the stories we tell…ourselves

Stay at Home Order … day 6 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

The sound of water

is my companion

in this lonely hut

in lulls between

the storms on the peak

~Saigyō (cited: Trans: B Watson, Poems of a Mountain Home)

Nikon D750… f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

John F Simon’s Drawing your own Path:

“We all confabulate. When tragedy strikes, we want narratives to explain why it happened. When scientist try to put together conflicting data, they theorize. I attempt to reconcile disparate facts by concocting plausible scenarios–making up stories about drawings for my art collectors because, after all, what art patron doesn’t like to know the real story behind an artwork.

“If my mind seems to always make up stories what do those stories say about who I am and how I see the world? Does consciously shifting my view change how I describe myself? How responsible am I for the content and direction of my story? What if I am not telling a story but a story is telling me? If I am open to listening, are there changes to be learned from the images?”

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

Nourishing Positive States of Mind

Invest some time in recognizing, embracing, and nourishing positive states of mind.

Thus far, my list includes: gratitude, loving-kindness, inclusiveness, compassion, mindfulness, tranquility, equanimity, humility.

Identify, contemplate, and set out an intention to practice 1-3 positive mind states throughout the day.

This morning I silently expressed gratitude for continued safe water, electricity, internet, mail delivery, trash pick up, and traffic lights and experienced an easing of resentment.

I have found that inclusiveness opens doors of supportive unity with others as well as silences isolation.

What are your positive states of mind and how can an intention to practice them help you through this unsettling time?

Please be safe.

in the distance…

Stay at Home Order … day 5 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

Seeping through the dawn,

the voice

of a Canadian goose–

in the distance…alone

mountain village in spring

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

“The counselor was a friend of nature, nature was something quite special, nature was one of the finest ornaments of existence. The councilor patronized nature, he defended it against the artificial; gardens were nothing but nature spoiled, but gardens laid out in elaborate style were nature turned crazy. There was no style in nature, providence had wisely made nature natural, nothing but natural. Nature was that which was unrestrained, that which was unspoiled. But with the fall of man civilization had come upon mankind; now civilization had become a necessity; but it would have been better, if it had not been thus. The state of nature was something quite different, quite different. The councilor himself would have had no objection to maintaining himself by going about in a coat of lamb-skin and shooting hares and snipes and golden plovers, and grouse and haunches of venison and wild boars. No, the state of nature really was like a gem, a perfect gem.” (cited: Project Gutenberg’s Mogens and Other Stories, by Jens Peter Jacobsen, pg 7)

Information about COVID-19 to help you and your family/friends be safe through this stress-filled time.

we are solitary

Stay at Home Order … day 4 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

photo assignment: same lens (35mm) camera wide open (f/1.8) … 25th day

He never came —

the wind too tells

how the night has worn away,

while mournfully the cries of wild geese

approach and pass on ~Saigō (cited: B Watson, Poems of a Mountain Home)

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

“And to speak of solitude again, it becomes always clearer that this is at bottom not something that one can take or leave. We are solitary. We may delude ourselves and act although this were not so. That is all. But how much better it is to realize that we are so, yes, even to begin by assuming it. … A person removed from his own room, almost without preparation and transition, and set upon the height of a great mountain range, would feel something of the sort: an unparalleled insecurity, and abandonment to something inexpressible would almost annihilate him. He would think himself falling or hurled out into space, or exploded into a thousand pieces… So for him who becomes solitary all distances, all measures of change; of these changes many take place suddenly, and then, as with the man on the mountaintop, extraordinary imaginings and singular sensations arise that seem to grow out beyond all bearing. …” (cited Rainer Maria Rilke, Trans: M D Herter Norton, Letters to a Young Poet)

lens-artists photo challenge: distance

My abode is

in winter seclusion

on this white mountain in Echigo.

No trace of humans

coming or going ~ Ryokan (Trans: K tanahashi, Sky Above, Great Wind)

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/400 35mm 200 ISO

with nothing

to touch, a dead branch

grabs at the sky ~Katsura Nobuko (cited: Trans: M Ueda, Far Beyond the Field)

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/10s 35mm 200 ISO

Protecting the child

from the cold autumn wind,

the old scarecrow. ~ Issa (cited: Trans: S Hamill, The Spring of My Life)

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/640s 35mm 200 ISO

Winter wind!

A charcoal peddler all alone

in a small ferry boat ~ Buson (cited: Trans: Y Sawa & E M Shiffert, Haiku Master Buson)

A special thank you to the Lens-Artists Photographers who continue to challenge and inspire. The above images and poetry is submitted in response to Travels and Trifles challenge: distance.

Please be safe. We can do this…we really can!

“Mystere: – Kalimando” | Cirque du Soleil

no one calls …

Stay at Home Order … day 2 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

Weeds grow before my gate 
And my sleeves are wet with dew, 
No one calls on me, 
My tears are solitary–alas!

The Sarashina Diary (AD 1009-1059)

Cited: Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/3200 35mm 200ISO

“There should have been roses
Of the large, pale yellow ones.
And they should hang in abundant clusters over the garden-wall, scattering their tender leaves carelessly down into the wagon-tracks on the road: a distinguished glimmer of all the exuberant wealth of flowers within.
And they should have the delicate, fleeting fragrance of roses, which cannot be seized and is like that of unknown fruits of which the senses tell legends in their dreams.
Or should they have been red, the roses?
Perhaps.
They might be of the small, round, hardy roses, and they would have to hang down in slender twining branches with smooth leaves, red and fresh, and like a salutation or a kiss thrown to the wanderer, who is walking, tired and dusty, in the middle of the road, glad that he now is only half a mile from Rome.
Of what may he be thinking? What may be his life?”

