings, especially in detail. Life exists on a multiplicity of scales: cells, simple organsims, plants and animals, the garden, your town, visiting a new country, earth itself, and beyond. Everything we interact with exists on all of these scales at the same time -- we can choose to examine them from any perspective.

So I guess I am consciously taking some extra time to examine my world -- with my camera at the ready. I like to look for a unique angle, perhaps capturing an everyday object up close, or an interesting pattern. Look carefully, and I think you'll see beauty in there. It is not my photograph, but the world, that is beautiful. I'm simply the recorder. All you need to do is look, and I guess that is my contribution. I'm looking, and then sharing what I see.

So that is why I photograph. Even strange things like you see below. Because -- paraphrasing a famous song -- "sometimes you're the bug, and sometimes you're the radiator", but either way, it can be beautiful. Don't you think?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Butterfly Effect

Spread your wings, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, September 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/380 sec @ f2.8, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Have you ever watched a butterfly closely? So delicate, so graceful, so relaxed, so unhurried.

Why not spread your wings and follow its lead. Can you tread lightly upon this earth, floating from place to place? Can you offer a smile, and a kind word to everyone you meet, full of grace? Can you take a deep breath and let your mind settle down, and relax to your Authentic Self? Can you slow your tempo, and observe more of the world around you, patient and unburdened by those racing to and fro?

You see, it is that easy to become a butterfly yourself. Floating along, in wonder. Alighting here and there, barely noticed. Except that your radiance shines forth and catches some attention. And causes those who see to pause, and contemplate becoming a butterfly themselves.

And when you get stuck on the need to force a change in the world you see, remember the butterfly effect:
The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear (or, for that matter, prevent a tornado from appearing). The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale phenomena. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.

-- extracted from Wikipedia

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Howya doin?

Howya doin?, Amherst, NH, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/500 sec @ f6.4, ISO 50, with flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Hey there -- howya doin? Me? Oh fine, thanks for asking ... I'm just hangin around. Why? Just to get your attention -- to see if you are paying attention. Hey, go ahead and click on the picture so I can get a better look at you.

Now, can I offer you just one thought for your day? Here ya go ... Take care now, ya hear?
If you could get rid of yourself just once, the secret of secrets
would open to you. The face of the unknown, hidden beyond
the universe would appear on the mirror of your perception.

-- Rumi

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Another specimen

Another specimen, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/317 sec @ f3.6, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Look at how beautiful this one is. Another type -- I don't know what kind. Is this yet another for my collection? Do not worry, I'm just talking about photos. This one (and all of them) gently floated away when my camera became just a little too annoying.

But recently I read this quote from Ken Wilber, and though perhaps a little harsh, it does express my sentiments of organized religion versus spirituality:
When I was a youngster, and being the mad scientist type, I used to collect insects. Central to this endeavor was the killing jar. You take an empty mayonnaise jar, put lethal carbon tetrachloride on cotton balls, and place them in the bottom of the jar. You then drop the insect -- moth, butterfly, whatnot -- into the jar, and it quickly dies, but without being outwardly disfigured. You then mount it, study it, display it.

Academic religion is the killing jar of Spirit.

-- Ken Wilber, One Taste: November 24


Peeking, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki, Honolulu, HI, February 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/150 sec @ f4.5, ISO 64, with flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

He's peeking. You're peeking. I'm peeking. We're all peeking into a world so unimaginable, so undescribable, so undeniable -- it is beyond belief. Because it just is.

So as you catch a glimpse, glance in that direction, espy something deeper, gaze inward, and have a peek into this world, ask yourself just who is the "I" that is peeking?

“The inner growth is very still and very silent. You are growing, and even you cannot be aware of it unless something totally new happens and makes you aware that you have reached some space that was unknown to you. And that can happen any moment. On your part great patience is needed, and a trust that the whole existence is in support of all those who are trying to grow spiritually. It is not you who are trying to grow spiritually; it is existence who, through you, is trying to reach to its utmost heights.”


