Beggars would ride

Yesterday sucked … there is no polite way to put that. It just did.

It was one of those days where almost everything you touch turns to shit and one bad moment seems to follow another.

But, as with every day (good or bad) … they all come to an end and sleep allows us the chance to rejuvenate our spirit and tackle whatever the next day has in store for us.

I decided I wasn’t going to let the day end without at least a sustained effort to put a good moment into it and so I grabbed the camera and headed off to Lake Parker to watch the sun go down.

This is my favorite shot from the sun’s final moments. Hope you enjoy

I spent just less than an hour there. Parked my car at one end and then walked slowly along the road’s edge, avoiding all the would-be formula-one drivers as they raced home from work. Thankfully they all missed me but I did wonder at times if the bastards were actually aiming for me!

It was a beautiful stroll. The temperature was near perfect and the golden glow cast by the setting sun caught the wings of birds overhead as they flew off to roost somewhere for the night. It was exactly what I needed.

Then this moment happened. A moment that took me from elation to dismay within a split second.

There was a lovely Great Blue Heron perched on a wooden roof of a boat dock watching the sun set. I got an initial couple of shots of him and walked briskly to get into the position where I could put him between the setting sun and me but mere seconds before I got into position, he flew away. I cursed the gods.

I couldn’t believe it. It could have been one of my shots of the year. At least that’s what I told myself as I spat rage and venom into the golden skies.

I was so disappointed and left wishing he could have just stayed in place for a mere ten seconds more to give me my shot.

As my rage subsided, I reminded myself that my wishes are not how life decides to play out. Most of us don’t get our wishes.

Nor should we!

A big part of our life is driven by needs, wants, and wishes. And even Maslow’s hierarchy of needs barely extended to the realm of wishes.

So why do we wish? And why do we get disappointed when a wish fails to materialize? Surely the logician in us understands that a wish falls into the “highly unlikely” category of events.

So my mind meandered down a strange path and tried to figure out our responses to unanswered wishes.

And it dawned on me that we establish early on the whole “wish-expectation” within our children far beyond their immediate needs and even many of their wants. We tell them to blow out candles on their birthday cake and make a wish. We tell them to wish upon a falling star or throw a coin into a wishing well.

We plant within their psyche some glimmer of hope within each wish that almost always ends in disappointment. So, why do we do this?

And long after our childhood has expired and we realize the harsh truth of life’s delivery of needs versus wants, many of us still close our eyes at night wishing for something or someone that might happen when tomorrow’s new day ushers in.

Advertising and marketing very much replies on the wish-belief system and so is there any surprise that we continue the myth within our own minds. It is why there are so many lottery players and gamblers out there.

But surely when it comes to the simplicity of our normal life, we should be able to take back control of our lives to where we establish our needs, hope for our wants, and throw wishes out the window.

It may sound callous but if we can do that and just completely disregard the whole wish aspect, then we will never be disappointed by their failure to be granted. And if perchance a happening as remote as an answered wish does enter our lives, we can treat it with a wonderful sense of delight as an unexpected event can bring to us.

Wishes are not benign feelings, unfortunately. They can provoke a sense of disappointment when unrealized and in sufficient numbers will add a level of depression that is unrealistic.

There should be no sense of entitlement in life beyond our true needs. And when we promote wishes we are a sense no better than the snake-oil salesman of the old west that made his fortune selling miracle cures.

And if we could refocus on our needs, we should also recognize the needs of others around us. Humans and creatures alike. Because there is no justification ever for denying the needs of any living creature.

And when we place our wants or wishes ahead of the needs of another, we allow our own selfishness to superimpose on the “greater good”. And I have a huge problem with that.

It is why I can never accept that there are billionaires alongside paupers. And that society is ok with that.

Imbalance caused by the wishes of some against the needs of others and against even the needs of the creatures that we share our planet with and even the planet itself … this is the darkness that risks all. And I mean all.

So the fact that I was even slightly bent out of shape by my wish for that Great Blue Heron last night … shame on me. I am sure he had much more important things to do that pander to a silly wish of an old man with a camera.

