There are moments when I find myself getting dragged under, as the weight of whatever salient issues exist give me no respite.

It is so easy for our knees to buckle in instances like this. And life can seem unbearable and just not worth it.

I am so blessed during times like this to be surrounded by so many little loves as they invariably have a way of grabbing me by the socks and lifting me out of it.

Melancholy has little chance of surviving when you live in a world shared by eleven cats. Someone is always up to something and they have a way of injecting life into the most dead of days.

Yes, it can be a challenge and there are moments I carry the burden of so many little mouths to feed. But I wouldn’t trade a single one away.

Their degree of preciousness to my heart is immeasurable and their value to my soul is priceless.

Yesterday as I was about to leave and get some food for them at Walmart, Daisy was fast asleep on the car roof (hence this shot) and for a moment the madness of my life evaporated and I was consumed in the innocent beauty and her total feeling of safety and peace.

She was lost in some dream and I just stood and absorbed her for a little while.

Gone was the rush that had consumed my mind and the list of things that I needed to get done faded into irrelevance.

This little soul (like many of those in my care) has undergone such a tough existence that brought them my way. A heavily pregnant feral when she arrived in my yard, giving birth underneath my lawnmower. She has survived several health challenges and come shining through them all.

Her spirit is untarnished by her experiences and she is the most loving and gentle you could imagine. And she is a beacon of inspiration to those of us that struggle through the fog of our own life’s challenges.

I look around and see Rocky who survived the most gruesome of dog-attacks, Beauty who kept her eye despite Vet’s advice, and the others that have overcome their own hardships and it makes me stop and reassess my own.

Like most of us, I often feel the pull of my own “misfortunes” and they can derail me from life’s true joy. But it is important to remind ourselves that smaller lives than ours deal with bigger challenges. And therefore we need to muffle our moans and get on with it.

My cats are perfect mufflers … their love and endurance inspires me. Find yourself a muffler or two. They can make life so worth the living.

… just a thought!

Seeking Refuge

It was a challenging week at the end of a challenging month at the end of a challenging quarter and I found myself repeatedly going to the lake each morning hoping to find some solace.

And I did.

I went there four mornings this week and while none were classic photo-op sunrises, it really didn’t matter. The purpose of each visit was to step away from the reality of things just long enough to breathe again.

From the engulfing cloud of the first morning to the fog of this morning, each day presented a different feel even though I was effectively going to the same place.

I got some decent shots along the way and I have placed them below this blog, beginning with the first day and ending with this morning’s views. I hope you enjoy the different moods.

This morning as I drove home, I mused over how such different environments can still have the same soothing effects. And it dawned on me that it wasn’t so much the place that I was going to, as the place I was leaving behind.

Sometimes, we can find ourselves engaged in a heavy struggle that saps our energies and makes us question the value of living. We wonder if life would be better off without us and whether those we love would be better served by our departure.

But while we stay submerged in the issues that are drowning us, our ability to answer those type of questions is severely limited.

There is a reason why phrases like” not being able to see the forest for the trees” serve to remind us that we occasionally need to step back and take a longer view of life.

It would be nice to be able to take an objective view but frankly I don’t think anyone is capable of taking an objective view of their own life. Our own lives are the very definition of subjective.

But by stepping away for just a little while, we can regroup a little, refresh our soul, and brace ourselves for the next wave of attacks.

We live on the front line of our own lives and even WW1 soldiers in the trenches periodically got rotated out before returning again. Otherwise they ran a very real risk of suffering shell-shock and becoming largely incapacitated by the experience.

We can also become victims of shell shock in our own daily battles, if we don’t occasionally take refuge from life and indulge ourselves with a little departure from reality.

We don’t have to completely depart from reality, just depart from our own reality. I mean, I am not suggesting we start dancing with pink elephants among the daisies. But finding a quiet spot away from our own reality where life gives us a very different experience … that’s the real escape I am talking about.

Ever since I discovered a love for the camera years ago, it has been a fabulous tool for me to dig my way out of the trenches.

I learned long ago, in picture-taking, that the only important piece of what is in front of us is the piece that falls in frame. To the left or right, is irrelevant. It is why I can find a beautiful moment standing beside a dump, but focused on a gentle flower of some sort.

But we all have different escape tools and whatever yours might be, dust it off and use it.

Maybe it is a fishing rod, a butterfly net, or just a long dark cup of coffee. It doesn’t matter, they are equally effective as long as they take us away from the trenches.

None of us win this war in the end but the life we live should not be defined by the time we spent in the trenches. It should be defined by the moments we enjoyed away from them.

… just a thought.