Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 1: Happy New Year 2011

Sunset in the Holy LandSt. Peter's Church, Jaffa, Israel, February 2009,
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, Focal length 7.56mm, Exposure 1/8 sec @ f3.5, ISO 200, no flash,
© Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Happy New Year everyone.  Did you celebrate?  Get to kiss someone?  Make any resolutions?

Here are my answers:  Not so much.  Yes, my lovely wife, Carol.  You betcha!

We stayed home, which for us is over here in Böblingen, Germany.  New Year's Eve in Germany (as in many places around the world) is celebrated with fireworks at midnight.  And our dog Frito is not a big fan of fireworks.  He shakes like a leaf when they go off.  

So we watched some TV, to drown out the sounds.  And covered him with blankets and kept him in between us on the sofa.  He did fine.

So what about my resolutions?  Well, here they are:

1.  Post a picture of beauty every day (right here, on this blog).
2.  Give something away every day (e.g., a donation, or to someone in need, or an unused item).
3.  Do some physical exercise every day (at least 15 minutes long).

And for the first item, at least, you can help keep me honest.  Or at least, check back and see what kind of pictures get posted.  In many cases, it just might be a picture without all this writing to slow you down ;-)

Well, let's see how it goes.  Here's wishing you the best in 2011.

  • Donation:  to Vegan Outreach
  • Exercise:  Running 11.11 miles (120 mins) (see next post for details)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What do you believe?

Face in the Wall, South Garden below the Castle, Prague, Czech Republic, May 2010,
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, Focal length 6.14mm, Exposure 1/50 sec @ f3.2, ISO 80, no flash,
post-processed with iPhoto © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I’ve had a feeling for some time. Twenty years, maybe more. But I wouldn’t call it a belief — I mean, maybe I am wrong. Who really knows, ya know?

But I think I just got a push. I mean, c’mon. Either you believe it, or you don’t. And what’s the worst that can happen — you end up changing your mind; revising your beliefs. That’s not the end of the world, right?

OK, so here it is. You know the expression, “You are what you eat”? Well, I’ve really come to believe that recently. My wife and I have taken the plunge. We’re all about fresh produce, avoiding any packaged foods. Thank God for my wife — she is willing to cook from scratch, and oh-my-God it is all so delicious. And healthy. We now buy organic. Cook with lots of fresh herbs and lots of spices. Really. I mean, it’s better to eat at our house (tastier and healthier) than dining out. Trust me.

OK, so what else is like that? What else do we consume on a daily basis? How about the news? How about TV? How about movies? How about video games (well, maybe not us, but our kids)? So here’s the deal: not only are you what you eat, but you are also what you read, what you listen to, what you watch, what you play ... you get the idea.

What food is to our bodies, so too is this external stimuli to our our minds, our psyches, and our souls. They are what we "consume" into our minds. So what are you consuming? Are you reading inspirational, motivational, reflective, wise material? Or are you gorging yourself on all that other garbage that is out there? You know what I’m talking about. It might be the message itself, or all of the advertising that surrounds it. It might be the gossip, the petty thoughts, the cheap shots, the sarcastic comments, the talking behind one’s back.

So how about trying a different approach? Find sources that speak to your heart. Cultivate those, and eschew those that taste bitter or spoiled.

Here’s a story I think you will enjoy. Please take a look and see what you think of this person’s incredible passion and heartfelt emotion. It reinforces my faith in humanity. And I know it is the truth. Or at least that is my belief. What is yours?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

A little mesmerizing

I thought this was a beautiful, artistic, and creative performance, and wanted to share it with you.  Indeed, when it was ending, I was wishing there was a "more" button that would allow me to see the next act.

I really find it amazing what some people can imagine, craft, perfect, and bring to life.  There is so much power in such an offering.

I hope you find this entertaining, and a little mesmerizing.

"Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent."

... Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What's the buzz?

What's the buzz?, Garden patio, Böblingen, Germany, August 2010,
Panasonic DMC-ZS7, Focal length 4.1mm, Exposure 1/640 sec @ f5.4, ISO 100, with flash
© Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Are you keeping up? You know, all that buzzing sound you hear? Are you plugged into it? You wouldn't want to miss a beat, right?

Well, here's the thing. When you step back, and see where all that buzzing is coming from, it's not from our friend here, but rather from the media, social networking, and good old-fashioned gossiping. Talking up who's right and who's wrong. Making sure you are suitably outraged by the talking-point that someone created that morning. Or, sadly, perhaps just giving into our fears and propagating their "advertisement".

You know that's what it is, and also what it is not. It's not deep understanding, calm reflection, or diving below the surface to find the substance of the story. Instead, it's superficial, here today / gone tomorrow, emotion-provoking, lizard-brain reactivity.

So choose your sources wisely. Tune out any that are not adding to the depths of your own personal insights. If you have begun to find that ever-present wisdom, and these hot-topics and themes are not resonating, trust your instincts. Tune them out, turn them off, and unsubscribe from those that do not have your sincere interests at heart.

And then you will be able to tune into the beauty and wonder of the everyday just this-ness of our world.

And that is something that will give you a very nice buzz.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The world goes round and round

Round and round, Frankenhöhe Nature Park, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, October 2010,
Panasonic DMC-ZS7, Focal length 4.1mm, Exposure 1/30 sec @ f3.3, ISO 125, with flash
© Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Do you ever feel as though you are going round and round in circles? Covering the same ground, the same issues, and having a hard time seeing forward progress? I've come to observe this largely as a matter of perspective. Sometimes one needs to step back from the situation and have a look at the bigger picture.

One could say that after thousands of years of civilization, and millions of years of evolution, we still find ourselves repeatedly stymied by wars and poverty and inequality. Yes, that's true. But at the same time, here's what I also see ...

I see a world growing more interconnected than ever before, with the internet, cellular phone service, on-demand video, and safe travel options, providing the opportunity for disparate cultures to meet and learn from one another. We even have some rudimentary tools, right here on Google, to help us translate between many foreign languages.

I see our own culture shifting, imperceptibly at first, but then before you know it, reaching a tipping point, and moving us leaps and bounds away from pervasive smoking, drinking and driving, homophobia, and the like. This is really remarkable when you recall the massive political, corporate, and religious hurdles that needed to be overcome. I thik it bodes well for many of our other sticky problems.

Oh sure, you might feel we might be turning backward from this month's mid-term elections (or finally turning around to where we belong ;-) But really, these are only the turnings of a small cog in the machine called Life.

Step back. Take a deep breath. And focus on all that is beautiful and wonderous and joyful in your life and all around you.

Painting with my pixels

Painting with pixels, Harz Mountains, Werigerode, Germany, October 2010,
Panasonic DMC-ZS7, Focal length 5mm, Exposure 1/30 sec @ f3.4, ISO 800, no flash,
heavily post-processed with iPhoto, © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

What is creativity?

Creativity is a spiritual spark. It results in the creation of something where there was nothing before.

That's magical stuff. An offering, if you like, to the world.

So much of our lives are spent as middle men ... moving papers from this pile to that ... or regurgitating other people's ideas and original thoughts.

There's not much heart in that.

So it is time to reclaim some space for creativity. It may not be much of an offer, but all that matters is that is your offer, from the heart.

And I hope to find that space, each day, to be able to create (or at least capture) just a little bit of beauty from this most amazing world.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Aimless Love

Bejeweled Beetle, Böblingen, Germany, September 2010,
Panasonic DMC-ZS7, Focal length 4.1mm, Exposure 1/640 sec @ f5.6, ISO 80, no flash
© Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Aimless Love
~ Billy Collins ~

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.