May all your needs be met today and if you get a want or two in the process, congratulations! You are ahead of most of this planet’s creatures.

Aah, if wishes were horses …

I’ll be back …

We braved the sub-arctic conditions last night here in Tampa (well, OK, it was in the mid-fifties), my good friend Simona and I … trying to get some decent long exposures.

The searing wind blowing up from the Hillsborough River into downtown, certainly left us feeling exposed and in all honesty we called it a night earlier than originally planned.

I have attached a few shots at the end of this blog so that you get a feel of what we were trying for, but here is my favorite from the night, right here:

We were trying to cope with the elements and generally not getting the amount of traffic we needed for long light streaks in the background. So, while the company itself was awesome, the shoot was not so much!

And yet this one shot above gave me an unexpected result with the flare from the traffic light behind her eye that could be forgiven for a movie poster from another Terminator sequel.

So, it was actually this thought that provoked the further musings that I am writing here.

The whole notion of time travel and returning to the past in order to be able to do or undo something that would in fact alter a present happening.

Like everyone, I have things in my past that I have often wished I hadn’t. Mistakes made, opportunities missed, arguments fought.

And yet as much as I recognize the errors of my ways, it is difficult for me to regret to the point where I truly wish them undone.

Edith Piaf’s anthem “Je ne regrette rien” was voiced in 1960 as a war banner leading the charge for the No Regrets movement. It extolled the virtue of living a life without regret and how we should boldly refuse to wilt under the results of past actions.

But I don’t aspire to that belief. I think regrets are fine. Understanding the ramifications of having done something wrong and feeling disappointed in ourselves is ok. Dwelling on them and wishing them undone is not ok. But acknowledging our mistakes and weaknesses is part of the learning process.

It can be a fundamental mechanism of self-growth. Enabling our learning from past mistakes and learning how not to do them again.

People who live in white houses and throw stones at all the mere mortals that offend them are a central problem within humanity at the moment. Self-belief to the point of willful ignorance has become a trademark of political and business achievements.

“everyone’s out of step except my Johnny” was a ridiculous one-liner to highlight how blind parent’s can be to their child’s shortcomings. And while most of us laughed loudly at the whole notion that anyone could actually believe such a thing, there was an undercurrent of belief among a certain type of parent that eventually put Johnny in the White House.

Most of us realize we are flawed. It is part and parcel of being human. Making mistakes is part of our eternal fabric and will never change.

Recognizing our mistakes is also what allows us to empathize with those around us who make theirs. It helps us to understand why their mistakes too are only human and empowers us to forgive.

It is also important to forgive ourselves. Forgiving our own past transgressions is a better response that trying to explain them away or even denying that we ever had transgressed. While few of us would have transgressed to the point where we carried an endless supply of tic tacs and forced ourselves on an unknown quantity of young women, we each have our own skeletons in our cupboards.

Denial of their presence may fool some but it should never fool ourselves. And the moment it does fool us is the moment we have crossed from human to something less.

There are a lot of human traits I hang my head about but regret, empathy, and forgiveness are qualities that we should wear with pride.

There is no going back and undoing. But there is definitely a future of learning and moving forward.

May your week ahead help you move ever forward.

Helping Hand

Every evening at the same time, for about the past year, I put out 10 dishes of food and some broken up bread, for an assortment of wild friends that come by during the night.

It started when the last of our rescued possums died on us and it was our way of continuing an involvement in lending wildlife a helping hand.

Florida being Florida, the diversity of dinner guests has been quite staggering with Possums, Raccoons, Squirrels, Mice, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and some other birds that I haven’t quite figured out yet.

I lay out the spread at pretty much the same time each day and it has gotten to the point now that if I am late, the Cardinals and Blue Jays start screaming at me from the trees.

I’ve even been able to tell who is eating what, because they all have very different eating habits. Mice love the cereal, Raccoons go for the mix of cat food and pasta, and Possums eat everything (although they definitely have a preference for sweet things!)

I have witnessed them all standing side by side, possums, raccoons, birds, and squirrels (mice are a bit timid for large crowds), sharing food without fights. At times it feels like I am witnessing a Disney movie, first hand.

