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.


Pat said...

Great photo(s), thoughtful words.

Steven Crisp said...

Thanks Pat. This poet -- Naomi Shihab Nye -- is two for two with me; I just may have to get one of her books.