Tag Archives: Contemplation

On the waterfront…

Today I went down to Buffalo’s Outer Harbor in search of the elusive snowy owl that has taken up home in Western New York. And no, I did not ride my bike the six miles each way in these frigid temperatures, I used Buffalo Car Share. To be honest, I actually contemplated it but am glad I did not…the high today was like 15F and when I got to the shore of the lake the wind was so strong that I had to lean into it and brace myself to take a photo…my hands were frozen (as I took my leather mitts off to adjust and snap the camera) and I had to remember to hold the lens cap (which is attached to the camera by a string) or the wind would whip it around and it would smack me in the side of the head. And I purposely went around dusk because this is when not only owls but other animals are said to hunt, but also so I could capture the natural blue hue of a winter’s cold sunset…but the temperature was dropping. Thus said, I have to admit that it was nice to find refuge in the warmth of a car in between photos. But alas, I did not see a snowy owl…or a fox, or a coyote, or a deer, or a falcon, or an eagle (all of which live in the area). In fact, the only “animals” I did see were other photographers in search of snowy owls. But, despite the wind burning and bone chilling cold, I really enjoyed myself and was in awe of the power of Mother Nature, and was (and still am) thankful to live in proximity to such an incredible natural resource (it’s a 20 minute bike ride in nicer weather). Anyhow, click any photo for a slightly larger view.


Urban Simplicity.

A Poem About Rain…

After the rain. 

The clouds hung low and heavy for most of the day.

They were gray and ominous.

The humidity was oppressive.

Then the evening came, and so did the rain.

It didn’t begin with a sprinkle, but a pour; a torrent.

It’s as if the heavens themselves were split open.

I ducked in a doorway to watch the rain.

There was no thunder, no lightening; just rain.

For fifteen minutes it came down like buckets.

And it fell on everything; nothing was spared.

All the buildings and trees were soaked.

So were the creepy things that crawl in the grass.

It washed away all the grime from a hot day.

And it washed away my stress and worries, too.

Then just as suddenly, it stopped.

Just like that the rain was over and the moon was out.

Now there was a slight mist coming from the warm sidewalk.

As I walked I could hear the wetness under my feet,

and I could hear the car tires in the street,

and I could hear the wet trees dripping with wetness.

It made me remember that I was not in control,

but that I was alive.

I felt free.

And this is what I thought about,

after the rain.

.

Urban Simplicity.

A Poem About Rain…

 

After the rain. 

The clouds hung low and heavy for most of the day.

They were gray and ominous.

The humidity was oppressive.

Then the evening came, and so did the rain.

It didn’t begin with a sprinkle, but a pour; a torrent.

It’s as if the heavens themselves were split open.

I ducked in a doorway to watch the rain.

There was no thunder, no lightening; just rain.

For fifteen minutes it came down like buckets.

And it fell on everything; nothing was spared.

All the buildings and trees were soaked.

So were the creepy things that crawl in the grass.

It washed away all the grime from a hot day.

And it washed away my stress and worries, too.

Then just as suddenly, it stopped.

Just like that the rain was over and the moon was out.

Now there was a slight mist coming from the warm sidewalk.

As I walked I could hear the wetness under my feet,

and I could hear the car tires in the street,

and I could hear the wet trees dripping with wetness.

It made me remember that I was not in control,

but that I was alive.

I felt free.

And this is what I thought about,

after the rain.
.

Urban Simplicity.

Notes to My Younger Self; Eleven Things I’d like to say.

Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

–Bob Dylan

Time goes so very fast doesn’t it? I remember hearing this when I was younger and not really paying it much attention, but the older I get the more true this seems to be.

I am a creature of habit, I always have been. And while I have moved away from Buffalo, NY—the city of my birth—a few times, and have done a bit of traveling, I have always called it home. I live in the eclectic and somewhat bohemian neighborhood known as Allentown—a village within the city—and I know it’s streets like the back of my hand. Some of the businesses I have patronized for decades. And this is what I was thinking while I was out for a couple beers the other night at one of my favorite watering holes.

