Silver Linings

Yesterday morning I went downtown Tampa to shoot senior pictures for a friend graduating high school this year.

Like tens of thousands of kids across the country, her final year at school is muted without ceremony, without prom, and all the grandeur that year brings to the lives of Americans.

Generations of Americans created a culture of celebration that became a real marker for their lives. It was something that didn’t exist in Ireland when I grew up so from the outside it appeared frivolous to me and often times in excess.

But at the same time, I respect the culture that focuses importance on this time of life and its meaning to millions of people all across the nation.

So, perhaps I am the least qualified person to write musings about its loss this year. On a personal level though, I feel for those who feel hard done by and if I had a son or daughter graduating, no doubt I would feel it more.

We had a lovely morning … a perfect day for a shoot and she was gorgeous and shot really well. Hopefully these pics will play a minor part in her memories of this time of her life.

Traffic in and out of Tampa was a breeze. Extraordinarily light for a Friday morning. And parking was free and simple and couldn’t have been closer to where we were planning on shooting.

In one sequence of shots she donned a mask, to mark the event that compromised her celebrations and so this becomes the only image I wanted to include in this blog.

As I drove home, again in incredibly light traffic, I began to think of all the horrible losses of these past few months. Loss of life. Loss of jobs. Loss of stability. Loss of security.

The news is filled with it and (despite the dotard’s “it’s all media hype” position) rightly so. The gravity of the situation should never be allowed to be spun for political or geo-political gain. The loss is too great for that.

But (and there is always a “but”) it is equally important for us to understand that not all is doom and gloom. There are some very definite silver linings to what is happening that we should recognize and embrace. And possibly even adopt when all is said and done with this pandemic.

That traffic yesterday was notably better. And the parking exceptional. And so, even on that tiny superficial level, there were things to smile about.

Zoom out and view the effect that this is having on the world around us. The planet is breathing and doing much better. Fossil fuel burning has been dramatically reduced as cars are staying at home. Waterways are clearing up and fish breathing as the insatiable tourism industry takes a back seat.

Junk mail in our mailboxes has dropped significantly so fewer trees are being cut down for the reckless print industry.

Businesses are migrating towards online technologies that do away with pointless meetings and nonsensical trade conferences. So not only do the humans involved get to spend more time with loved ones, but the destructive travel and hospitality industries reduce their pollutive and wasteful effects on the planet.

Even our retail acumen focuses us more on essential or near-essential products and services. Why is this a benefit? Simple: it allows us to base our lives more about needs than wants. And “wants” are the “Achilles heel” of humanity that drives greed and gluttony.

Even purely at a mask level, it turns out that they bring an advantage as they become a looks-leveler as we encounter strangers in grocery stores. I call it the burka-effect of beautification.

And in the meantime at home, each one of us gets to love our loves, tackle our lists, refocus our lives, and plan for a different future.

Now, I am not naive enough to think that all of these changes will be permanent. But I am sensible enough to think that some of it should.

The human species was never meant for mass movement across a planet on the scale that our travel industry has afforded us. Tens of thousands of people convening for mass conferences is not just outdated and absurd, but it is resource-wasteful. There is no need for each to recover any time soon.

Adapting technology that leaves more of us working from home is not just time and stress advantageous, but it is also gentler on a planet as the pollution from every day rush-hours are reduced. There is no need for this to return any time soon either.

So yes, silver linings abound on a personal, communal, and planet level. So when we are done mourning our dead and healing our sick, let’s also hit the reset button on how the living live.

Never Enough

I have continued to knock things off my list these past few weeks. I promised myself that a forced downtime wasn’t acceptable and I became determined to address the things that I have been meaning to get to, but haven’t.

It’s not so much a bucket list as a list of things that I honestly thought I would have done by now. And the problem with things like that is that they build up inside of you as a measure of self-failing.

And frankly, I don’t easily accept self-failing. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely fail … lots of times. The number of my failures surpasses my victories and then some.

But there is a different aspect to self-failure. Self-failure is when you miss your own goals, let your own self down. No outside element; neither a demand or a consequence.

My dad taught me a long time ago that being good at anything or comfortable in a certain position, is not good enough. We should always push ourselves to be better and never rest on our laurels.