Last night, not even two minutes after I laid out the food, a Raccoon made a beeline for the macaroni/cat food mix and began to carefully pick out the noodles before anyone else got them. And standing guard immediately above her was her friend the Cardinal, making sure that she ate undisturbed.

Hope you like this little selection that I shot from the kitchen door.

It was immediately obvious to me that she was watching me set out the food and waiting impatiently for me to leave. And I could feel her presence in the bushes even though I couldn’t see her. So I spoke softly to her wishing her a bon appetit.

As I washed my hands at the kitchen sink and looked out the window as the other birds and squirrels began to descend from the trees, I reminded myself how lucky I am to live in Florida and to be able to give a little helping hand to creatures that want/need it.

In the past year I have rescued snakes, turtles, lizards, and mice and on the back seat of my car I keep a towel so that when I see a turtle trying to cross a road, I stop, pick him up and help him on his way.

The fact that it is a regular happening is indicative of the impact human development is having on the wild habitats of these little creatures. Which, while generally understandable, makes me sad.

But no, I am not about to rant about the environmental impacts of human development. Relax.

My thought today is much simpler. It is about the ability that we have to lend a helping hand to creatures that largely because of us, need it. There is a privilege in being able to give help to anyone and it reflects back into our own soul with a feeling of genuine good.

I deliberately chose the word “anyone” in that sentence above rather than “anything” because we, like they, are just animals. Some of us (not so much the MAGA crowd) might be able to claim superior intelligence over some of our brother creatures, but there is no real guarantee that is even true.

Being a dominant species, it behooves us to be softly aware of this dominance and not use it to diminish other creatures. Our evolution to dominance owes more gratitude to the deformity that became opposable thumbs, rather than our “vastly superior intellect”.

So, when we have on opportunity to interact with wild creatures, we should do so in a way that provides sustenance and safe haven. Treating them as objects to be discarded or abused is not just immoral, it is self-diminishing. We, in turn, lose the reflection of good that can warm our souls on a chilly day.

I can’t imagine a world without wild creatures and yet every move us humans seem to take keeps moving us in that direction. If it happens, it will happen to a world that I will be long gone from. But my children’s children and their children will look back from that bleakness and wonder how we could have been so cruel.

My ten bowls of food won’t impact the direction of the world, but at least for the moment, it brightens the lives of a small few friends and makes me feel the better person for having helped.

Try it yourself … it is an immensely rewarding feeling!

Lemons to Lemonade

I was downtown Tampa last night waiting for model that didn’t show and decided to use my waiting moments to try some night-time pics of the city.

I love Tampa for many reasons, not least how beautiful the downtown is and the pride that local government has in it.

I hope you like this small selection of images taken from the University of Tampa grounds and Kennedy Blvd bridge.

She messaged me that she was on her way after she had already missed our shoot time and I told her not to bother, that I was heading home and as I drove home I was feeling proud that I hadn’t succumbed to some beautiful young woman thinking she could step on me as she chooses.

When it comes to showing respect for a person, it is important that you respect their time and clearly this young lady had no issue in showing none.

So, while my initial thoughts driving home were indeed about the whole respect thing and being ok with keeping people waiting for you, it transformed into my own response to the situation and how I handled the lemons I had been given.

By choosing not to let lost in anger, I focused on what else I could do while I was down there. And as I was fully equipped with cameras, tripods, and such, the choice was obvious … grab my camera and see what else my lens might see.

I wandered down onto the banks of the river for the cityscape shots and stood in the middle of night traffic on the Kennedy bridge for the light trails. So, I didn’t just shoot what was in front of me … I went and sought out something.

And it was fun. Great fun, actually!

So rather than anger and frustration of an abandoned shoot, I headed home eager to see what my camera might have caught and happy with what I imagined it captured.

Dwelling on the negative of any situation is rarely a productive response and while it is ok to be angry with whatever wrong has been done to you, it is far better to be able to find a way to reduce the wrong and even try to flip it.

In the legal world, there is a term called mitigating the damage and it is the responsibility of the person who is a victim to reduce the amount of damage being done to them by taking action that effectively “stops the bleeding”.

