Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!


Make your own fireworks, Jaffa, Israel, April 2008, Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f3.5, ISO 200, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

This photo comes from the Old Port City of Jaffa, just south of Tel Aviv, Israel. I was walking through the old alleyways, in amongst the shops, and I came upon this painting, unceremoniously hung on an outside wall.

Not for sale. Just for decoration.

Indeed, the shops had closed, and the painting remained open to the elements and to anyone's mischievous hands. What a wonderful gift.

I love all the colors, and imagine them, tonight especially, as my own personal fireworks display.
"Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can." -- Danny Kaye
I would also like to share with you this simple list I collected somewhere along one of the alleyways in my own life.

To me, it is like one of those quick-use guides to the game of life, meant to help those who have no patience for the thick instruction manual printed in so many languages, replete with warnings and alerts, when all we want is to start playing with our new gizmo.

Very well then. By all means. Let the games begin.

Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Laugh.
Choose with no regret.
Continue to learn.
Appreciate your friends.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.


-- Mary Anne Roadacher-Hershey

It is my profound wish that each of you find peace and harmony during your journey into this Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Vantage point

Vantage point #1, St. John's Church, Old Acre, Israel, September 2008, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 90mm, Exposure 1/800 sec @ f7.1, ISO 200, exposure bias -4/3 stop, no flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

So how is your vantage point? Do you have a good place from which to view your surroundings?

You know, that which you see and how you see it is very much affected by where you sit. By how you were raised. By your parents ... your friends ... your culture. By your own attitudes and perspective.

For example, you might see the photo above and think -- well the sun is surely setting upon that religion. Simply a shadow of what it once was.

Or you could change your vantage point, and then you would have the view below. Maybe now it looks like the sun is rising and brightly illuminating that profound belief.

Vantage point #2, St. John's Church, Old Acre, Israel, September 2008, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 50mm, Exposure 1/250 sec @ f8.0, ISO 200, exposure bias -4/3 stop, no flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Either way, it's all in how you look at it. And what meaning you ascribe to it. Be careful of ascribing judgment. For it is probably just based upon your vantage point, which can very easily change, if you are willing to move around a bit.
Let him who would move the world first move himself.
-- Socrates

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

With eyes to see ...

Starfish, Coos Bay, Oregon, May 2008, Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, Exposure 1/250 sec @ f14.0, ISO 60, with flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Take a close look at this picture. First, can you tell what it is? Well, I guess the title gives it away -- that's right, these are different colored starfish attached to a rock jetty along the Oregon coast.

Now go ahead a look a little closer. Examine the textures, the colors, the undulations, and then, right there, in the upper left hand quadrant. Do you see it? I didn't notice it until I was looking at the picture. It's a starfish eye! I didn't even know they had eyes. And it's looking right back at you! Wow. (You may need to enlarge the photo to see it -- just click on it.)

It is amazing to me when we stop and appreciate all that we see from moment to moment. It's hard to express just how grateful I am for this present moment.

And so I wanted to share this five minute video I just came across. I think its message is right on the mark, and its imagery is excellent, and its music soothing. Please enjoy, and I hope that you are simply grateful that you have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Let yourself dissolve


Sparkling Ripples, Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming, May 2008, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 80mm, Exposure 1/200 sec @ f18, ISO 200, exposure bias -2/3 stop, no flash, circular polarizing filter, color and contrast adjusted in iPhoto. © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Such a simple concept. No. Such a powerful action.

Let yourself dissolve. Just let your "self" dissolve.

Not by any effort. Rather, lack of effort.

Simply be. And then you will know.
Like bubbles in the sea,
All the worlds arise in you.

Know you are the Self.
Know you are one.

Let yourself dissolve.

You see the world.
But like the snake in the rope,
It is not really there.

You are pure.

Let yourself dissolve.


-- Ashtavakra Gita 5:2-3

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sunset upon clouds


Sunset Upon Clouds, Nolin Lake State Park, Kentucky, June 2008, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 18mm, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, exposure bias -1.67 stops, no flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Ah, there is that sunset again. And this time it's igniting those beautiful clouds in the foreground.

Trace back those rays, and perhaps you can see the cauldron of creation itself.

Squint your eyes in the brightness, and see the cloud tips being dabbed with light, and ripples being painted upon the lake.

Is there anything to do but smile? Surely such a scene will lift any spirit:
Sometimes I go about pitying myself
And all the while
I am being carried across the sky
By beautiful clouds.