So, at the end of each year, in recent years at least, I would look at myself and see the things that I never got around to completing or didn’t do good enough at. Then I would resolve to do them in the coming year and they formed the core of my resolutions each year.

Like most of us, I too would fall into the trap of always having too much to do and then de-prioritizing things. And five or six years later, I found myself carrying the same “overdue” list from year to year.

So this coronavirus period, where we have all faced restrictions that have limited us in some way, i made the decision early on that this was my chance to tackle “the list”.

There have been a couple of little things, but it’s the big things that I take real pride in. I finally finished my coffee table book (5 years late), created a new showcase website for my non-nature stuff (1 year overdue), and now today completed my memorial for our possum family (over a year late).

The latter was a real labor of love and pulling together the images and videos rekindled so many memories that it threatened to drown me in sorrow. But it also reminded me of some wonderfully happy memories and I clinged to those as the tears began to fall.

if you are interested, the site is and while I could never do these little angels full justice, I still emerged from the build with a sense of “I did my best”.

And here is the “heaven” that Morgan created for our lost ones:

Apart from the roller-coaster of emotions in working on it, I sensed it was probably good therapy for me. And I was right. It gave me a sense of closure on something that still is responsible for major scarring to my heart.

But now, instead of the scars being raw and painful, I will wear them with pride at the little lives that shared mine with me.

Most of us have lost loves along the way and while human loss can be huge and rightfully painful, losing little innocents, little loves that depended on us can be even more damaging.

I think part of the reason for this is that we have a responsibility over a little creature that we normally don’t have with another human. And there is a huge innocence in such a little creature to where we find it impossible to reconcile as anything other than a tragedy.

I think we continually try to find fairness in a world that is anything but. And so when an innocent is lost, we struggle with a counter-point that would somehow assuage the pain. There isn’t one.

That’s why losing a creature can in many ways be akin to losing a child. I don’t want to imply that there is an equal weight to the loss. but it is still a similar feeling that leaves many of the same questions unanswered.

With the possums, we went through a series of nine deaths that overwhelmed us and no matter what I could think or say, it was never going to be enough to muffle the screams from inside our souls.

So finally taking the time to create this little memorial was my way of trying to add some purpose to the times we spent together. I have attempted to voice the love that I feel for these little guys and if it translates eventually even in one person having a more caring view of possums, then I have succeeded.

The thought process that brought me to the blog this evening was really not so much about my own feeble attempts at something of significance. But rather, it was about how each of us encounters loss and grief but are left with little opportunity to vocalize it.

There must be millions of people who experience such grief but are then encouraged to bury it. Put it in a box and keep a lid on it. Here, take a pill, it will help you feel better.

Unvoiced grief will invariably lead to depression and to many that just means a stronger pill.

But grieving is good. It helps the soul to mourn a loss. Not to the point where it overcomes the sense of loss. But to the point where we give value to the importance of the loss.

It will never be enough to replace sad with happy. But that’s OK.

We are right to feel sad when we experience loss. That is what makes us human. We laugh, we cry. These emotions are there for a reason.

Tears are not just to vocalize a hurt but they are there to tell the world how important someone or something was to us. And that, in turn, reflects well on the object of our loss. The louder we cry is a statement of how wonderful we believed our lost one to be.

The weight of our loss is directly proportional to the weight of our love. So however we express it, we need to make sure that we express our loss as clearly as we express our love.

Bathing loss in tears from the heart is a balm that helps heal the soul.

UFO at sunrise

I decided to grab a quick sunrise at the lake this morning. The week has been challenging (to say the least) and I was in desperate need of some positive energy.

Mother nature never disappoints in that respect, so having fed all the kitties, I grabbed a coffee and the camera and headed off to Lake Parker.

I don’t know why I say “sunrise” because truth is, it is civil twilight that always holds the appeal for me. So, that is actually what I was chasing.

The powers that be had opened back up the boat ramp and the little pier, so thousands of us gathered, hugged, kissed, licked each other’s fingers etc. OK, OK, that was a slight fabrication. I just wanted to get the authorities worrying in case they ever stop and read this thing.