And in the real world, it is also our responsibility to respond in a similar fashion and help ourselves up off the ground. Chumbawamba’s anthem song of a few years back which hailed “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down!” is an inspiration if we allow it to be.

Refusing to be kept down is a really good philosophy in life.

It is how mankind the world over has overcome suppression and it can be how we start into a new day even though yesterday really sucked.

So, here’s hoping your weekend comes without any knocks. But if you do end up experiencing some, just reach out for a glass of lemonade and enjoy the taste!

Paradise Maimed

The other morning , I took my sister, brother-in-law, and niece to Hollis Gardens in Lakeland. We were on our way to the trails at Circle B and spending some moments first in these paradise-like gardens seemed like a worthy curtain-raiser to the main event.

For years, this place has been my go-to-place for flower pics and it has never failed to deliver. It delivered again with some lovely flower images but as cameras have yet to be able to capture the wonderful smells of nature’s perfumery, you are left with my own recounting here. It was delicious in the extreme and each leaning in to a bloom brought the most amazing aromas that you can imagine.

I have attached some flower shots to the end of today’s thought. Hope you enjoy!

While we were there, my sister spotted the situation in this picture in a corner of the gardens and it stopped each of us in our tracks.

At first glance, your senses feel accosted and your eyes have difficulty understanding the whys or hows such a thing could happen.

In the middle of a soft and gentle piece of natural life, desecration appears not just to thrive but be organized.

That children/teens (I assume) feel that it is not just ok to do this, but somehow a symbol of their freedom to do so, is an outrageous thought. That they see nothing wrong with willfully damaging a natural organism for their own “fun” or glorification is a reflection of their own level of ignorance.

And that ignorance is what occupied my thoughts later in the day as I sorted through my images from earlier.

Some people read the word “ignorance” and equate it to stupidity. And while it is entirely possible that several of these miscreants are also stupid, that is not the point I am trying to make.

Ignorance is really about lack of knowledge and it is hard to smack people down when they really know no better.

So I look around them at the environment that allows such ignorance to prevail and I see the immediate culprits of their parents, their outer circle of an education system, and then the outer most influence of leaders and idols.

Their parents are clearly an example of a “failed state” in geopolitical terms and they have failed their children miserably in providing them with a basic sense of right and wrong and a respect for the planet we live on. That is an easy one to spot. Parents are the front-line of a system that is supposed to help create good citizens.

When that front-line fails to establish a good base, those in the outer bands of influence have an almost impossible job to repair these retarded minds. The saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” only works when parents hold the front line.

When parents abandon their role or shirk their responsibilities, their offspring resort to carving idiotic scratches into helpless plants and trees. They in-turn should carry scratches as a mark of shame so that we can all know who they are. Their right to procreate should even be revoked. They should recede to the shadows and live out their existence in shunned solitude.

The education system has failed to overturn these damaged brains and transform them into useful living creatures. Teachers may individually be champions of the earth, but when the system pointedly shapes brains into performers for industry rather than protectors of the planet, we end up with thousands of desecrators wandering the streets with penknives and markers looking to make their own pathetic mark.

And when leaders and idols are climate-change deniers and flat-earthers, what hope for the generations of idiots looking to sheepishly follow them into extinction? “We’re going to bring jobs back to the coal industry, abandon the Paris accord on climate change, and authorize oil drilling in the arctic” … campaign slogans that win elections, fashion policies, and allow for more tic tac-laden pussy-grabbing.

There is a swell of ignorance in this country that is driven by selfishness, hate, and intolerance. It distorts reality and overwhelms the arguments of good people.

And like it or not it filters down to the children and distorts their view of right and wrong. It allows them to replace truth and bravery with lies and bravado.

It allows them to be cruel to little creatures and carve their insignificance into living organisms. I just know in my heart of hearts that one day I will return to that spot and some idiot will have carved MAGA into the bamboo.

Wait ‘n see!

Bubbles for Troubles

There are few photographic moments more enjoyable than shooting a beautiful young lady on a beach at sunset, but when you add some bubbles to the mix, it can become a true celebration!