As I leaned against the bar, which is so old that it in itself is leaning, I thought about the three decades that I’ve come here. In my younger years I would visit late-night for serious partying, but these days it’s mostly just a beer or two in the early evening. And I’m not sure what made me think of this one night in particular, but I did. I was likely about 22 or 23 at the time and had driven here from the suburbs by myself. I was still living in my parent’s house, though they had both passed away by this time. Anyhow, I’m not sure why I remember this night—as nothing out of the ordinary happened—but it came to mind. I can even remember what I was wearing…parachute pants (remember them?) tucked into combat boots (keep in mind this would have been the early eighties and I was heavily influenced by The Clash…watch this video). And on this night I was leaning against the bar just a few feet from where I now stood, albeit 30 years later.

In those days the thought of being 52 years old would have been inconceivable…an old man. At the time I thought I was so grown up—I’ve often felt older than my years—but in retrospect I was just an uncertain young man. I was rebellious, crazy, and wild, but I also carried the weight of the world on my shoulders; and I had so much unresolved grief. But no one probably knew this because even then—just as now—I have the ability to put on a different facade, the face I believe people want to see. And now—so many years later—I had the fantasy of going back and offering my younger self some useful advice.

I imagined standing next to my younger self and having a beer and gently telling myself things that would help me along the way. After all, who would no better than me? Many people write themselves notes (I know that I do)..a sort of “note to self” so they don’t forget something. Well this is a sort of note to self in the retrospective sense…truly trying to remember who I was meant to be as I walk this planet.

It is said that with age comes wisdom. While this may be true, I at times still feel like that uncertain and confused young man. But being more than twice as old as I was then, and knowing myself better now than I did then, I feel I would have some good advice to offer my younger self. And these are some of the things I would say (in no particular order).

1. Don’t worry. For the most part everything works itself out. If you have your health that is enough. You may have heard this a thousand times but it’s truer than true.

2. Cherish relationships. Family, friends, acquaintances, all of them. Over the years people drift apart or in and out of your life. People get sick and die. Cherish them all because you never know when the next time you’ll see each other.

3. Spend your time wisely. When you are younger there is so much time for everything. But as you get older you will realize that time is your most valuable commodity. Spend it wisely.

4. Be kind to people (everyone) and don’t hold grudges. The only one you will be hurting is yourself.

5. Don’t take yourself—or life—too seriously. As you start to fall into certain roles (because you will whether you like it or not) don’t take yourself too seriously. Life can be so fleeting and the years go by quickly. Enjoy it.

6. Relax. Yup, it’s that simple. I know that you are a driven person, and a creative person, but allow yourself to relax now and again. Just…do nothing.

7. Don’t suppress your creativity. You are an extremely creative person (we all are) and as a child it is expressed so freely, but as we get older this is sometimes stifled (and in so many ways). Creativity is what makes our souls jump withing these bodies that we currently occupy. So just do it. Create. Write, draw, paint, play music…whatever makes your heart sing.

8. Live in the present moment (and enjoy the journey). I don’t mean to keep harping on this but it is true, life can be so fleeting so just enjoy every minute of it. This, I truly believe is why we as eternal souls have incarnated into these human forms…to experience life. All of it; the good and that bad. It’s not about the destination but the journey itself. Enjoy it. Every minute of it. Never lose your sense of wonder. Embrace it.

9. Don’t try to be someone you are not; be yourself always. Throughout life people will try to fit you into certain roles and identities, and you yourself will try to make yourself fit into roles and identities that you are not meant for, but don’t do it. Be yourself. Always. It may be difficult sometimes—really difficult—but just be yourself. To everyone and all the time. Years from now you will be happier for it. Be your authentic self.

10. Embrace the fact that you are an introvert. It will take you many years to accept this, and many more thereafter to realize you are an INFJ (sometimes INFP)…one of the quirkiest and most obscure personalities to visit this planet. But the sooner the better. Don’t just accept this, embrace it. Once you figure this out things will fall into place much easier. You’ll be a better person all around.