As I got there, there were a couple of guys in the process of launching their boat and heading out early, so they feature in a couple of the shots I ended up with. At the end of this blog is a selection that I hope brings some colors your way today. I hope you enjoy.

But first let me show you three pics that were taken within quick succession that I want to talk about. I was tracking a bird and trying to get him in frame with the boat, and they were all taken within a second or two of each other.

I have labeled them image 1, 2, and 3.

There is nothing special about the pics, other than when I looked at them on my PC when I got back, I noticed that in image 1 a strange object begins to appear in the bottom right side, is fully present in image 2 and then totally gone in image 3.

Now, I am not an alarmist, but unless someone can come up with a more credible explanation, my camera appears to have caught a UFO that is reflected in the water but not evident in the sky.

I have studied it and am at a complete loss to explain it as basic geometry indicates that it should be in the sky to the right of the two smaller clouds centered above the horizon.

So, why isn’t it there and more importantly, what is it, and then where did it go? For me at least, these are all puzzling questions. I can’t offer a definitive answer other than I can tell you there was nothing directly in front of my lens and the images are not doctored in any way. The rest is up to you.

Unidentified doesn’t necessarily mean aliens, of course. And if they were aliens, I am glad I didn’t get beamed up for a little anal probing. I still have a day’s work ahead of me.

But the thought that occurred to me (hence the blog) was that while I am genuinely not an alarmist or a conspiracy theorist, it seems perfectly logical to me that there are highly likely to be other forms of life out there. Not just in different universes, but even in different dimensions.

This self-glorifying concept that we are the most intelligent forms of beings and that we were lovingly created to be so, is frankly absurd.

In fact I am even reluctant to use the word intelligence at all when it comes to the human race. As a good friend says, so many of us are “dumber than a box of rocks”. So even within our own humiverse, intelligence is clearly questionable. (there you go, I’ve invented another word … look at me, I am so intelligent).

But we like to think of ourselves as so, because it allows the idiots among us to claim some advantage over “lesser” beings. My advice is whenever you encounter someone who has to let you know how intelligent they are, leave the room because you are experiencing the mental equivalent of braggers that inevitable reach for their zippers.

Intelligence, power, wealth, strength, etc. They all belong in the braggart’s world.

Caring, loving, helping, giving, etc. These belong in the real world. These are the qualities that really define us as humans.

Be as dumb as a box of rocks, but if you care, love, give, and help others, then these aren’t rocks … they are nuggets of pure gold.

I am reminded of the line from Galaxy Song in the movie, The Meaning of Life that reminds us that we should actually “pray that there is intelligent life somewhere up in space, because there is buggerall down here on earth!”

Here is the song, in case you’ve never seen that movie

Have a wonderful weekend and beware of aliens … apparently they are probing around Tampa Bay at the moment!

Fossils & Fragments

I laid a large mirror across the bed and put a roll of backdrop paper over a chair in an effort to create a little mini-studio and experiment with portable lights.

It was never going to win me any studio awards, but I had a number of fossils, agates, and crystals that I wanted to shoot, so I figured just to give it a try.

I had perched the camera on the other end of the mirror and was about to take my first shot when the phone rang and my five-year-old granddaughter Erin was calling me from her iPad.

At five, I think I was running around playing with a stick and pretending it was a gun, as were all my playmates. Times have definitely changed. Her mom was on a crazy 28 hour shift at the ICU, so Erin figured this was a good time to reach out and see what her Granddad Neville was up to.

The fact that we had a meaningful conversation that lasted over half an hour (just the two of us) is a true reflection on what a wonderfully intelligent young lady she is, but also she seemed genuinely interested in what I was trying to do.

I showed her the setup, explained what some of the issues would be for me, and she wanted to know why the lighting was worth experimenting with. Why I couldn’t just take the picture.

So I showed her the effect of moving the lights to front or back and she kept up with my argument quite easily.

At the end of this blog is the selection from my little project. Morgan had given me some really interesting pieces and rather than lose their significance in a bedroom, I wanted to try to do them some justice in capturing them for posterity here.

What you see here are millions of years old and sometimes I like to just hold them in my hand and try to feel the significance of the passage of time. it can be very humbling.

