” It was almighty still. I could hear the chuckle of the water in the creek some distance off, and once in a while a horse shifted his feet in the corral. I guessed that the fire had gone out or died down because smoke no longer came from the cabin that did duty as a bunkhouse. The door gaped open, a black rectangle that suggested a place a body could hide and stand off a crowd, but I liked the open where a body could move.”
“You know something? It was beautiful. So still you could hear one aspen leaf caressing another, the moon wide and white shining through the leaves, and just above the dark, somber spruce, bunched closely together, tall and still like a crowd of black-robed monks standing in prayer”
Ride the Dark Trail by Louis L’Amour, 1972…one of his 100 novels. He also wrote 250 short stories and has sold 350 million copies of his work with 12 books made into movies).
Ever feel lost in a crowd…a faceless bystander watching the world go by ?
Looking, but never seeing…life slipping away ?
Often, in my travels, I pass farm animals of various kinds. One thing they all have in common is ‘looking’. They are intrigued by what is passing in front of them…just like people.
However, I don’t believe they feel like they are missing out…unlike people.
Sometimes I think I should be more like our farm friends who often appear like silhouettes, but in actuality are experiencing (enjoying) life one day, one moment at a time…easier said then done, but not impossible.
As I travel rural areas of eastern Kansas, I come across many farms with barns. Some barns are old and dilapidated and some newly constructed. Most have stood for several generations and are still in regular use…these are the ones with the modern quilt design plaques.
I am intrigued by the newer generation of farmers and ranchers who want to spruce up their property with this attractive art form. Whomever started this mini-craze has successfully marketed their product in this region. I wonder if one can find these plaques in other parts of the American landscape.
Not all barns are stained red, but this seems to be the prevailing color. The older barns are mostly faded gray wood. There is something special about these old structures. For me, they conjure up thoughts of a simpler, more physically demanding time…one which dreamily seems to have been more satisfying.
We fondly look to the past, recalling care-free days filled with fun, laughter, friends and family. Our first kiss; most memorable car; best friend; beloved pet(s); dreams of travel and adventure, and on-and-on the list goes. We look at the gilded past through diffused lenses. Unless our coming-of-age-days were horrible (and for some they were) we weed-out the unpleasant things and recall the good things. We all had some bad stuff.
Life is a toss-up of sorts: a mix of greens, veggies, toppings we can and can’t always discern, cheeses, maybe select meats, and usually coated with a dressing of choice. Sometimes we separate the items we don’t like and eat the ones we do. Or, we eat all of it and recall the unique sensual flavor of every bite. Nostalgia is like a salad.
Nostalgia can become a futile exercise. What I mean is that if we view the past through rose colored glasses and consistently recall the days of yore to be nothing but blissful moments of joy, we short-change ourselves in the present. I have very fond memories of my formative years, raising our children, and my continuing love affair with my wife. I am deeply grateful I have them. Although the years were/are ripe with many difficulties, challenges, struggles and sorrows, my fondness for these days rests upon the happy and joyful moments.
Interesting to me that the span of tough times seem to have been pretty much an underlying constant while the positive recollections only snapshots, but that is how my mind works. The moments of quality overcome the quantity of monotony and struggle. I suppose this is a psychological survival dynamic given to us by a benevolent and loving God.
Recently, my thoughts have focused on my failures and mistakes. No optimistic clichés, please. I have read and stated most of them. I understand the power of positive thinking. My mind simply chooses to wander into dangerous territory. I remind myself that life’s circumstances have shaped me into the man I am today. The past doesn’t define me, but it has affected me. So, I choose to push aside the distasteful parts of my salad and eat with gusto the yummy ones. And, I look forward to the next appetizer. Consider this a note to self.
I came across these images via different Pinterest posts. I don’t know the artists, but kudos to them for creating such dynamic and striking art. The lion seems to have been created by some type of digital software (just a guess) while the post title for the two fish states they are made of y a r n !
In a world which is tainted by hatred and animosity and seems to be driven by fear, we seek refuge from the darkness in manifold ways. Whether solace is found through what we see, hear, read, smell, feel, think or do, escape for even a moment can be beneficial. This is why I share these two images…simply to enjoy viewing them for a moment.
The problems we face today are not new-they just manifest themselves in different ways as a result of national and global dynamics. I believe solutions will be forthcoming, but we must not fall into the mindset that they will be easy. “One size does not fit all”.
I also believe that It will be beneficial for each of us to learn from the past, keep an open mind, turn off the hostile social rhetoric and relearn how to be civil towards one another. Years ago a police officer pulled me over for a driving violation (of course, I didn’t think I did anything wrong), He said, “Son, ignorance is no excuse”. I submit that we cannot afford to be ignorant of the causes for our woes nor turn numb when quick fixes are proposed. We must be better than that. I believe we are.
” Courage is not limited to the battlefield. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are the inner tests, like enduring pain when the room is empty or standing alone when you’re misunderstood “. Chuck Swindoll
Could be a painting, but it’s not. A photograph, perhaps. Yes, a photograph, but why the blur? Was the camera movement intentional or was it a miscue?
What is it you see? Only a grainy image of dark and light and shadows? A sunrise or sunset? Water and land and trees?
How do you feel when observing this image? Nothing? A mystery to be solved? A sense of calm? A memory?
I know what I see since I took the photograph. I know exactly where this is and when it was taken. I recall the moment and swiping my cellphone as I depressed the shutter button. When I view this photograph I am transported back in time to a moment when I felt at peace as I watched the sun rise over a lake on a cool, calm morning. I like recalling such moments.
Brown turned to white during first snow. Our feathered friends started paying us a visit as soon as I put out the feeder…squirrels, too, although they are always active. Winter’s chill replaced Autumn’s confusion. Life goes on.
Nature’s rituals are as regular as clockwork. Thankful that something is consistently good. Man can be a brute. And, He can be amazingly kind and generous. Last year challenged all of us. Some didn’t make it. Life goes on.
Results rather than resolutions. Hope instead of despair. Calm words replacing angry voices. Love overcoming division. Health being restored. Truth defeating lies. Effort required by all. Life goes on.
A N T I C I P A T I O N . . .
Please excuse the lack of clarity as these photographs were taken through glass and during blowing snow with my cellphone. Also, when ‘Man’ and ‘He’ are used, their meaning extends to all humans.
Hope your New Year is filled with a bounty of joyful experiences !