11. Be grateful for everything. Seriously. Even when it seems impossible or undeserving. Just be grateful. Everything is a gift.

So of course I could go on for pages having this imaginary conversation with my younger self. Offering the younger me advice on how to navigate the years ahead. But as I was typing I couldn’t help but think…if I am writing and conversing with my younger self 30 years prior, what I wonder will I want to tell my current 52 year old self when (hopefully) I am 82, thirty years from now. But then it came to me that maybe I’m already doing it…that much of what I have to say to my younger self is just as pertinent now as it was then. Now I just have to heed my own advice.

There are only two ways to live your life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is though everything is a miracle.”

–Albert Einstein

 

Notes to My Younger Self; Eleven Things I’d like to say.

Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”
–Bob Dylan
Time goes so very fast doesn’t it? I remember hearing this when I was younger and not really paying it much attention, but the older I get the more true this seems to be. 
I am a creature of habit, I always have been. And while I have moved away from Buffalo, NY—the city of my birth—a few times, and have done a bit of traveling, I have always called it home. I live in the eclectic and somewhat bohemian neighborhood known as Allentown—a village within the city—and I know its streets like the back of my hand. Some of the businesses I have patronized for decades. And this is what I was thinking while I was out for a couple beers the other night at one of my favorite watering holes.
As I leaned against the bar, which is so old that it in itself is leaning, I thought about the three decades that I’ve come here. In my younger years I would visit late-night for serious partying, but these days it’s mostly just a beer or two in the early evening. And I’m not sure what made me think of this one night in particular, but I did. I was likely about 22 or 23 at the time and had driven here from the suburbs by myself. I was still living in my parent’s house, though they had both passed away by this time. Anyhow, I’m not sure why I remember this night—as nothing out of the ordinary happened—but it came to mind. I can even remember what I was wearing…parachute pants (remember them?) tucked into combat boots (keep in mind this would have been the early eighties and I was heavily influenced by The Clash…watch this video). And on this night I was leaning against the bar just a few feet from where I now stood, albeit 30 years later.
In those days the thought of being 52 years old would have been inconceivable…an old man. At the time I thought I was so grown up—I’ve often felt older than my years—but in retrospect I was just an uncertain young man. I was rebellious, crazy, and wild, but I also carried the weight of the world on my shoulders; and I had so much unresolved grief. But no one probably knew this because even then—just as now—I had the ability to put on a different facade, the face I believe people want to see. And now—so many years later—I had the fantasy of going back and offering my younger self some useful advice. 
I imagined standing next to my younger self and having a beer and gently telling myself things that would help me along the way. After all, who would know better than me? Many people write themselves notes (I know that I do)..a sort of “note to self” so they don’t forget something. Well this is a sort of note to self in the retrospective sense…truly trying to remember who I was meant to be as I walk this planet.
It is said that with age comes wisdom. While this may be true, I at times still feel like that uncertain and confused young man. But being more than twice as old as I was then, and knowing myself better now than I did then, I feel I would have some good advice to offer my younger self. And these are some of the things I would say (in no particular order).
1. Don’t worry. For the most part everything works itself out. If you have your health that is enough. You may have heard this a thousand times but it’s truer than true.
2. Cherish relationships. Family, friends, acquaintances, all of them. Over the years people drift apart or in and out of your life. People get sick and die. Cherish them all because you never know when the next time you’ll see each other.
3. Spend your time wisely. When you are younger there is so much time for everything. But as you get older you will realize that time is your most valuable commodity. Spend it wisely.
4. Be kind to people (everyone) and don’t hold grudges. The only one you will be hurting is yourself.
5. Don’t take yourself—or life—too seriously. As you start to fall into certain roles (because you will whether you like it or not) don’t take yourself too seriously. Life can be so fleeting and the years go by quickly. Enjoy it.
6. Relax. Yup, it’s that simple. I know that you are a driven person, and a creative person, but allow yourself to relax now and again. Just…do nothing.
7. Don’t suppress your creativity. You are an extremely creative person (we all are) and as a child it is expressed so freely, but as we get older this is sometimes stifled (and in so many ways). Creativity is what makes our souls jump within these bodies that we currently occupy. So just do it. Create. Write, draw, paint, play music…whatever makes your heart sing.
8. Live in the present moment (and enjoy the journey). I don’t mean to keep harping on this but it is true, life can be so fleeting so just enjoy every minute of it. This, I truly believe is why we as eternal souls have incarnated into these human forms…to experience life. All of it; the good and the bad. It’s not about the destination but the journey itself. Enjoy it. Every minute of it. Never lose your sense of wonder. Embrace it.
9. Don’t try to be someone you are not; be yourself always. Throughout life people will try to fit you into certain roles and identities, and you yourself will try to make yourself fit into roles and identities that you are not meant for, but don’t do it. Be yourself. Always. It may be difficult sometimes—really difficult—but just be yourself. To everyone and all the time. Years from now you will be happier for it. Be your authentic self.
10. Embrace the fact that you are an introvert. It will take you many years to accept this, and many more thereafter to realize you are an INFJ (sometimes INFP)…one of the quirkiest and most obscure personalities to visit this planet. But the sooner the better. Don’t just accept this, embrace it. Once you figure this out things will fall into place much easier. You’ll be a better person all around.
11. Be grateful for everything. Seriously. Even when it seems impossible or undeserving. Just be grateful. Everything is a gift.
So of course I could go on for pages having this imaginary conversation with my younger self. Offering the younger me advice on how to navigate the years ahead. But as I was typing I couldn’t help but think…if I am writing and conversing with my younger self 30 years prior, what I wonder will I want to tell my current 52 year old self when (hopefully) I am 82, thirty years from now. But then it came to me that maybe I’m already doing it…that much of what I have to say to my younger self is just as pertinent now as it was then. Now I just have to heed my own advice.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is though everything is a miracle.”
–Albert Einstein

