Delusion…

a better state of mind?

snow covered peak is on a rooflineIt is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

Carl Sagan

I’m reminded of something that my optometrist once said to me as she marveled, you really don’t like your vision to be fully corrected do you?

Today I still find a lot of truth in that, I don’t want to see things as they are but as they could be and my cameras allow me that luxury.

It’s a constant struggle between the optimist in me and the voice of reality that roots for people to change and to somehow become what they’re really not.

But people don’t change do they? They are exactly who they are when the mask slips and you see what lies behind.

And no matter how much I would like it to be different, that beautiful snow-covered peak will always just be a roofline.

 

And the geek…

in me comes out.

clear transparent ice reveals the lily pads lying frozen above and beneath the surfaceWater is the key to life, but in frozen form, it is a latent force. And when it vanishes, Earth becomes Mars.

Frans Lanting

As temperatures continue to plummet all over the country I wanted to take a closer look at this image from a frozen spring fed lake.

It was captivating to stroll on the ice looking deep into its depths at the frozen tableau.

It feeds my fascination with water and how nothing is ever the same and each encounter shares something new.

This was congelation ice that forms underneath an existing layer of ice, building off the bottom. Then when the top layer melts, the clarity of the ice below is revealed.

And once again the natural world parallels human nature. Sometimes what you see on the surface doesn’t come close to what lies beneath…

Dwelling in…

conflict.

A used tire, coated in ice, litters the surface of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho while others lurk below the surface.
What Lies Beneath © Sheryl R Garrison

Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash.

Louis Aragon

Looking at this image makes me think that there really isn’t much hope for humanity. The simplest concept that the earth could go on without us but that we can’t survive without its natural resources seems to elude a large percentage of the population.

Perhaps those are the same ones that love to dwell in conflict. Where everything is never enough and the concept of accountability is just a word that’s too long to pronounce. The conflict becomes too intoxicating to put down and common sense falls by the wayside.

But I digress…

I”ll likely not be around in 50 years but those tires sure will be.

It’s (almost always) about the water.

Do you wear your sunglasses…

at night?

dsc_1461-editThe countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Beautiful words and a fascinating subject I’ve been exploring. Pupil dilation…perhaps the most important cue on behavior over which we have little control. They dilate in response to not just light but also in response to exploration and exploitation.

It wasn’t until photographing the kokanee during spawning that I realized that they died at the end of it and in this image, near death, the pupil was dilated.

Studies have also indicated that shuttering the pupil can have a detrimental impact on moral behavior by allowing a higher degree of perceived anonymity and my take away from that is to be far more wary of someone who keeps that feature hidden.

Social norms have taught us how to fake smile and feign interest but it would appear that there are clues that cannot be controlled…visual tells that extend far beyond the correlation of the smile reaching the eye.

I’m reminded of Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear, that I read years ago while involved with Search and Rescue with my bloodhound. He spoke about that situation where you’re waiting for an elevator, the doors open to a large man inside and your gut tells you to not get in but your mind worries about insulting the person inside that elevator. What would you do?

We ignore signals that could protect us from violence on a continual basis and I’ll be giving more thought to those who shutter their eyes without an obvious reason.

The disconnect…

that keeps you from being a better artist…

dsc_2437-editLearning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.

William Pollard

So many of my blog posts lately stem from some great conversations that start out having nothing to do with photography. Like this one about how we learn and how the ability to see ourselves or our artwork with any degree of objectivity molds our progress, dictates whether our work evolves or stays stagnant. Weighty stuff over a morning coffee perhaps but that’s exactly the kind of spark that ignites my creativity.

It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when you have supportive friends and family “liking” and “commenting” on your latest work. For me that’s an essential part of a supportive journey and greatly appreciated, but it has little to do with reality. The reality part is my responsibility.

This time of year I really like to take a hard look at my body of work and see how it’s grown over the year or even better, decade or more. That gives me the information that I need to continue to grow, to see the nuances in my work, and to be a better artist.

Some images still hold the test of time and can be pulled into current work easily while others show the importance of being able to turn a critical eye on your own work. We all have them, those ones from years ago that make you wonder what you were thinking. It’s good to have those reminders that hopefully show you how far you’ve come.