But the main train of thought that rumbled across my brain was in response to the innocent question that Erin asked. “What is a fossil?”

At the time she was looking right at the first of these shots, the fish.

So, understanding that I was talking with a five-year-old, I tried to find a way to describe how a living creature can become a fossil … while avoiding the whole concept of death.

In political terms, you would be proud of me for spinning the discussion so that I focused on the process that encapsulated the creature in what ultimately became rock. I spoke about dinosaurs and creatures that lived millions of years ago and how when they fell that the mud hardened, etc, etc.

“So they died” she said, without any fuss.

“yes, love, they did. But that isn’t a bad thing. It is just something that happens”. I avoided the “it happens to everyone” because I didn’t want to introduce her mortality or god forbid, my own.

Completely un-phased, she said “No, there is nothing bad about death” and she went on to tell me about someone that she knows who died and how sometimes people that Mommy tries to save at the hospital, well, they also die.

It was an enlightening moment. A moment when I realized that the fear of “the death thing” sat only in my head and not hers.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t fear death. Not at all. But I feared having to talk about it with someone that it might create fear within.

But, I needn’t have worried. Young people aren’t born with fear and it generally is absorbed from the people or events around them.

Fear of spiders or snakes, fear of dentists, fear of death.

Anyway she spoke of death for just a few moments and then moved on. The topic held no real interest for her. She was more interested in getting a better look at the fish.

After the call and after I had finished shooting the little bits and pieces, I was left with the running thought of how we get consumed with the whole notion of death and forget the notion of living.

We, individually and collectively, go to great lengths to extend the duration for which we live and forget the moments that go to making this life worthwhile.

But apart from loss of focus on the quality of our lives, it also establishes an end that, because we try so hard to avoid it, ultimately becomes something we fear.

The truth is that the fear becomes bigger than the moment itself and we can allow it to dominate our living years to our own detriment.

Fossils give us a very pointed reminder of how something that was once living just becomes a pattern within the planet that it lived on. The creature’s existence didn’t stop because it died. It just became something else.

Now, in fairness, most of us will not fall into mud as we die and then be discovered millions of years from now within the core of a piece of rock. That eventuality is highly unlikely.

But for us, the pattern we leave behind is the mark we have made within the souls and memories of those around us. Those whom we loved will carry forward their love for us until they too fall in the mud.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that the most important thing about living? That our love lives on beyond us.

Is there any relevance to our name appearing in a history book, or a street named after us? Of course, there isn’t. The triviality of such vanity is laughed at by those who understand the far greater value of love.

And generally speaking love is created within our living years. Created simply by how we treat others and the kindness we show to those who share the planet with us at our moment in time.

Some might argue that I am already a fossil. And there are days when I definitely feel like I am. But until I become set in stone, I work to make sure that those I love, know it.

Humans. Creatures. Planet.

Give it a try and watch the fear evaporate.

Lotus Rain

Like most everyone, I am sure, by the time another week of stay-at-home ended yesterday, my soul was screaming for escape. But yesterday throughout the Tampa Bay area, the whole day got consumed by a weather front that poured torrential rains surrounded by the heavy roll of thunder and threatening lightning.

The “eedjit” in me was out in the yard for a while building a second structure to keep the wild creatures dry so they could eat their food without getting soaked. And by the time I had finished I had definitely taken the soaking for them.

I am sure the neighbors must have thought I had finally lost what was left of my mind as they drove by this old fool dragging old bits of plywood and mental stands into place for no apparent reason.

By the time I had finished and put out the food for all the raccoons and possums and all my feathered friends, the jacket was quite soaked and the shoes were definitely a bit on the squelchy side.

Now at this stage of the story, others would have been tempted to call it a day and perhaps take a hot shower and change of clothes. But those of us with Irish blood running through our veins know that you should never let a wee bit of rain affect your plans.

And I didn’t. On the contrary, the rain opened up a thought in my head that made me wonder if the lotus had bloomed any further down at UT and what they might look like in the rain.

So, wet or not, I grabbed the camera, climbed into the car, and drove the 45 minutes into downtown Tampa … all in the name of art.