Last night my special friend Simona and I braved the near-freezing 70’s at Cypress Pointe as the sun fell from the sky and the gentle breeze came in from the bay. When we imagined the getting-together to do a bubble shoot, we hadn’t factored in the breeze and how it limits how much play you can inject into such a shoot.

But once we found the slight shelter of an alcove and a shapely mangrove tree, we managed to get a few shots that I think are worth sharing.

Cypress Pointe also sports large swathes of pink Muhly Grass that we decided to factor into some bubble-less shots. These grasses provided endless movement to the scene as they caught every gust of breeze and turned it into a pink ocean of loveliness that only Mother Nature could create. How could we resist?

I hope you like this selection of images!

After we broke bread, shared wine, and lost ourselves in meaningful conversation, I climbed back into my car and revisited the whole evening in my mind as I drove home.

This visit was obviously of a truly pleasurable evening with a good friend, but it was actually the bubbles that twisted my mind off into the eventual stream of thought.

The last time I played with bubbles was probably when my girls were toddlers, several hundred years ago. And while no doubt there are many more thrilling avenues of high-tech excitement these days, there is an innocent enjoyment with bubbles that is hard to match.

Very few of us will ignore a bubble as it floats by and while there may be several reasons why, perhaps one is that it hearkens back to when we too were toddlers and life opened up to us with such innocence.

For most of us, life replaces innocence with stresses and reality and as tooth fairies, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny fade away into the dim recesses of our adult mind, innocence too becomes a faded memory of our past.

But the loss of innocence also becomes a thief of joy as we increasingly remove ourselves from gentle pastimes that children enjoy but which we now deny ourselves.

We use our maturity and sophistication as a stick with which to beat the final childish smiles from our lives and then wake up one morning, wondering why we have such a feeling of unhappiness and melancholy.

Life is very much what we make of it. It is the singular thing that actually does belong to us … with a value far beyond anything else we may accumulate over time. In choosing to waste it on sadness or frivolous pursuits, we completely miss the point.

The pursuit of happiness is extolled as something we should have a “right” to and yet there is a happiness of childish pursuits that we willingly shed.

Bubbles brought me back to mine last night. They reminded me of a piece of me that I had locked away in a box in my mental attic.

I guess the thought that I am offering here is that each of us should open the box where we have discarded our innocence so that our hearts can be restored with some child-like smiles. Go ahead … blow a little!

Trial and Error

Tonight I head downtown Tampa with some new LED lights that I bought a week ago. I want to see what they can do for me in a low-light and long exposure situation, so I hired a model from Craigslist and will see where the evening leads.

But I figured I should take some basic shots in advance so that I can have some idea of what to expect and possibly identify issues before they happen, so I went down to Lake Mirror in Lakeland last night just as the sun set.

It is excruciatingly difficult to do some of this stuff on your own and last night was a challenge to say the least. I must have looked a right idiot to anyone watching, as I was going back and forth to the camera, repeatedly taking what to all the world look like a set of strange selfies.

I was trying to train red and blue LED lights onto bubbles that I was blowing and trying to remotely catch the shot and after a number of desperately bad fails, managed to start to get something by the time the evening wore on. Hope you like some of these.

Driving home afterwards I began to mull over in my head the whole process of learning and in particular learning through trial and error.

It became obvious to me that in order to learn something new, you really have to leave your pride at the door because you are probably going to look like a fool for your first set of attempts. And while there weren’t all that many people around there were enough to give me a little bit of a complex. Making me feel self-conscious at my stumblings.

Getting through this feeling of being pathetic is truly essential and giving up should never be an option. Once you break through the barrier and begin to realize some of the learning, there is a sense of pride that follows that more than makes up for the initial feelings of awkwardness.

I think this is one of the reasons that children are such great learners … they don’t worry about looking foolish while they learn. Us older folk focus too much on what other people think and how we look in the process. And it really limits our ability to learn.

Success is never guaranteed and while that is indeed the end-goal of the learning process, sometimes it is the learning experience itself that turns out to be of greatest value.