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Say 'ahhhhhh'

Say 'Ahhhhhh', Concord, MA, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/200 sec @ f5.0, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

There is something very pleasing about a beautiful flower, recently bathed in rainwater, and now illuminated by everpresent sunlight as the clouds move to and fro. Can you say 'ahhhhhh'? Just say it, and you relax a bit.

No, not the 'aaahhhh' when you visit the doctor and he looks down your throat. Not the 'aawwwhh' when you are disappointed that things did not go as you had planned.

But the 'ahhhhhh' when you slip into a warm bath. The 'ahhhhhh' when you snuggle under the covers and leave all of your cares crumpled in a heap with your clothes at the foot of your bed. The 'ahhhhhh' when you sip a full-bodied wine and twirl it in your mouth with your tongue. The 'ahhhhhh' when you smell fragrant flowers in your garden, and it brings back many memories of days gone by.

This delicate 'ahhhhhh' belongs to a Hibiscus that my mother-in-law planted many years ago. And while she passed on a few years ago, the beauty of her garden remains, and is rejuvinated every year. What a wonderful way to remember her.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, Agra, India, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/600 sec @ f5.4, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I know, I know, it looks just like a tourist photo, but I said I would post one, and I didn't really take any artsy ones. But the Taj Mahal warrants special note anyways -- it really is a beautiful building and landmark. And some of the stories surrounding it are rather interesting. For example ...

You can probably guess that the Taj Mahal is made out of marble, but did you know it is a unique nonporous kind of marble. That hardness both keeps the acid rain from destroying it, and also enables its embellishment with inlaid semi-precious stones over much of its facade. When you get close, you would think the designs and Arabic writing are painted on because they are as smooth as the marble, but in fact, they represent the inlay of millions of pieces of semi-precious stones and black marble.

The Taj Mahal is entirely symmetrical. There is even a mosque on the left side, and to keep the grounds symmetrical, they built a duplicate on the right side, but it isn't an actual mosque because it faces away from Mecca. Also, the king who built this tomb for his wife (she died in childbirth with her 14th child!), was going to build a contrasting duplicate of it totally out of black marble across the river, as his own mausoleum. But the king's son (and head of his army) felt that was just too extravagant, and instead had his father placed under house arrest for the rest of his life. So instead he was buried next to his wife, thus creating the only asymmetry of the Taj Mahal.

Anyways, I found it interesting, and worth the visit. Even though that did involve back-to-back four-hour drives between Delhi and Agra, and let me tell you, that is quite an experience.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blending in the background

Screen silhouette, Humayun's Tomb, Delhi, India, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/90 sec @ f3.2, ISO 200, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

This is another picture from Humayun's tomb. This "screen" is carved out of a 2" slab of marble. Each of the many windows had a different screen pattern. Interestingly, I did make it to the Taj Mahal (which I'll show later) and it was fantastic, but the screens there were not as nice as right here in Delhi.

I remember when I asked my coworker to take this picture. He said "you'll never show up, it's too bright." I said "I know, that's the point."

To blend into the background, to become part of the background, to dance between the light and dark. After all, that is what you are, part of the everpresent background. So stop trying to stand out. Stop trying to call attention to yourself. And notice the background presence instead. Be that presence.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Reflection in the grass

Reflection in the grass, Humayun's Tomb, Delhi, India, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/360 sec @ f3.2, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I'm traveling to India on business at the moment. After more than 24 hours flying, we arrived at our hotel in Delhi at 2:00 AM. Therefore, yesterday was considered a "rest day". But why rest, when you can get out and see a few sights.

The reflection shown here is of Humayun's Tomb to honor the eldest son of Babur, who succeeded his father and became the second emperor of the Mughal Empire. The tomb was built from 1562-1572. It is the first significant example of Islamic Mughal architecture with high arches and double dome. It is also considered the first example of the garden-tomb, which culminated in the world famous Taj Mahal (which I hope to see later in the trip).