And I wasn’t disappointed. They had definitely opened up more since the start of the week and the beautiful drops on their petals completely outshone the drops that continued to fall on me and my camera as I stretched over the pond to capture their beauty.

There is a wonderful sense of achievement that us hand-held aficionados get when we manage to get a crystal clear shot of macro level while competing against the elements. But several of these shots delivered that reward to me and I hope you enjoy the collection I upload here.

There is even a couple of wayward tadpole shots … the pond was absolutely teaming with them, so it would have been wrong to omit them. And the other thing worth pointing out here is that there is no color correction or photoshopping done to these images … there was no need to. Yes, the camera shifted a white balance a couple of time to make a violet bloom turn blue but I let it. And why not?

So the thought that ran around my head (and there always seems to be one, doesn’t there?) was along the lines of how some people see rain as a deterrent while others see it as a gift.

Rain, both physically and metaphorically, is something that falls into everyone’s life at some stage and the wise choice is to embrace it. Don’t pull your hood up as it only restricts your view and don’t hide under an umbrella as you will miss the wonderful feel of it as it runs down your forehead and washes across your face.

Rain is not only a source of life to the planet but it can be a source of renewal to your soul also.

Our lives should never be all about sunny days. Yes, we all want as many sunny days and blue skies as we can get. But the more we get, the lazier and more complacent we become.

Some get so used to sunny days that they end up thinking it is their right. And they get indignant when a little rain falls into their lives.

There is an old saying that into every life a little rain must fall. And that doesn’t mean we should take it as a negative … that we should just grin and bear it.

No, we should embrace the rain and use it to renew our lives. Use it to refresh our soul and our approach to living. We should let it wash away our dreariness and step out and dance a little in it.

Each drop of rain brings a purpose to our lives and those who recognize that become better people for the experience and better able to handle to next downpour whenever it chooses to fall on us.

Right now, I have images of Gene Kelly running around inside my head (see here if you have forgotten ) and it wasn’t just an accident that rendered the umbrella as merely a dance prop. It was very much a statement of intent.

Time for each of us to sing and dance, I think. Go ahead, discard your umbrella and get wet a little this week!

Risk repaid

It had been a frustrating weekend with limited abilities to do anything that provided nourishment for my soul, so when I found out from the groundsman at UT that the lotus were starting to bloom, I promised myself I would make haste and get there to shoot whatever I could find.

I went there early this morning. Figured if the police had a road block setup, I would just tell them I was on my way to a gun store.

But I needn’t have worried … downtown was relatively busy considering everyone was supposed to be staying at home. But traffic was considerably lighter and parking easy to find.

The lotus flowers were not in full bloom yet, but I am not sure if that was the time of the day or the time of the season. I didn’t care though … they oozed beauty in the pond and the smell was as sweet as any florist shop I have visited.

None were near the edge of the pond though, which is probably just as well. There was evidence of broken stems near the pond-edge that bore witness to the mindless morons that had beaten my visit.

There were plenty just a few feet into the pond though and as they hadn’t really opened up yet, It meant that I had to become slightly acrobatic in getting the shots that I was looking for.

So, my one-handed camera skills finally came to use as I managed to avoid an early morning swim or worse still dropping my expensive alpha into the water beneath. Figuring out how to adjust focus and control the camera at arm’s length while perched perilously over water is actually a skill I have been in training for, these past couple of years, so I was really pleased with some of the shots that I got … hope they bring some beauty into your lives today.

As I drove away from my little adventure, I was quietly confident that I had gotten something decent and so I patted myself on the back for not just having the skills to run the camera with one hand, but also my willingness to risk loss (of camera and pride) in pursuit of capturing the moment.

There might have been a time when I was young when risk would make me balk at the pursuit. For example, as a late teen the risk of rejection was prime cause of my lack of dance partners and an enduring virginity.

But nowadays being much closer to death, risk seems frivolous in terms of deciding whether to do or not do something. But is it just longevity in years that plays the mitigator in our brains towards risk? I don’t think so.

I know some people even older than me (yes, there are a few out there, believe it or not) who come up with a million reasons not to try something. And for them, the fear of failure or ridicule makes them shy away from even the first sign of risk.