-- Ojibway Indian Poem

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Desperately Seeking Sunsets

Scorched Sky, Cedar Pass, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, May 2008, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 120mm, Exposure 1/200 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, exposure bias -3.00 stops, no flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

So where do you go to find your sunsets? Are they just outside your kitchen window? Perhaps a few steps outside your back door? You are lucky indeed when that occurs, but what about some exploration?

Why not venture out? Follow that trail that leads to who-knows-where? Go somewhere you’ve never been before.

Watch the sun as it looms low on the horizon. Playing with the sky; dancing with the clouds. See how the canvas is brushed over and over, as if by an artist in search of that perfect color.

Be prepared, but do take the risk. After all, the sun is setting, and soon it will be dark. And you still have to find your way back home.

Vanishing Sun, Castle Trail, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, May 2008, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 62mm, Exposure 1/1000 sec @ f8.0, ISO 200, exposure bias -3.67 stops, no flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

But oh, that luscious twilight. The hour or two after the sun dips below the mountain peaks. What a glorious time.

Watch the mountain bluebirds as they take flight, as if to celebrate the dusk. Enjoy the pronghorn deer as they stroll and graze into the setting sun. Listen to the spring peepers as they revel in the cool, moist fading light. A communion, as it were.

Life itself is being created. Right here, right now. Keep your eyes and your ears open; better still, keep your mind and your heart wide open.

And may you glimpse a beautiful sunset, every time the spirit moves you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Simple Majesty

Simple Majesty, Grand Teton National Park, May 2008, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 26mm, Exposure 1/500 sec @ f4.0, ISO 200, exposure bias -2/3 stop, with flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I'm on something of an adventure these days. Taking two months off from work to travel across country in our new-to-us RV. You can read more about that at these blogs if you are interested: Thistle Dew Too and Frito-a-Day.

We were in Yellowstone National Park, and considering heading down to Grand Teton National Park the next day. I asked a campground employee who had spent time down there what to see. One of the things she mentioned was this chapel. In her words "if you can't see God looking through its window, you won't find him anywhere."

I didn't really know what to expect. Some sort of a magnificent church built in the mountains? Spectacular stained glass windows? Ornate hand-carved pulpit and pews?

Humble Worship, Chapel of the Transfiguration, Grand Teton National Park, May 2008, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 18mm, Exposure 1/250 sec @ f8.0, ISO 200, exposure bias -2/3 stop, no flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Nope. It was just this very simple log cabin, with its rustic pews and plain cross, set to look upon the simple majesty of the Grand Teton mountain range. And in those magnificent snow covered peaks and my imagination of the hardy pioneers that built this chapel, I was sure I could see God's handiwork.
"... in the presence of this magnificence and grandeur, some small hint of that eternal majesty is conveyed to us who pause and, in quiet, worship ..." (from a plaque at the chapel entrance)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Life in the snow


I was out for a run the other day, and came across this bucolic sight. With the sun dipping over the tree-line, a warm glow was cast upon this snowman. Look at the character in his face. His animation, his decoration, his mannerisms. He looks almost alive. Sure glad he has on those shades to protect his eyes from the setting sun. Such artistic details on a simple snowman. Mmmm, those marshallows look like they are yummy.

But wait there was more -- much more.

An entire snowfamily had been created out of that frozen white stuff. Check out these photos:


This dapper fellow is decked out in the traditional top hat and scarf.


Here's a clever father and son. Their creators are nothing if not imaginative!


Here you can see what they are all up to. They are roasting marshmallows over a snowball fire! Ha!!

I was enthralled by the display. What a gift to offer the many passers-by. And I'm sure for the family that helped bring them to life.

But it brings along another useful lesson, I think, of impermanence. Since taking that run, we've had temps reach into the 50s and received about 2 inches of rain. You can imagine that this snowfamily is no more. And you know their creators realized this inevitability. And yet they created this display anyways. For the sake of creation itself, not for the (perceived) permanence of the creation. Is that not a lesson to us all? The art, the beauty, the joy is in the moment ... in the creative act itself.

And what of this snowfamily? Where did it go once the rains came? It simply went back to its source --turned once again into water, bringing life to others downstream.

And what of their accoutrements? Packed away, I expect, for another cold snowy day. When a new family can be brought to life. And to help add the zest of life to their creators.