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Dragonfly-Inspired Clarity

Posted Dec 21 2013 7:10am
So my older daughter and I pop into Nate's glassblowing studio yesterday, the one where we took that class before she left for college in August, the one where molten glass transformed before we transformed. And there this is. Something new that Nate had made. A dragonfly, the metaphorical symbol of change. Stunning, delicate, intricate, and completely mesmerizing. (I immediately think of the dragonfly mention in Roots and Wings .)

"This needs to be at the High Museum,"I tell Nate. And sure enough, he does have fine art aspirations. His glassblowing operation has only been open a little over a year, yet the quantity and quality of his pieces makes it abundantly clear this is a bona fide artist at work. What's more, this is a "true waters runs deep" kind of artist--a gentle, quiet person who speaks through his art, the kind of person you could perhaps walk past and not even realize the genius inside.

And this gets me thinking about one of the biggest joys that has happened for me these past four months since I first launched my street photography project, Around Atlanta in 180 Days . The slowing down and noticing people. The lines of their bodies. The movement of their arms as they walk. The shadows and light as they are "of" the time and place in which I find them. The quiet beauty that emanates. The chance encounters we perhaps have, where eyes meet and words are shared and somehow miraculously in this world of so many horrors two completely different lives intersect and find a common good. (Much of this is possible because I've left a predominantly car-based culture for one with more pedestrian activity.)

There have been other changes in me, as well.  Realizations, really.

1. I'm not very upscale, nor do I ever want to be. I'm a rubber-hits-the-road kind of person who always has dirt under my fingernails and sweat on my brow. As such, I live in the wrong place and am planning a move in about five years (for specific logistics reasons) to somewhere I believe I can live my values more fully. I didn't realize certain things when I moved where I did, I have tried to make the best of it and have found a lot of good, and I accept that there is a limit to how much I can squeeze a square peg into a round hole. My family is with me on this. There will be no more pining away about this on this blog. The ball is in motion.


2. I actually live a very conservative life. I don't like to party, I'm not a big spender, and I go to bed early. However, I literally require artistic richness. It is the air I breathe. I need color, creativity, and innovative expression. I tried to bring these aspects to my local community garden when I was involved with that, but it went over like a lead balloon (see That Happy Place between Whimsy and Tacky Where Every Soul Can Soar ). I understand why now, and I know how to find it and grow it in my life now. And I'm doing it, without apologies and without permission.

3. I like diversity. I like diversity in people, thought, and experiences. I don't participate with angry groups claiming "pro" or "con" because I see both sides. That might be part of being a lefty and being bi-lobal. Or perhaps it's in being a writer and wanting to understand the full range of motivations. I don't know. I don't care. I just have no interest in sharp divides or constant negative energy. There is far too much commonality in the human experience. There is far too much joy in the journey for that.

I had a cancer scare recently. (I'm fine--I never had a diagnosis of cancer--I simply had an overactive imagination, and being a Virgo doesn't help). However, things are even more clear now. Each day is an extraordinary gift. Kindness matters. Living the lives we're meant to live, and doing the good we were born to do, is really all there is.

And so, I will. And I invite you to do so as well, wherever you may live on our shared FoodShed Planet.

Here are some of the recent daily photos from Around Atlanta in 180 Days. The first school semester has ended , and it has been a positive experience for my whole family beyond my expectations. Thank you, Atlanta and Pittsburgh, for your open arms and warm embrace of all members of my family. I have fallen in love with both of you.




eclectic food-for-thought for a changing world
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