So, it can’t be age. No, what I think it really comes down to is experience.

What I mean is that if we have a lot of bad experience in past risks taken, then we may introduce a fear element into the next risk decision.

My mom would refer to me as her Cockeyed Optimist. She told me it was a phrase that she learned from the movie South Pacific and no matter what past fails, I always seemed to be willing to keep an eye open for the next opportunity to try.

I don’t really see myself in that wonderful light, in all honesty, but I loved that she saw that in me.

Our parents are a unique gift in our lives. They see such wonderful possibilities in the most dismal of us. I miss mine, horribly.

Anyway, I digress. Sorry.

Bad past experiences should definitely be something we think about but only from the perspective of learning from them. They should never be a reason to not try something new.

Life will give us as many outs as we look for. If we need a reason not to do something or not even try something, our brains will automatically flood with a list of why we shouldn’t even bother.

There will be no shortage of food for our fears, but in the end we only end up starving our adventurer-spirit until one day on our death bed we drown in the regrets of things never even having been tried.

We all have regrets and if you haven’t yet, then trust me, you ultimately will. But the regrets should only be of things we have done; not of those we never did.

By definition, the word risk means there is a possibility of failure, but wtf. So what if I fail? And then again, what if I succeed? How will I know, if I don’t even try.

Have a wonderful week!


Poor Lola grew incessantly bored with my failed attempts to find something to shoot this weekend. So she becomes the single image in today’s blog.

I had just copied over some blah images to my PC and was checking them out when I looked to my right and there she was; taking an essential nap, as cats often do.

So I know a single-image blog is a rather unusual event from me, but I’m afraid that is all this Monday morning is about to offer.

In truth I went down by the lake this morning but apart from the fact that heavy cloud cover stole any chance of morning colors, every place that I normally go to was shut off.

I find it strange that places like trails and lake access have been systematically closed across Florida, but thank gawd we have a governor that deems churches (venues of mass congregation) and gun stores (provisions for mass shootings) as essential services.

That such a position is tenable anywhere is a clear indication of how idiotic and distorted, red states like Florida have become.

Lock-downs and stay-at-homes are great ideas and have proven to be effective in helping to turn the tide. But taking away the chance to walk by oneself or simply take in a view, while helping those who want to get closer to their god or load their guns so they can bring us closer to ours … well frankly that is simply Floridumb.

I understand how politics have radicalized us all in recent times, but this is about common sense, not politics.

If there was ever a time to come to one with nature, this is it. Forcing us to step away from the rat race presents a wonderful opportunity to help us commune with nature. Natural trails and lakes provide us with an excellent opportunity to engage in social distancing, while filling our souls with much-needed nourishment.

But no. Apparently we are supposed to only sit in front of the TV or internet, in between visits to church and the gun store.

But hey, at least the governor had the “sense” to keep the beaches open for spring breakers. I mean, that was REALLY important, right? Spring breakers brought money and after all that is what red state politics has devolved to … gods, guns, and money.

For anyone left with common sense, the gravity of almost 50,000 deaths has been weighed against red interests and we just shake our heads.

We only get a voice every four years and so in between elections, we grimace at our own failures and the success of those gun-totin’, god-fearin’, money-grabbin’ folk who form a very vocal minority.

And yes, I said “minority” because each time those folk have won power in the past twenty years, they have done so with less votes than the losers.

So, if this is a democracy, where is our actual voice?

In fairness, the most vocal of blue folk are the young bernie-beings and those lazy fucks never bother to show up on election day. They bitch and moan at rallies but come election day they sit at home smoking weed and playing video games, while the old, white racists and misogynists arrive in bus-loads from their suburban and country homes.

Is it any wonder then, that this piece-of-shit old Irish boy can’t find anywhere to take pictures on a weekend? I shouldn’t have been surprised. Lola clearly wasn’t … she felt napping was definitely essential.


I was running a little late this morning and by the time all the babies had been fed, I looked at the time and realized I would never make it to the lake if I was hoping to catch the sunrise.

My arrival time needs to be 35 minutes before the actual sunrise, because the whole color thing for me starts happening around 30 minutes before the sun hits the horizon.