The view from my handlebars, a few thoughts on Ash Wednesday/Lent, and things to be thankful for…

So there I was anxious and rushing to get home from the community center on yet another single digit evening so I could make it to the opening time of an online class that began tonight, but then I had to stop for yet another traffic light (pictured above). Why, I thought, did I hit another light? Doesn’t the Universe know I am late? The traffic light, of course, seemed especially long. But I couldn’t help notice the sunset. Incredible. Here it was something like 9F and I was straddling my bike shivering a little but looking at that incredible sunset–the same sunset that if you live in the same hemisphere as me could view along with me–it made everything ok. At least for a few minutes. And I started thinking about how today was the beginning of Lent; Ash Wednesday. Symbolically representing Jesus going into the desert and fasting for forty days. Well, I am far from fasting, though I have given a few things up. But I don’t just give things up for the sake of doing so (but if you do I am not trying to pass judgment); I like to add something, such as additional prayer, meditation, yoga, etc. And also random acts of kindness. But as I stood there straddling my bike, and my fingers grew increasingly colder and I looked at that incredible sunset, I thought that–as a spiritual practice–I really should appreciate gratitude more. Just the little things. Because I have so much to be grateful for. And at that very moment I realized how grateful I was for that sunset on this very chilly night. So I took out my iPhone and snapped a picture with shivering fingers.The traffic light seemed to take ten minutes to change (though it was probably only two), and I did make it home just in time for the online class. While I watched it I ate dinner while my two pugs sat at my side and wood stove heated the room. I was, and am, thankful for that as well. But as I rode home this evening I also realized that it was nearly 7pm and there was still light in the sky, and that each day brings a little more light as we progress towards spring. The cold darkness of winter will end soon enough. And after riding through this very cold and snowy winter, this is something to truly be thankful for. I’d love to hear what you are thankful for at this point in your lives (because there is so much).


Urban Simplicity.