And that’s why some people move forward and create better work, while others stay exactly where they are. That disconnect in the ability to recognize what you do know and more importantly what you don’t because it’s recognizing that that propels your work forward and keeps you from stagnating in a pool of murky pond water.

Because you know…it’s (almost always) about the water.

 

On challenges…

and friendships.

dsc_3519-editYou’re going to find out who your friends are. Anything that happens in your life is one of those challenges. It may not be at the level of celebrity, but everybody’s going to travel that road.

Stanley A. McChrystal

There’s nothing quite like a divorce to give you clarity on the people in your life. I suppose the very nature of it forces choices upon people and that’s been the interesting part for me. And yes, I think it’s important to talk about this stuff, really important.

We’ve had some fascinating conversations lately delving into stories of friends old and new, and finding that while some have a “best by” date, others are the true definition of a friend. The experiences of the past two years have taught me things that I will use going forward and hopefully as a result, I will be a better and more supportive friend to those still in my life.  Interested in becoming a better friend?? Read on for three key points that could make a difference…

Top five most stressful life events include death of a loved one, divorce, moving, major illness or injury, and job loss. Any one these things can be extremely stressful, combine them and that’s really cause for alarm.

The narrative of the event can change and become something that no longer even     remotely resembles the truth.

We’ve both experienced this one where the reality gets white-washed with a fresh coat of paint and becomes the new, less incriminating version of what happened. Got a question about something? If you value the friendship at all ask, don’t assume that what you’ve heard is the truth.

Don’t know what to say?

How about a message or voicemail saying “Hi, I thought about you today, how are you?” We don’t always want to talk about “it” either, sometimes it’s nice to get out of our own heads and hear about what’s going on in your life. Moving forward from a traumatic event is an important part of healing.

Be aware that just because a person looks okay it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are okay.

Uprooting your entire life is tough stuff and the emotions go deep, some of us just hide it better. I’m grateful for my support team of friends who not only believed in me but looked after both my physical and mental health needs.

The image above was taken on New Year’s Day, one of the days that I make a tradition of photographing, often by myself in years past. For me it had all the right elements…bitter cold, blowing snow, and beautiful wintry colors. The symbolism of the empty road obscured in the foreground and vanishing into the distance was not lost on me.

Where some might see a bleak landscape I saw a clean slate, a road less travelled, and I took it, and as luck would have it I was with a friend.

He wasn’t a good dog…

he was a great dog!

Daunt-EditThere is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.

Simon Sinek

I’ve been listening to Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” and it is one powerful message so it comes as no surprise that this quote should pop into my head as I’m writing this.

This was a beautiful story and being the dog lover that I am, I never tire of hearing “Daunt” stories.

He had an exceedingly hard start to his life having been in the possession of a hoarder for the first four years of his life. A hoarder who was forced to surrender countless dogs kept in appalling conditions. Hoarding is a medical condition that manifests itself in many ways but the common thread is acquiring and refusing to part with “things”.

Having been involved in the clean-up of a home belonging to a hoarder, this story breaks my heart because we’re not just talking about stacks of paper and junk, we’re talking about living, breathing, animals kept in neglectful, abusive situations.

Unlike some stories though, this one did have a fairytale ending when one man took the time to visit the shelter on several occasions and gain the trust of this particularly challenging dog. One who did not like men, but bonded hard and fast with this man, surprising even the animal behaviorist on site to assist in the transitions.

Fast forward a decade or so and we find that sometimes our animal relationships are more enduring and balanced than those we share with other humans and sacrifices are made that are incredibly difficult.

They did not get to spend the last year and a half together, the decision being made that Daunt was better off finishing his life in the home that he’d known best. A home where he would still be cared for. A safe decision for a dog who’d endured so much trauma in the early years.

This photo was shared with me on their last visit together, knowing at the time that it would likely be the last visit.

I couldn’t be with someone who didn’t share my passion for dogs and even writing this brings tears to my eyes as I think of the strength it took for him to say good-bye to his dog for the last time.

Rest in peace, Daunt, rest in peace.