They call it civil twilight and much like time, it waits for no one.

Yes, there have been times I wish the world’s rotation could just slow down for a moment, when I am running a little late. But then everyone on the underside of the planet would fall off and drift into space, just because I couldn’t get my lazy ass out of bed on time.

So, accepting that aspect of control would be wrong I, like all of us, run on a clock that isn’t of our own making.

This morning then, the only realistic option was to stay closer to home. Knowing that I need water in my shots, meant that the softball fields on Walker Road was my only real option.

They are less than 2 minutes from my front door, so they generally even accommodate last minute decisions like this.

I hope you like this little selection of shots. They show the progression of color changes and I changed my perspective a couple of times to give the “frog’s view”. And btw in one of the last shots, I spotted a feather floating on the surface as I held the camera about an inch above the water. That was a really tough shot, not least because I am too fat to be bending that low without falling face-first into the water.

In any event, I didn’t fall in, much to the disappointment of the alligator about ten feet to my right. And as I drove back home, I mused over the role that time played in my decision this morning and how much it always plays a role.

We live our lives subject to time. From the moment we are born until the moment when our time here runs out.

Time defines our work schedule. It defines non-work activities. And for many people they struggle with finding the balance for both.

Not having enough time is a common complaint for most of us and so we end up having to prioritize things that we must or wish to do.

Time is responsible for our aging. Many of us look back to when we weren’t so fat or so old and wish we could reverse at least part of the process.

Time is also a key factor in our relationships.. Do most of us feel we spend enough time with our loved ones and do they feel we spend enough with them?

Time is one of the biggest characteristics of how we enjoy our lives. Do we spend enough of it on the passions versus the chores? Those who do, tend to live much happier lives than those who don’t.

So, while the passage of time and how much time we actually end up having are two aspects of time for which we have no control, it is important that we take as much control of the time-aspect that we can.

Many people waste time. They spend time doing useless or trivial things. Young people, in particular, behave as if their individual portion of time is endless. They don’t understand that time is a privilege, not a right.

Many people procrastinate and allow the time clock to run on important stuff while they pursue less-meaningful pursuits. While putting off decisions and not getting around to things, they ignore the fact that time will eventually take the opportunity away.

Older people often behave as if they already have run out of time. They use their age as a reason not to even try something.

What I have learned over the years is that the most important aspect of time is the here and now. This is the one piece of the timeline that we can absolutely affect.

Yesterday is already in the past and therefore is pointless to dwell on. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone and therefore pointless to defer to.

No; today is what matters. The here and now.

Doing what we need to do or wish to do … it all needs to be done now.

If there is someone you need to apologize to or tell them you love them; you need to do it now.

If there is something that you wish you had time to do, well you do. You have the “now”.

For many years I have believed that time is the enemy for all of us. We can struggle all we want with time, but eventually time wins and we lose. It’s an eventuality that exists for everyone on the planet and always will.

Therefore bearing the wisdom in mind that we “keep our friends close and our enemies closer”, we should always be aware of time.

Whatever goals we have in life, we should be working on them now.

It is a fool’s errand thinking that we will eventually get around to them. Because the truth is that time will eventually get around to us first.

Death is no enemy

In these days of stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and essential services only, it is easy to fall into a spiral of stress, anxiety, and depression.

But truth is, the world is still turning, the sun still rises, and life still goes on.

So I promised myself last night that if the sky looked even remotely ok that I would find a way to break orders and take my early morning cup of coffee down at the lake.

Once, I fed the babies, I did just that. Camera bag in the trunk of the car and cup of coffee in the drink holder I set off while the skies were like my coffee (and allegedly my soul) … pure black.

Half way there I could see that the skies were going to be clear, so the only real worry I had was whether the police would gun me down for breaking curfew. But I was fully prepared to tell them this was an essential trip as my soul was running on empty and badly in need of a refill.

I did get some neat shots of a clear-sky twilight and enjoyed the rich taste of the coffee as the birds broke silence and began to herald in the new day. A surfacing alligator got me to back up slightly from my water-level position but I hope you enjoy these shots regardless.