How we draw from life’s experiences is an essential quality of self-growth and good and bad experiences contribute to the person we end up as. I used the phrase “end up” but in truth we should never “end up” until life’s light expires within us.

All of life should be a learning process and to those with an open heart and mind, it is.

Here’s hoping this coming weekend puts a learning experience your way and if it does, don’t be afraid to look a little goofy along the way. After all, Goofy was one of Walt Disney’s greatest creations.

Moment in the Sun

He stood there all night. Alone in the dark. Waiting for his moment in the sun.

And as the low sun cast its reach under the heavy canopy of trees, it touched him. For just a few minutes.

He felt its warmth surround him and for just those few minutes, he felt his short life was indeed worthwhile after all.

Sometimes, when we feel alone and struggling to be seen, it is good to remind ourselves that even a lowly mushroom will eventually get his moment in the sun.

Hang in there and have a wonderful week!

Leaving a trace

So, I knew it wasn’t likely to be spectacular, but the sunrise choice this morning was either to stay put in front of my PC or to grab my coffee and go watch the sunrise at the ball-field.

I chose the latter obviously, and there is something about downing your coffee while watching the sun come up. Aided by a soft breeze and the fresh air filling my lungs in between caffeinated sips, I entered the weekend in wonderful fashion.

The ball-field is still closed from last week’s tornado but that didn’t stop me climbing over the “do not enter” tape and making sure I could exact whatever sunrise Mother Nature chose to share with me today. The fact that she got her feathered minions to aid in my shot was very much appreciated and I hope you like!

But the inspiration for today’s blog didn’t come from the sunrise, actually. It was when I got back home and took a little stroll around my yard with my best friend Coco by my side (see the pics at the end of this) that the thoughts began to play properly around inside my head.

We came across a plant (commonly called a Ginger Pinecone, or Bitter Ginger) that all of a sudden started growing in my yard the year before last. It’s a tropical plant and is commonly used in cooking or in hair treatments in such exotic destinations as Hawaii.

But the origins of my plant are not from such far away places … it happens to be growing where Mrs Brisby used to sleep the year before last. Mrs Brisby was a gorgeous doe that graced my life for a just over a year ago.

We engaged in conversations (admittedly mostly one-sided) and shared food on her daily visits. She showed me her baby fawn one evening before they both disappeared from my life and I felt privileged … almost part of the family, even.

So, however she left the seed behind in that one corner, she ensured that each year, I will think of her and revisit our shared memories thanks to this perennial ginger plant.

And the whole thing got me thinking this morning about how we touch lives and leave traces or marks behind us when we are gone.

Within families and friends our traces typically stay a generation or two and those who seek fame try to leave a mark in history that lasts “forever”. In truth, there is no worthwhile trace that can be left forever as all feeling and sentiment fades quickly, with only a token black and white definition left beyond that for even the most ardent of history makers.

For example what do we really know of Julius Caesar as a person … what his emotions were, how he treated his loved ones, or what his friends and family really thought of him and their time together?

So the real measure of us as a person is not in a historical reference but in the impact that we have in those around us while we are alive. It is why love is such a powerful ingredient in the make-up of each human being. Love for family and friends, love for all living creatures, and love for the planet that we temporarily get to live on.

If we mute that ingredient while we fill our pockets, seek control, and build walls, then we miss the point of life entirely.

Even Mrs Brisby knew the true value of life and whether she deliberately planted a seed for me or inadvertently just left her trace in a more natural happening, she left behind a friendly trace that will remind me of our time together long after our direct encounter.

Do we leave such reminders behind us? Do we leave a trace or a memory that brings a smile to others when they think of us?

Do we leave a little creature living and raising their family somewhere because we chose to make a difference? Do we leave a wild plant blooming somewhere because we gave it a safe environment in which to grow?

I guess what I am trying to say is that if we don’t, then we should.

Leave a positive trace somewhere this coming week …. make the world a better place for your having been here!

Taken for Granted

I was doing a shoot on Friday night at my home studio when two mildly remarkable things happened. Firstly all four of our phones blared with the emergency siren of a tornado warning and then about ten minutes later, we completely lost power.

