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 ;-)


Anonymous said...

Very beautiful pictures.

I agree beauty can be found in almost anything. Like from that final fatal scene in American Beauty. Come to think of it, it's what makes words like "melancholy" possible. "Melancholy" means sadness, but with a slightly positive connotation to it. Like the nice feeling you get in the fall, even though it's the end of a period of warmth and prosperity. With our language we shape the world around us. So to the extent our language allows us to shape a model of reality which allows us to see beauty in "negative" things, a reality exists which allows us to easily live a life in a way which allows traditionally negative things to be seen in a positive light.

I think this is an important thing in life. Seeing negative things in a positive (or beautiful?) light allows one to make mistakes and/or incorrect decisions in a healthy way. It allows us to learn from them and while not going looking for trouble, laugh at our shortcomings and use them as a basis of improvement. Through risk we learn and evolve as human beings. Just as the baby which falls down while learning to walk, laughs at his mistake, welcomes it and learns. So too can we see the beauty of just about anything in life. Even an oil slick.

Steven Crisp said...


Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I love your reference to 'melancholy' and agree, it is a rich emotion.

Seeing 'negative' things in a 'positive' or 'beautiful' light implies (to me) detachment from the outcome. And presence/awareness in the moment. As I know you understand.

Again from American Beauty, as Ricky Fitts poigniently said (talking about a plastic bag, mind you),

"Sometimes there's so much beauty
in the world I feel like I can't
take it, like my heart's going to
cave in.