Though initially on my driveway, I saw a few stars overhead, I knew it was a cloudy morning.

It was still an hour before twilight even, so looking up was a futile exercise in almost pure darkness.

Nonetheless I decided to take my first coffee of the day off to the lake. I honestly didn’t care if there was no sunrise, I just needed to escape the house and the PC.

When I got there, I was the first person there. Which isn’t that surprising. All the sane people are likely still in bed at that time of a Saturday morning.

Then as I got out the camera and was attaching it to the tripod, a couple came by on bicycles. It was really only the lights on their bicycles that I saw, in truth. But when I said good morning, a male and female voice replied so by the powers of my amazingly powerful deductive reasoning, I determined it was a couple.

As they took up positions at the end of the little pier, this is all I could make out:

All my naked eyes could see.

Thankfully the A7 is notably better than my eyes in low light so it captured a few shots worth sharing. They are at the end of the blog. The cloud cover was insanely thick though, so none of these shots are particularly good.

Hope you enjoy, though.

Anyway, by looking at the viewfinder I quickly realized that while the guy was rod fishing, the young lady was hooping. She had started up her music and began swaying to its rhythm and it brought my mind back to happier days with Brittany. She would often hoop at the same lake at sunset and the memories came flooding back.

It’s been almost a year since she died and while most of my recollections of her since have been on a sadness scale, this wasn’t.

And the thought for today’s blog was hatched there on the pier, as opposed to my normal thinking stage while driving home.

You see, I realized immediately that this young lady hooping had triggered my memory into recalling Brittany and because it was purely a hooping trigger, it was simply a good memory, without the normal overwhelming feelings of loss and sadness.

Triggers are an important part of our mental process and though they are generally outside of our control, they can be pretty powerful in their ability to over-ride what is currently front and center within our brain.

While triggers can be situations or events like this morning, they are often just a smell, a taste, a song, or a video even. Something that our brain has associated with the object being triggered, at it was stored away in memory for recall.

When we choose to remember someone or something, we don’t get to assign the trigger. We are not inputting with a computer memory and assigning a value in a field that is part of a look-up table. Memories are mostly formed without our input, often without our knowledge, and always without our consent.

Now, there are things that we can force ourselves to learn. We can study and repeat until something is committed to memory but that is not what I am talking about.

And unless you have been programmed by the CIA to suddenly emerge from subconscious and assassinate someone, you won’t have triggers associated with such learning either.

No, I am talking about triggers that provoke an immediate recall within our brain of a person or moment, as if they were just there and we had just witnessed them.

For example, any Frank Sinatra experience (a song, an image, an article) always reminds me of my mom and her complete infatuation with ol’ blue eyes. It is indelibly printed in my brain, her wonderful obsession, her repeated listening to his songs, the many books of him on her shelves in the living room, and of the one visit he made to Ireland and how she traveled 120 miles on crutches from a broken leg to see him.

I don’t know how many triggers my brain has nor how many are good ones. But I am aware that there also triggers that are bad ones.

Triggers of an experience that will sadden me or make me cry.

I am pretty sure we all have them.

And it is important to recognize a trigger for a bad memory when it happens. What was it that caused us to respond to where we have suddenly become saddened or hurt, completely out of the blue?

These triggers will make something appear in our mind as if it has just happened and so the level of negative feeling associated with it can be very strong … even on something that happened ten years ago.

So, when we recognize a trigger for something negative, we need to identify it and create an understanding of why it has provoked such a response. And if we can, we need to try to avoid such a trigger in the future.

It may not be avoidable … many of them are not.

But some are and we need to ask ourselves if the presence of certain stimulus are worth having in our lives when compared with the negative responses they can trigger.

I have known very close friends to have deliberately kept their child’s room exactly as it was, just before their child were killed.

Every time they pass by that room, or enter it, they are immediately catapulted back into the loss all over again.

We each travel our own road and live a life that is full of memories created along the way. That is why our brain has a recall function, so that we can deliberately remember a memory and draw from it as part of our life experience.

But it needs to be recalled when we are looking for it. Not at random.

It is one of the things I absolutely fucking hate about my iPhone and Shutterfly and social media services. Periodically they conjure up these stupid collection videos like “this day in 2016” and parade all sorts of stuff in front of us, some of which we simply don’t want to see.

The number of dead friends and lost creatures that have been thrown up at me in this manner is significant.

So, I guess what I am saying is this. So much of our lives is outside our control. Including much of our own memories. Taking control of our memories can be a very positive step for those of us that have some negative memories worth avoiding.

