About Michael Doran

I have been encouraged and inspired by many throughout my life, and seek to do the same for others. My blogs and photographs reflect who I am and what I am thinking or seeing at the moment I post something. I hope what I share brings pleasure and meaning to others. Thank you for viewing my posts.

CONTRASTS

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The wheat is long gone-harvested in June. Barren fields now stand where the Staff of Life used to grow; ready to be plowed and replanted come late winter.

The deep blue skies and brilliant, cotton ball clouds yield to the darker grays of Autumn.

Contrasts are everywhere.

Trees shed their leaves while hedge rows bear their balls of fruit. Rains drench the good earth where wastelands once stood.

Calves are putting on fat for the winter while squirrels are busy hiding nuts for the long cold season ahead.

Contrasts are everywhere.

Birds of all sorts begin their yearly migration to warmer climates. Rodents dig deeper tunnels and store up food for the shut-in days of winter.

Even vehicles are ‘winterized’ in anticipation of frigid temperatures and people prepare for the cold by exchanging wardrobes. 

Contrasts are everywhere.

The last major hurricane, Michael, just made its way through Florida and up the eastern seaboard leaving a wake of destruction in its path. Too many lives are changed in a not-so-positive-way.

Communities gather together to respond to the crisis while strangers donate money and supplies to those they don’t know.

Contrasts are everywhere, and there is no way of escaping them. May we all engage them in a spirit of optimism and generosity. 

Change can be difficult, but also very rewarding. May it be so for each of us.

 

SEASONS

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Bob Dylan sang about “The times they are a changin’“, and Solomon wrote, “To everything there is a season” and hundreds more have written about the changing of seasons-whether they be climate changes or life stages. Seasons happen with regularity.

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Here in the Midwest of America we are entering the season referred to as Autumn or Fall. Temperatures begin to cool, rains become more frequent, days become shorter, crops are harvested and Baseball concludes while Football is in full motion. Many folk like this season best as it represents a change from the dog days of summer to blissful foliage colors and new wardrobes worn. There is beauty even in the seemingly mundane things of life.

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As much as we like to talk about the weather, it is the seasons of life that really matter most. Some don’t like to discuss the changing of seasons as they bring mortality into sharper focus. However, so much can be accomplished during the later seasons of life and discovering your gift to humanity may be the biggest challenge. It is for me. Health is another season changer for many. I recall when I had my spinal fusion in 2012 that many things changed for me. I could no longer do some of the things I used to do. A good friend of mine told me to accept my new normal and move on. That took a while, but I did (not without my personal struggles, though).

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I leave you with this thought…actually, I am talking to myself, but if it applies to you so much the better.  Simply be radiant !

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Off The Beaten Path

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There is a little know Mayan archaeological site nestled between a main road and Cancun resort hotels called El Rey. It is not advertised and the cost of admission is cheap. No vendors, no hype, just ancient stone structures of a civilization long gone…and iguanas. Lots of iguanas !

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There are probably hundreds of them, although we saw about thirty, but we knew we were being watched. They like to perch high upon the ancient stone structures and act as sentinels such as this guy is doing.

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There are a variety of iguana colors and sizes at El Rey. Some are black, some striped, some gray and some molting. They were curious about us as we approached them. Most lizards would let us get to within three feet before turning tail or dashing away. Although they walk slowly and deliberately, they can sprint quite fast when necessary.

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They have a keen sense of smell, and an extra eye which only detects light and dark, plus Parana-like teeth for tearing leaves off vegetation. They will bite when provoked and their 80 to 120 razor-sharp teeth can do some damage to human’s skin.

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Notice how well they blend in with their surroundings…like chameleon lizards, except these guys keep their color adapted to their area of influence.

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Unlike their cousins on the Pacific coastal regions which grow to over six feet in length, these east coast lizards average about eighteen inches to two feet.

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Although El Rey offers no towering pyramids and observatories such as those found at Chichen Itza, Uxmal or Tikal, it does provide a glimpse of an early eastern civilization with house foundations, a main street, religious temple sites and a variety of other structures. However, the iguanas rule this site…you will be watched all the time you are there !