I found this photo interesting, as they were working on the garden ponds, and therefore had to pump out the water onto the surrounding lawns. So from this waste, comes this art. To me it looks like a painting, and I can almost see the brush strokes and texture of the oil paint on the canvas. Take a look below, and see what you think.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Is it raining?

Rain on the sun, Garden pond, Amherst, NH, August 2008, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/180 sec @ f3.6, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Our dog Frito is usually our alarm clock. He wakes us up at oh-dark-thirty in the morning for a quick stop outdoors on his way to breakfast. Most members of my household would rather sleep. But I like to get up then. It is usually beautiful outside.

But sometimes it's raining, like on this morning. So I grab the umbrella and my camera (always my camera), slip on some sandals, and open my eyes. Still looks pretty spectacular to me. I can't find the sun in the sky, but it's right there, colorfully reflecting back the raindrops that fall all around, and pitter-patter above my head while I take this photo.

Yes, even when it's raining outside, I can't think of a better time of day, or a better place to be. With eyes wide open.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sunrise after the storm

Best time of the day, New Brunswick, Canada, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/140 sec @ f2.8, ISO 200, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

It had been a very stormy night. Blinding lightning followed by crashing thunder, the kind that rattles you out of bed, and freaks out the dog. It knocked out power, and made gulleys in the dirt. But we finally fell back to sleep, and when Frito decided it was time to brave life out from under the covers, this is what greeted us.

Isn't that just the way things are? Inevitable rocky, turbulent periods, followed by quiet, peaceful times that can help us recognize the beauty and the awe of it all. And then again.

Hey, while I haven't been posting too much over here lately, I have been busy elsewhere. You can check out some of my other rambling thoughts over at my Just Un-Do It blog.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

No worse for wear

No worse for wear, Garden pond, Amherst, NH, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/385 sec @ f5.0, ISO 100, with flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Look closely at his wings. Tattered gossamer. Can you see the small tears in the ends? I wonder how that happens. Did he narrowly escape being eaten by a bird, or is this just from doing dogfights too close to the cedar tree. I'm glad he made it. He's probably getting up there in dragonfly-days. They don't get to live too long. And even with their short life, their body begins to give way.

But to me he looks happy. Certainly no fear in letting me close to take this picture. He may be battle-scarred, but he is also glorious. Hey Mr. Dragonfly -- now you are immortalized.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What's the buzz?

Bee on Physostegia, Pickity Place, Mason, NH, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/430 sec @ f4.5, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I heard some buzzing, and then spotted this bee visiting a beautiful Physostegia plant. He would climb right inside each little bell-shaped flower, with no hesitation. So far in you couldn't even see him. Climb right in and get coated with pollen, and then crawl out and fly to the next one, and then another plant, and then he was gone, off to another garden I suspect.

I find it fascinating that our evolutionary process has developed such interdependent relationships. Wouldn't it just be a lot easier if each organism could "do its own thing", and propogate by itself? Why add in this 'messiness': the complexities, the dependancies, the possibly unfilled expectations?

Perhaps because diversity is essential, and is its own reward. To just keep doing your own thing can get a bit boring. Making little carbon copies of yourself wouldn't be very interesting, now would it. In fact, it would be the antithesis of evolution -- it would mean stagnation.

Doesn't that help illustrate the interconnectedness of life? You need the bees, to pollinate the flowers. (Yes, I know that is not true in all cases, just illustrating even more the complexity and diversity of the evolutionary process itself.) You can have an incredibly healthy, well pruned, properly fertilized apple orchard, but without the bees, you'll get no fruit (trust me on this one). And without fruit, they will not evolve. The next time some mite comes along to attack the apple trees, that will be the end of the apples.

I think it is the same way with people. You can congregate with those who share your beliefs, look like you, want the same things. But without a diversity of world views, you'll never grow -- never evolve. There will be nothing to upset your comfortable world, and you'll stagnate, and die out. You actually need the diversity.

