Day seven of our medicine vigil with poor little Beauty and I bring her to the vet later this morning to get a one-week-check on how her eye is doing. Fingers crossed it looks much better to me, but then again I have a (strong) vested interest.

Anyway the point to that bit of information is that every morning for the past week, I have had to get up around 3:30 so that Morgan and I can administer the eye ointment. Exhaustion is setting in, but if we get the desired end-result, it will all be worth it.

So, by 4:15 this morning all the kitties had been fed and I found myself sitting in front of the computer catching up on the news.

Within a half hour, I had read all the bad news I could take and so I decided what the hell, let’s see what Mother Nature conjures up for sunrise this morning. So, I grabbed the camera and headed off for Lake Mirror this time.

Lake Mirror is just a few blocks off downtown in Lakeland and when I got there around 5:30, it was just me, myself , and I … coffee in hand, waiting for the skies to offer up some kind of definition.

I amused myself in the darkness with the Seasons Greetings display that Lakeland had set up on the eastern shore. It took me a few takes to get that one shot, running back and forth to the camera on a ten second delayed shutter release.

The benefit of doing this at that time in the morning is that no one is around to see you in the height of your foolishness.

The only settings that I messed around with on the camera this time were shutter-speed and aperture. I admit to being a real fan of the long exposure images. The first four of these were all shot at 13 seconds exposure, by the way.

Anyway, I hope you can appreciate the colors that we got treated to this morning … enjoy!

Meanwhile, as I drove home I was pleased with the shots and in particular about how the reflections in the lake played such a big part in the success of most of them.

In photography, reflections are one of those magic elements that truly can enhance most settings. It is why in most movies when they are shooting city scenes at night, they nearly always wet the streets beforehand. You probably knew that already.

I use reflections as much as I can get away with them … water, glass, metal, I nearly always seek them out when I am trying to make something appear more beautiful than it otherwise might.

I remember one time down at Lake Parker, when the winning reflection was actually of me within the eye of an alligator. I guess a 3 foot distance mightn’t have been the wisest choice of my career.

But reflections that occur outside photography are much most meaningful. Rather than just a nifty way to enhance a moment, they can built greater character and help us move forward on a better path through life.

People with no conscience never reflect. They don’t question themselves and would learn nothing from a moment of reflection on a past word or deed, anyway.

But the rest of us are very much aware that as human beings, we are essentially flawed and therefore likely to have made mistakes throughout our lives.

When I reflect, I do so in a genuinely critical fashion. I don’t pull punches or make excuses for myself. So, I tend to be a bit more extreme in this than I should be.

But reflection that looks at a situation that we were in and subsequently asking ourselves if our action or approach was entirely correct … well, that is an excellent mechanism to self-evaluate from the perspective of hindsight.

People will tell us not to live in the past and while that is fundamentally good advice, we also cannot ignore our past. It is a real-life learning tool from which we can alter our approach to situations that we encounter in our future.

Not only does this reflection come from a hindsight that gives us a perspective on how life has subsequently played out, but we can also be more objective in our review as we are no longer in-the-moment ( making decisions under whatever conditions were present at the time).

Objectivity is a requirement in almost any realistic review. In self-reflection, objectivity can have the same effect as the long exposure shots had on the lake surface. It provides a much clearer understanding of that moment in time.

I shudder at some of my mistakes and would never admit them out loud. I have swept them under the rug and they will stay there until I die.

But, the point is, I know they are there. I can see the lumps even if no one else can. And I know what created the lump, so hopefully there is less likelihood of me making the same flawed situation in the future.

I don’t expect myself to be perfect for the future. But I do expect myself to be better. I gave up thinking I could walk on water long before I reached the lake this morning.

“Better” is a condition we should all be aiming for. Life should be a progression and the best place for most of our flaws is in the past. But to have them in the past, we must first know what they are. Only then does the “are” become “were”.

When Nietzche wrote that “all truly great thoughts were achieved while walking” he was merely pointing out that any future greatness comes from being able to quietly reflect on the past.

And when it comes to self-reflection, the best thing to do is look at ourselves coldly in a mirror. If you see something perfect, then you need to try opening your eyes.

Charles Bukowski said it most candidly, when he wrote “I often stood in front of the mirror alone, wondering how ugly a person could get.”

Now that’s a mirror!

… just a thought.