… just a thought!

That Little Voice

I needed to get to Circle B and I needed to flex my big lens again. It had been a couple of months since I did either and I wasn’t happy with my lazy choices.

You see, when I go to Circle B, my walk will always be a few miles. Depends on which trail I take as to exactly how many, but whatever one I choose, there is always some walking involved.

This morning, I was up early enough and arrived at the reserve around 6:15 and I was pleasantly surprised that the gate was open. I honestly thought it wouldn’t be, as sunrise was still over an hour away.

I pulled into the parking space and noticed one other car in the whole lot but I didn’t see the owner. Just as I stepped out in near total darkness, I saw a large black hog run by me.

OK, I am making it sound like he was very close and he was probably about six or eight feet away in reality. I was startled and I clearly startled him. He looked at me and I told him how gorgeous he was and then he walked away into the darkness.

When I got the lens and camera sorted and set out on foot, it was so dark I honestly couldn’t see where I was going and I inadvertently headed in the wrong direction.

Once I found a marker, I knew that I should actually be walking in the opposite direction, so I turned about and did that.

For the first five minutes, I was walking on a section that takes you in among trees and ultimately leads you to a trail which is more in the open. But for those five minutes, I could see about ten feet in front of me and that was it.

So in the middle of that., I stopped, pointed the camera at the darkness and took this shot. My eyes could see nothing but this is what the camera saw:

My eyes saw darkness with a few stars and a hint of the moon. This is what the camera saw.

This is what I love about the Sony A7 …. it’s low light sensitivity is amazing.

Unfortunately for me, as soon as I took the pic, the mosquitoes found me. I had opted to finish the bottle of spray that doesn’t work, in some stupid hope that these final squirts might actually deter the mosquitoes, but surprise … it didn’t.

This is a pure sign of abject stupidity … repeatedly trying something that you already know doesn’t work.

To say I was annoyed at myself would be an understatement. I lasted about fifteen more minutes and tried to outrun them, but it was purely miserable. Apparently their favorite food in the dark is the blood of stupid Irish people.

So as the sun started to define the sky a little, I walked very briskly back to my car, determined to go home.

I hadn’t even attached the 600 mm lens yet, but I didn’t care. The shots I took with the super wide 11 mm one would have to suffice.

When I got back to the car and jumped in, finally escaping the incessant whining noise of these savages, I had this nagging little voice in my head saying “Come on Neville. Put on the big lens and take the trail down by the lake. Don’t give up yet, there may be an amazing moment just waiting for you to capture it.”

So, being the optimist, I listened to the voice, got the big lens on the camera and headed off on the trail that leads to the lake.

Before you head off to the gallery at the end of this, let me quickly point out THE VOICE WAS WRONG … there was no amazing shot and at best the shots I got were fair to middling. But hey, they are there at the end of the blog if you want to see for yourself.


Anyway, the thought in my mind as I drove away was to do with this voice.

Sometimes it is wrong and sometimes it is right and though it was wrong this time, it might well be right next time.

So I will always listen to it.

It is part of my core system of belief that we have an inner sense within all of us that tries to tell us when something feels right or feels wrong.

We may not be able to concretely define why something might be either, but our gut feeling is nonetheless a very valid source of advice.

Of course, the voice is really just a refection of our own instinct and this instinct is mostly created based on past experiences as well as a collection of fear/flight triggers. So it is really only our own voice.

When it starts to be someone else’s voice, feel free to call your psychologist and let them know Neville sent you.

But as long as it is your own voice, then the subconscious part of you is trying to speak and you should always listen.

Yes, it will be occasionally wrong. And that is because we are not robots or computers. We are humans that sometimes make mistakes and incorrectly analyze a situation.

But not listening to your inner voice is not just stupid, it can also be quite dangerous. Don’t get in the back of that white van just because the stranger needed help.

If that happens and you aren’t hearing a little voice telling you not to do so, don’t worry. This is simply Darwinism at play and your flawed family line needed to be extinguished anyway.

To rely totally on the five physical senses you have is simply put, a foolish way to go through life. You are ignoring the benefit of your past experiences and also the experience that has been built into your DNA to warn you against certain situations.

Whenever I fail, I fail despite listening to my inner voice. I would never want to fail and then mourn how “I wish I had listened to my inner voice. I just knew it felt wrong.”

I can’t abide people who suffer some kind of a disaster and then are quick to tell you how they knew it was going to fuck up somehow.

It fucked up because you are a fuck up. You knew better but didn’t listen.

… just a thought!