We shouldn't fear differing views and opinions, even when they challenge our fundamental beliefs. We should recognize that by being open to these new perspectives -- by pollinating each other with our respective ideas -- we have the potential to move beyond our current world views. And this is needed for the good of society, the planet, and the well-being of mankind.

And I further think that the Internet (and yes, even blogging) can facilitate this exchange of divergent views. Never before has so much of mankind been able to have a dialog so easily. Yes, there is a very long way to go. But you can see that the seed has been planted. And now it grows.

But we have to decide how we will respond to these new world views. Will we each pull up our mental draw bridges and keep these different ideas at bay for as long as possible? Firm in our resolve of an 'us' versus 'them' conflict. Or will we welcome them into our minds, and take a moment to consider them, from their perspective, and perhaps see the world just a little bit differently afterwards.

This is not about accepting someone else's world view carte blanche -- it's about using it as a catalyst in our own thinking. A spark to light a fire of reflection. A seed that may germinate if kept warm and watered with contemplation. And a bell that gently rings, on occassion, to remind us to pause and consider the fundamental issues of life.

I think nature has shown us there is only one way that will work in the long run. We must evolve.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Making Sandcastles

Sandcastles to come, Waikiki, Honolulu, HI, February 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/375 sec @ f6.4, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Making Sandcastles -- Author Unknown (slightly edited version)

Hot sun. Salty air. Rhythmic waves.

A little girl is on sitting on the beach scooping and packing the sand with plastic shovels into a bright yellow bucket. Then she upends the bucket on the surface and lifts it. And, to the delight of the little architect, a castle tower is created.

All afternoon she will work. Spooning out the moat. Packing the walls. Bottle tops will be sentries. Popsicle sticks will be bridges. A sandcastle will be built.

Big city. Busy streets. Rumbling traffic.

A woman is in her office. At her desk she shuffles papers into stacks and delegates assignments. She cradles the phone on her shoulder and punches the keyboard with her fingers. Numbers are juggled and contracts are signed and much to the delight of the woman, a profit is made.

All her life she will work. Formulating the plans. Forecasting the future. Annuities will be sentries. Capital gains will be bridges. An empire will be built.

Two builders of two castles. They have much in common. They shape granules into grandeurs. They see nothing and make something. They are diligent and determined. And for both the tide will rise and the end will come.

Yet that is where the similarities cease. For the little girl sees the end while the woman ignores it. Watch the girl as the dusk approaches.

As the waves near, the wise child jumps to her feet and begins to clap. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. She knew this would happen. She is not surprised. And when the great breaker crashes into her castle and her masterpiece is sucked into the sea, she smiles. She smiles, picks up her tools, takes her mother's hand, and goes home.

The grownup, however, is not so wise. As the wave of years collapses on her castle she is terrified. She hovers over the sandy monument to protect it. She blocks the waves from the walls she has made. Salt-water soaked and shivering she snarls at the incoming tide.

"It's my castle," she defies.

The ocean need not respond. Both know to whom the sand belongs...

I don't know much about sandcastles. But children do. Watch them and learn. Go ahead and build, but build with a child's heart. When the sun sets and the tides take - applaud. Salute the process of life and go home.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Ripples on the Surface of Being

Ripples and Stillness, Ala Moana Park, Honolulu, HI, February 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/240 sec @ f4.7, ISO 102, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

It's been a while since my last post. Sorry about that. Work-stuff got in the way. And increasingly that feels like a competition for time -- at least for quiet time, in the morning or in the evening -- when there is nothing else to think about. Or time to spend outdoors in nature. Time that becomes no time. Timeless time. Only experiencing the present moment.

I am reading the latest edition of the magazine What Is Enlightenment?. It is a recollection of selected articles over their 15 year publishing history. And right in the middle I came to an interview between Eckhart Tolle and Andrew Cohen. You can read that interview, entitled Ripples on the Surface of Being, if you are interested.