I drove home with my soul full and ready for another day in isolation. And it reinforced in me what I already knew. That despite our tendencies to worry and panic, life still continues all around us.

We are just a part of the natural world and try as we might to make existence about us, it isn’t. We are not as important as we think we are.

Yes, there are awful things happening out there and hopefully we make it through this without loss of our loved ones. But even if we don’t life will continue.

For some reason, in our evolution to extended life, we have somehow become so obsessed with living that we have made death our enemy.

In the past millennium we have nearly doubled our life span and there are some out there who seem to think that they should live forever. But we shouldn’t.

There is a natural cycle of life and death throughout all aspects of the natural world and despite our self-elevation, we are simply a part of that cycle.

So much of our lives have become fear-based. We fear other countries, so we pour billions of dollars into defense forces. We fear those that might take our guns away, so we vote in self-adoring dotards that undermine our other “rights”. We fear strangers, so we build walls.

We fear death, so we pump our veins full of pharmaceuticals that line the pockets of the wealthy class.

And yet the only real thing we should fear is fear itself.

Because it is fear that undermines our happiness and gets us to behave in the most inhuman of ways. Fear can rob us of living, which is really what life is supposed to be about.

Life may indeed be the opposite of death, but living isn’t.

New Perspectives

This morning was much ado about nothing. With work pretty much dead, the clouds outside and the resulting grey day very much matched my mood.

My initial thoughts before getting out of bed were to try to catch the sunrise, but when I pulled up the weather app on my phone, it was clear there wouldn’t be anything of the sort happening.

As the morning dragged on, I noticed that I was beginning to indulge myself and self-petty was rearing its ugly head. In these days of stay-at-home orders, it is easy to allow ourselves to mute our lives, particularly when aided and abetted by the weather.

Yesterday’s blog about making use of our free time began to fade into the background, as with my big project completed, I now needed to motivate myself forward into finding another on my list.

With lunch-time fast approaching (and not a child in the house washed), I grabbed my camera and went out into the yard to see if there was anything worth shooting. Coco was asleep on the front steps, Lola underneath the front steps, and Ruben was catching a cat nap on the rear steps.

So I slapped on a fish eye lens and managed to get a few pics before they had enough of the paparazzi and the annoyance I was causing.

I also took a few around the yard and I am adding them here … hope you enjoy.

I guess what became my blog thought out of this was how I adapted my initial doldrums and found something worthwhile to do. Even though initially nothing really looked worthwhile, I dropped the camera down very low to ground and just shot perspectives.

Sometimes we imagine that we see life the way it really is. But we forget that no matter what we see in front of us, it is only our perspective.

For example, the yard shots here are very likely what a mouse or squirrel might see as they hop from leaf to branch to tree, escaping those with a higher view than them.

Perspective is also why two people can witness the exact same incident unfolding (a crash perhaps) and come away with differing viewpoints on what they witnessed.

It is this singular fact that leads to there being no real truth in the world. At least not in a black and white sense. There is only perspective and the resulting interpretation.

It’s why history is never truth (as in it’s written by the victors), and why in battle everyone claims god is on their side. For example, should we be shocked that parts of the middle east see us as the great Satan, while we see ourselves as the voice of freedom?

But in a more personal sense, perspective is also why when we engage in arguments within our own immediate circles, both sides can walk away feeling totally aggrieved and right in feeling hurt.

That’s why the best tools to bring to a long relationship are the powers of forgiveness and the ability to forget. Self-conviction is a dangerous weapon to have in our makeup and rarely seen as a friend to non-idiots.

The ability to change perspective is on the contrary a very positive tool to have in our makeup. Finding a different way of looking at something and then adapting our approach is a path to success and eventual happiness.

Even inner-perspective is something that changes as we change. It is why we think we walk on water as children, but then later in life struggle to stay afloat.

These are not normal times and in times like this, we are best served by redefining “normal” to a level where we can draw some enjoyment from other avenues.

So when we wake up each morning, our perspective is a key ingredient to it being a happy day. If we begin our day feeling down or anticipating a poor day, then that is very likely how our day will go. If we change our approach and find a perspective that makes a stay-at-home order a bonus rather than a punishment, then we can give even a grey day a lift.

Try it.