Cited: Project Gutenberg’s Mogens and Other Stories, by Jens Peter Jacobsen

a tangled web…

Seclusion Retreat … 14th day

Mud splattered window

Pollen-laden window screen

Riot of crows’ caw

Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive

~Walter Scott, Marmion

Nikon D750 … f/1.8 1/320s 35mm 200 ISO

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

~Abraham Lincoln

“… to abstain from false speech is found in the position that people connect with one another within an atmosphere of mutual trust, where each draws upon the belief that the other will speak the truth.  It is suggested therefore that families and societies will fall into chaos as one untruth shatters trust, as it is the nature of lies to proliferate through attempts to weave a harmonious tapestry of reality.

“When I reflect upon those times in which I experience an intense urge to say other than what I believe is true, I know it is fed by the anxiety intrinsic to uncertainty, and inherent with the aloneness of expulsion. At other times, the drive seems to come from a sense of nothingness that seeks validation through inclusion with others or continuity within mangled and haphazard memories. It feels as though it is an act that preserves or ensures a sense of control, power, or protection.

“What this force blinds me to is the powerlessness that coincides with the telling of an untruth, as well as the emotional separation that overlaps the fear of discovery.  It also creates the need for another story to support the one prior.  Therefore, the beliefs that compel me to lie are but a layer of lies within a lie. …” (cited: B C Koeford, A Meditative Journey with Saldage.)

Oh hell…let’s just get up and shake out those negative toxins with Fleetwood Mac – “Little Lies” from the 1987 album “Tango In The Night”. The new Fleetwood Mac collection ’50 Years – Don’t Stop

now hiring driver

Nikon D750 … f/1.8 1/50s 35mm 200 ISO

Seclusion Retreat … 13th day

Given that we can live only a small part of what there is in us–what happens with the rest?

Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

In this lodging

that no one visits,

where no one comes to call

from the moon in the trees

beans of light come poking in

~Saigyō (cited: Trans: B Watson, Poems of a Mountain Home)

“Of the thousand experiences we have, we find language for one at most and even this one merely by chance and without the care it deserves. Buried under all the mute experiences are those unseen ones that give our life its form, its color, and its melody. Then when we turn to these treasures, as archaeologists of the soul, we discover how confusing they are. The object of contemplation refuses to stand still, the words bounce off the experience and in the end, pure contradictions stand on the paper. For a long time, I thought it was a defect, something to be overcome. Today I think it is different: that recognition of the confusion is the ideal path to understanding these intimate yet enigmatic expertises. That sounds strange, even bizarre, I know. But ever since I have seen the issue in this light I have the feeling of being really awake and alive for the first time.”

~Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon. pg 17

I think this is a good time to pull away from the computer, close our eyes, and open ourselves to “Clarinet Concerto in A, K. 622: II. Adagio”.

Please be safe

drinking tea alone…

Nikon D750 … f/1.8 1/200 35mm 200 ISO

Seclusion Retreat … 12th day

drinking tea alone–
every day the butterfly
stops by
~Issa (cited: http://www.haikuguy.com)

“Even after decades as a successful artist…if I choose an object [to draw], fear becomes a goblin holding me back–fear of failure, of not measuring up, or of just being banal, but mostly fear of my drawing looking weird. Drawing makes me vulnerable. Doubt has a role in holding back the sheer joy of expression … the strongest initial resistance to drawing, for me, comes from the inner critic–the judgmental voice in my head. I imagine I hear people judging my work, devaluing my efforts, or comparing my sketch unfavorably to someone else’s finished work, and I just don’t want to face that!

“The great twentieth-century painter Philip Guston, known to work long hours in the studio, once repeated something the composer and artist John Cage had told him: ‘When you start working, everybody is in your studio–the past, your friends, your enemies, the art world, and above all, your ideas–all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave.’ Guston and Cage before him, were articulating the reality that dealing with internal resistance, with the inner critic, is an integral part of an ongoing creative practice…” (cited: J F Simon, Drawing your own Path)

Let’s take a break, make a cup of tea, and listen to the Colorado Symphony’s Digital Ode to Joy

Please be safe

variations on a theme

seclusion retreat … 10th day

The loneliness

of my ramshackle

grass hut,

where no one but the wind

comes to call (Saigyō Trans: B Watson, Poems of a Mountain Home)

Nikon D750… f/1.8 1,2000s 38mm 200 ISO

“One can live without coffee and without cigarettes, Liesl said rebelliously, but not without nature, that’s impossible, no one should be allowed to deprive you of that. I said, ‘Think of it as if we’d got to spend a prison sentence here, for a few years perhaps, and learn to look at the couple of trees over there across the road as if they were a forest. …” (Etty Hillesum, Trans: A Pomerans, An Interrupted Life The Diaries of Etty Hillesum 1941-1943. pg. 127)

Nikon D750… f/1.8 1,2000s 38mm 200 ISO

“… Were it possible for us to see further than our own knowledges reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divining, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidences than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown, our feelings grow more mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdrawn, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent. …” (Rainer Maria Rilke Trans: M D Herter Norton, Letters to a Young Poet. pg.40

Nikon D750… f/1.8 1,2000s 38mm 200 ISO

cee's b&w photo challenge: fences and gates

spring peace–
a mountain monk peeks
through a fence

~Issa (cited: www.haikuguy.com)

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

“Life may be brimming over with experiences, but somewhere, deep inside, all of us carry a vast and fruitful loneliness wherever we go. And sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.”

~ Etty Hilleson, Trans: A Pomerans, In Interrupted Life The Diaries of Etty Hillesum. pg. 78