In truth we were all so unmoved by the event that we continued to shoot by candle light for another half hour before everyone gathered their stuff and went home.

When I went in home, Morgan and I mused about how strange it was to lose power and how long it might be. I suspected it would be back overnight and, unworried, went off to bed.

When I awoke to a powerless and dark morning, I went down to the office where my two cats looked outside into the pouring rain and darkness and decided they were having none of it.

Apparently they have more sense that me, because top of my list of priorities was coffee and as the black of night turned to rainy grey of the morning, I jumped in my car and headed off to McDonald’s to get a large black one.

As soon as I turned out onto the main road, reality came quickly into focus. There were downed power lines everywhere and tree debris all over the road. The farm beside us (about a half mile south) had been hit by a tornado and here are some images that shows not just what the farm buildings looked like but also the trail of debris that carried across the road and a distance of about 300 yards into the newly built softball diamonds.

Police had just blocked off the road at the farm so reaching McDonald’s was out of the question. So after taking these images, I did the obligatory u-turn and headed to the next nearest McDonald’s a few miles north. I only got a mile up the road when I saw that the tornado had also hit roadside there, uprooting trees and taking down numerous power lines in the process.

The extent of the damage on my house is shown in the last of the images, a lone leaf had been mercilessly torn from a tree and landed on my windshield.

So at this point in the blog I could write about how fortunate I was that the tornado hit a half mile south and one mile north of me. Or I could write about how I overcame all this adversity to eventually get that McDonald’s coffee.

But no, the truth of thought really came later in the day as I went through a full day without electricity. Luckily it came back after being off almost 24 hours but the day descended into misery quite rapidly. Loss of power in Florida means no AC, which any modern Floridian will tell you is not a particularly pleasant experience. But for me it also translated into loss of water (I have a well with electric pump) , rapidly followed by the inability to flush a toilet.

So the real thought that this experience created was about how we humans repeatedly take things for granted, as though we are unequivocally entitled to them.

Material losses such as what I experienced yesterday are commonly reminded to us, as power outages, water and plumbing disasters, or occasional leaves on our windshields pretty much happen to us all.

Somehow we deal with them, or moan about them, but then once they are over, we return to mere acceptance of their presence. Carrie told me of a conversation she had with her daughters a few weeks ago, where they just couldn’t understand that a world existed without cell phones and internet. The whole concept of landlines and writing letters was entirely lost on them.

There is a whole generation oblivious to the thought that life existed in a fashion without all this and so they just take for granted that it is there and always will be.

But interestingly enough that is not the message in my mind today.

Because as yesterday wore on and my internal moans fell on my own deaf ears, I began to unravel the rest of the puzzle.

It isn’t just material things we take for granted .. it is truly everything.

I had the stark reality (as we nearly all do eventually) of realizing that my Mom and Dad wouldn’t always be there for me. As I became a middle-aged orphan, the fact that I took them for granted for so much of my life came and firmly slapped me in the face.

I expanded the thought and look beyond my own private world and I am incredulous at how so many people take for granted that the planet we all live on, will always be there. Resting on this assumption, affords many the latitude to destroy so much of it with carelessness and abandon. Hundreds of living species extinguished by governments and industries that frankly couldn’t give a shit.

I also suspect (completely without proof) that the vast majority of people go through their lives taking for granted they will live forever. That their life will always be there. As absurd as that thought is in the cold light of day, very few approach their lives in the knowledge that it is a quantified item. That it will actually run out.

They just take for granted that they will open their eyes tomorrow to a new day and they can dealt with whatever needs to be dealt with then. But each of us knows that there are no such guarantees.

Do we take these things for granted because it creates a false sense of security that allows us to close our eyes in the first place?

Quite possibly … but while none of us should work to the assumption that today is our last day alive, we should also respect the possibility that it may well be.

Willful blindness to the opposite leave important things unsaid and critical things undone.

My advice for what it’s worth today is tell those you love that you do. And do what you can today to make the planet a better place for you having lived on it. Others will have to live on it, once you are gone.