 

 

Gates

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These gates are some of the most imaginative of design I have ever witnessed. True, there are so many diversified examples of ornate and beautiful gates throughout the world that one must stop and give thought about them. Wherever I have traveled-near and far- there are always gates. Some are simple wood frames with initials and some are colossal wrought iron wonders with symbols and elaborate features.

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This family loves horses and also have several horse sculptures on their property. These gates are their newest addition to horse yard art. Whoever the artist / metal fabricator is, he or she did a fantastic job of creating a very unique and functional gate system. Imagine being invited to their home and pulling up onto their driveway to find these horses facing you ! Dinner is probably as yummy as these gates are beautiful.

I ask myself, “Why gates, anyway? Are they to keep people and critters in or out…or both?” I believe the answer is ‘Both’. But, then I ask myself, what is so important to want to keep something outside the gates or inside the of them? This presumes there is a fence or wall which encloses the property and attaches to the gates.

There are so many obvious answers that the questions seem rather elementary and they are except for one scenario: the Heart. Not the physical organ which pumps blood throughout our bodies and sustains our lives, but the soul of a person which is somehow attached to the mind, as well. Would you agree that we erect walls to protect us from hurt and pain, and emotionally build gates to allow what we want to enter or exit the confines of the precious property within?

So, I think about the gates I have created. I examine whether they are locked or not. I reflect on what I allow to enter or exit. I think about the various stages in my life where I did and didn’t allow or disallow something in or out. And, I think about now. Who or what am I keeping in or out? Is my current defense adequate? Are gates even necessary? What is the cost to my personal well being? Is it time to open the gates to my heart…at least unlock them? Perhaps asking these questions will bring about a new dynamic to my life. I could use a change. How about you?

ILLUSION

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In today’s world of ‘make believe’ we can reconfigure just about any image, video, audio or written word to reveal whatever it is we choose to convey. And these illusions can be quite convincing…like that of a crafted magician.

Take the image above, I can name all sorts of explanations as to what it is: painted abstract art, sunlight on glass fragments, mineral bath, rocks from Mars, etc., etc.. Whatever it is, it seems to be a bit unusual which is what our culture likes to see and hear. Below is the real photograph and explanation.

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This is a closeup image of the rocky bottom of the Merced River in Yosemite National Park. Simply breathtaking to witness the water flow over these time-worn rocks with the sun illuminating them through the water. Lots of peaceful energy here…kind of like God’s grace which flows across our lives…at least I hope it does. Whether we take the real or the illusion, there is a choice to be made every day. Not to say which is right for you, but I kind of prefer the natural image. Maybe that is because I was there and saw it and photographed it. However, I find both to be intriguing.  Here’s to reality and creativity !

Morning Swim

 

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There is nothing quite like an early morning swim on a late Summer day

Past the Golden Rod and over the water lily up-shoots

And eventually into the clear water

Autumn may be around the proverbial corner, and will be welcomed 

Yet, a good paddle is so refreshing and quite relaxing, too

Makes me wish I were a duck, except during hunting season !

Double Vision

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I couldn’t let this moment pass without pulling out my cell phone and snapping this photograph. The quality is not so good, but the subject matter is a bit unique. Afternoon sunlight radiating through the glass panes of our double entry doors created this effect.

Double doors with double glass panes, double shafts of light, and double windows are enough to give one double vision !

We recently lime washed our fireplace and the change was dramatic…see below.

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So, we also have a double image of the same object before and after the alteration. We like the change and would be interested if you do, too.

However, the title of this blog really isn’t about fire places or shafts of light or lime washing. The crux of the matter has to do with how well we see life and adjust to its ever-changing demands placed upon us. I’m fortunate if I can keep up with today’s pace of living as it seems so fast and appears to be getting even more so. Sure, some of this is aging, but mostly it seems to deal with technology and mankind’s affection toward it.

Am I crazy or just having double vision on occasion?  I answer by simply saying, “Yes” !