There is something about Eckhart Tolle that really reasonates with me. He seems to have a very simple way of relating the material world that we all live in to the unmanifest ground of being from which the world emerges. The metaphor he uses here is that the material world is "real" insofar as it is a small part of the vastness of being, like ripples on the ocean are a part, but only a small part, on the surface of its vastness.

He also clearly articulates that you can get in touch with the unmanifest simply by being present in the moment, and by surrendering your egoic wants and needs through being open to what is unfolding Now. He also makes clear that this work on the self -- enlightenment, transcendance, egoless being, or whatever term you wish to call it -- can happen at any point in time, whenever you are ready. It need not wait another day. You can read about the little epiphany I had based on my could-not-put-it-down read of his most famous book, The Power of Now.

There are many other take-aways, but instead I commend the article to you as a worthwhile read. So many sages and thinkers can be hard to uderstand and fully appreciate. I think Eckhart Tolle just speaks from his experience, and his curent state of awareness, and is very easy to understand. Good reading.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Noble dominos

Noble Dominos, Arlington Cemetery, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/560 sec @ f4.6, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Can you hear them cresting, breaking?
In a sea of green, who has not sinned?
All around me, white-capped warriors
And yet there is no wind

It is ghostly calm and quiet
Such a contrast to the battle call
Rows and rows of noble dominos
In distant lands began to fall

Hear them pray to their God, their savior
Different names they each call out
As they exhale their final breath
The mason’s chisel leaves no doubt

Here they rest, so brave, so honored
Now they’ve paid the ultimate price
Was it worth their final journey?
Did you feel their sacrifice?

Can we really keep the peace
By waging battles bravely fought
As our brothers, sons, and fathers
Reap the victory that we sought

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Silent Warriors

Silent Warriors, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/360 sec @ f4.7, ISO 122, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

They have invaded my land, these silent warriors
They fly in formation, their aerial acrobatics
High G maneuvers, mixed with delicate hovering

Freed from the water, do they remember their former selves?
Is that why they dance in the air, samba and cha-cha with the breeze
So beautiful (and grotesque), when will we look beyond the surface?

They seem coy, as I call to them,
Please rest here and let me see, the iridescence of your gossamer
And stay safe, wary of your enemies

While you hunt, you are also hunted
What is this life, this struggle?
It is good, is it not? (Given the alternative.)

Oh sweet nectar, call your companions
This symbiosis, that enables all of life
It is whole, and inextricably linked

Judge not one part, lest you judge yourself
Harm not one being, lest you harm yourself
And struggle not, but if you must fight

Arm yourself well, as you walk into battle
You will need something, that can conquer
Disarm your enemy, with only love and compassion

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Standing still

Standing Still, Garden Pond, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/560 sec @ f4.5, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp
[Note: as of yesterday, I've started to upload full size photos to Blogger, so if you want to see more detail in this (and subsequent) photos, just click on the photo]

Do you have a place where you can go and just "be" with nature? To stand still and observe all that is alive around you? To soak in the colors from an indescribable pallete. To bathe in warm breezes and drink in sweet nectar?

Please find your place and go there. Spend quiet time there, at least some of it alone. With nothing to do, and no where else to be. Hear nature sing to you. Let her embrace you, put her arm around your soul.

It makes me think of this poignent poem. Be aware of the world around you, and all of its mysterious beauty.
And A Meadow Lark Sang

"The child whispered, 'God, speak to me'
And a meadow lark sang.
The child did not hear.

So the child yelled, 'God, speak to me!'
And the thunder rolled across the sky
But the child did not listen.

The child looked around and said,
'God let me see you' and a star shone brightly
But the child did not notice.

And the child shouted,
'God show me a miracle!'
And a life was born but the child did not know.

So the child cried out in despair,
'Touch me God, and let me know you are here!'
Whereupon God reached down
And touched the child.

But the child brushed the butterfly away
And walked away unknowingly."

