Reading your environment…

Visual clues can be found all around us if we take time to observe what’s different, not only in our environment, but in the people who can impact us.

It would be a grave mistake to assume that everything stays as it was—that time and events don’t alter our perceptions and guide our future responses.

I was reminded this morning of a boxer we had when I was a child. Neighborhood dogs seemed to target her, even though her breed was more than capable of dominating. One day she was beat-up, one too many times, by another dog. After that, she became the aggressor—a surprising change in a dog who’d been a gentle soul. She changed because events forced her to.

Glitter paths are a visual clue that, if read properly, provide information on how rough a patch of water is. For a sailor out on the water, it’s a valuable tool to use when plotting a course.

Adaptation is more important today than it ever was. Be observant to changes in your environment and never assume the person you knew then, is the same one you’ll meet today.

It’s better to be hated…

Why do people love to hate the magpie?

I must confess to spending a large amount of time watching and photographing these birds. Last year I was fortunate enough to observe the parents of a deceased magpie as they held a funeral for the chick they’d lost. A large crowd of these corvids gathered under a pine tree where the nest had been, and on the third day, I buried the body once the funeral appeared to have concluded.

Often the first thing said is that they kill other birds and steal the eggs. Sometimes. But they also clean up large amounts of roadkill and last year, played a roll in controlling the grasshopper epidemic that plagued us throughout summer.

Magpies are capable of understanding that a mirror image belongs to their own body—a cognitive behavior in animals so far only demonstrated by apes, dolphins, and elephants. Then again, they have an extremely large brain size to relative weight, even larger than the African Grey parrot.

I find them to be quite human excepting for their lack of artifice. And maybe that’s what I like about them. Unlike humans, they do what they do and they don’t pretend to be something else. I can accept that, even the cruel bits that I don’t like to observe.

It reminds me of a Mark Manson quote. It’s better to be hated for who you are than be loved for who you aren’t.

What path will you take?…

It’s that end-of-the-year-introspection time again! I’m coming down off the high of finishing (what they term winning) my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). My latest novel is well on its way, and yes, I wrote the ending—I like to know where I’m going.

The image above is representative of how I live my life. I like to remember where I’ve been, but I don’t need to see the past in vivid detail. Human nature isn’t kind—it’s cruel and selfish—the sooner one loses the idea that it’s anything other than that, the safer you become.

I stood looking back on our tracks in a landscape softened and muffled by falling snow and thought, silence truly can be deafening. It’s the perfect landscape for me. It’s calm, uncluttered, and contains what’s essential for me to be happy.

What isn’t seen in the image is the support that stands behind me. This year has brought immense clarity and I’m grateful for the people that are in my life.

I’m happy. We’re happy. Find beauty in nature. It will never disappoint you.

Twisted Words…

While exploring, we came across a church that had been in existence for well over a century. I couldn’t help but think how the words spoken here might have nourished the souls of these early pioneers settling in an unforgiving landscape.

I photograph and I write—two different yet connected mediums. Images take me on a visual journey of my world, while written words resonate deeply on the inside.

Both can be lies.

From the scale, perspective, and editing of a photograph, to the idea that words can be a crafted illusion of what we want to be true—that writing them doesn’t make them so.

We need to be better stewards of the truth and guard against swallowing the bitterness of others.

It’s a crazy world out there, one where isolation and fear has created a few monsters, and neither photographs nor words tell the whole story. A little extra kindness never hurts while the truth unfolds.

Choosing…

words.

pheasant walking away on a snowy road

walk away [wôk] [əˈwā]

a strategy for no-win situations

I enjoy conversations about human nature but have learned to curb my expectation that people can be something other than what they are. I love the words associated with this type of conversation.

intrinsic · fallible · flawed · inherent · nurture · behaviorism · causation · rational · biological · mimetic · potential · innate · entitled · narcissistic · gaslit · envious · manipulate · cognitive · dissonance · hoovering

They roll off your tongue but linger in the fetid air…

Human nature…

and the capacity for change.

People remain what they are even if their faces fall apart. Bertolt Brecht

He loves my work, just not the dead stuff.

We converse about human nature and whether or not there exists somewhere deep, the ability to change.

I don’t think so.

I do know that as important as it is to capture moments of beauty, the darker storytelling moments matter too.

It would seem the more that I try to understand human nature the less that I do.

He loves my work, just not the dead stuff.