-- Ravindra Kumar Karnani
And of course these opening lines by William Blake (from Auguries Of Innocence):
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Magical Place

A Magical Place, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/1818 sec @ f8.0, ISO 50, with flash, color adjusted in iPhoto © Steven Crisp
[Note: as of today, I've started to upload full size photos to Blogger, so if you want to see more detail in this (and subsequent) photos, just click on the photo]

I live in such a magical place. And it makes me think of Lucy, even without drugs, really.

And now with so many apologies to the Beatles ...
Picture yourself as you float on a pond,
With tangerine cattails and pink dragonflies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

Cellophane flowers of orange and green,
Towering over your head.
Look for the bee with the sun on her side,
And she's flown.

Stevie on his back with his camera.
Stevie on his back with his camera.
Stevie on his back with his camera.

Follow her down to a bridge by the outlet
Where bumble bee giants eat pollen for pies,
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers,
That grow so incredibly high.

Frito the terror appears on the shore,
Waiting to catch frogs all day.
Lay on the ground with your head in the clouds,
And you're gone.

Stevie on his back with his camera.
Stevie on his back with his camera.
Stevie on his back with his camera.

Picture yourself in a chair on the water,
Where evergreen bullfrogs eat looking glass flies,
Suddenly someone is there in the garden,
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

No eating in bed

No eating in bed, Amherst, NH, July 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f3.0, ISO 64, no flash, super macro © Steven Crisp

Since we are on a sex theme, I thought I'd get this one out of the way as well. These are Japanese beetles, making mince meat out of our cherry tree, and just having a grand old time. No shame. Group sex. And boy do they eat. All of the succulent parts of the leaves, such that only the veins remain.

Now if only the Purple Martins that have taken up residence in our yard had a taste for Japanese beetles, that would be very satisfying indeed. And maybe they could leave our dragonflies alone?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bee Bomb!

Bee Bomb!, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, July 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f3.0, ISO 64, no flash, super macro © Steven Crisp

A little racy, yes? Now I know why they call the plant Bee Bomb (I know, I know, it's not spelled that way ;-) These two are certainly having a bomb of a time.

Ah, evolution in progress. All creatures embrace the flow. It is their natural state -- our minds tend to get in the way. Can you find ecstacy in the garden? Smell the delicate earthy fragrance. Open your eyes to nature's rich, oily palette. Feel her warm, tender petals. Taste the rich, luscious nectar. Sense the buzz of life all around, and become electrified.

You only have to Be and you will have your balm.

Don't Do the Dew -- Be the Balm. And Go with the Flow.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cute and furry

Chipmunk and Daylily, Amherst, NH, July 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f4.6, ISO 200, no flash © Steven Crisp

Now here's something you don't see everyday. I had no idea that chipmunks liked to eat daylily flower petals. Maybe it's time to consider going vegetarian.

The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, July 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/125 sec @ f7.7, ISO 64, with flash © Steven Crisp

I was walking around our little garden pond today and look what just happened to be stuck to the underside of one of our pond plants! My own little biology class ;-) I assume this is some sort of dragonfly undergoing a metamorphasis from larvae (actually, properly called an aquatic nymph) to adult, but I have not been able to confirm that -- all you entimologists are invited to offer your insights.

Evolution is certainly an interesting process, and dragonflies have been around in one form or another for over 200 million years, continuing to perfect that branch of the evolutionary experiment. It has resulted in some measured excellence -- for example, dragonflies are the fastest insects on earth, capable of flying over 60 mph. And their eyes have over 30,000 facets giving them excellent vision over nearly 360 degrees. I wonder if this is a picture of one adult from the same order.

As I was looking on the internet for some information on what type of critter this might be, I finally found a link that showed time sequenced photographs of the metamorphosis, and found out that this transformation from aquatic nymph to flying adult takes only a few hours. Alas, when I went back to watch my nymph more closely, she was gone -- perhaps already having flown away. How can such a dramatic transformation -- in physical form as well as physiology -- take place in such a short span of time?

You know, I always had this image in my mind of aquatic nymphs, which look just a little different than this bug. I think I like John William Waterhouse's image a little bit better. Which would you prefer to find in your pond?