The view from my handlebars, a few thoughts on Ash Wednesday/Lent, and things to be thankful for…

So there I was anxious and rushing to get home from the community center on yet another single digit evening so I could make it to the opening time of an online class that began tonight, but then I had to stop for yet another traffic light (pictured above). Why, I thought, did I hit another light? Doesn’t the Universe know I am late? The traffic light, of course, seemed especially long. But I couldn’t help notice the sunset. Incredible. Here it was something like 9F and I was straddling my bike shivering a little but looking at that incredible sunset–the same sunset that if you live in the same hemisphere as me could view along with me–it made everything ok. At least for a few minutes. And I started thinking about how today was the beginning of Lent; Ash Wednesday. Symbolically representing Jesus going into the desert and fasting for forty days. Well, I am far from fasting, though I have given a few things up. But I don’t just give things up for the sake of doing so (but if you do I am not trying to pass judgment); I like to add something, such as additional prayer, meditation, yoga, etc. And also random acts of kindness. But as I stood there straddling my bike, and my fingers grew increasingly colder and I looked at that incredible sunset, I thought that–as a spiritual practice–I really should appreciate gratitude more. Just the little things. Because I have so much to be grateful for. And at that very moment I realized how grateful I was for that sunset on this very chilly night. So I took out my iPhone and snapped a picture with shivering fingers.The traffic light seemed to take ten minutes to change (though it was probably only two), and I did make it home just in time for the online class. While I watched it I ate dinner while my two pugs sat at my side and wood stove heated the room. I was, and am, thankful for that as well. But as I rode home this evening I also realized that it was nearly 7pm and there was still light in the sky, and that each day brings a little more light as we progress towards spring. The cold darkness of winter will end soon enough. And after riding through this very cold and snowy winter, this is something to truly be thankful for. I’d love to hear what you are thankful for at this point in your lives (because there is so much).

Urban Simplicity.

Sometimes I Gotta Use My Feet…

If you’ve been to this blog before then you know that I like to ride bicycles as transportation. A lot. And I often comment on how much more a person sees while on a bike rather than being stuck in a plastic and metal shell more commonly known as an automobile. Many of my photos, in fact, were taken while on my bike, which would be nearly impossible if I was driving a car. Well, to drop this down a few octaves further, sometimes I just have to walk…sometimes I just gotta use my feet. Walking, especially when there is no actual destination or time-frame, can be meditative for me; a great way to clear my head and/or think about things. Last night was such a walk. Armed with a camera and an iPod for music, and slightly fortified with a few beers in my belly, I went for a really lovely late evening autumn walk. And here are a few of the things I saw a long the way.

Urban Simplicity.

A Few Things I Saw (and contemplated) While Riding My Bike Yesterday…

Yesterday was one of those days. And I don’t know why. It was one of those days where the sun was shining and it was beautiful out but still I felt shrouded in melancholy. It’s odd when this happens. Out of the blue. But it did and I don’t know why. I have everything I need–indeed more than I need–but still it washed over me like a warm slow moving wave. I knew, though, that I had a choice. A choice to stay in this valley or climb out, or more specifically ride out. And that’s exactly what I did. It’s a proven fact that physical exercise is a mood changer, and coupled with wandering around my beautiful city on a beautiful sunny afternoon, it did just that. I pedaled and coasted and coasted and pedaled and took some photos, too. I took dozens of photos, actually, and here are a few of my favorites. The combination of a couple hours on a bike and viewing life (contemplating) through the view finder of a camera I emerged a new man. And for that I am very thankful. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

In flux…eight photos of the merging of seasons

As we all know this has been a hot summer–crazy hot–but this past week the temps have cooled (at least in Western New York) and it has ushered in the feeling of autumn, though it is still officially summer. Today, while out on my bike, I snapped these photos of nature in the city in flux…the juxtaposition of the last or late flowers in full bloom with the backdrop of some that are already dry and brittle. The contrast, I think, is interesting. I hope you do as well. Click any photo for a larger view.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…
Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Urban Simplicity.

Four Photos of Flowers (and how they inspire me)

It’s interesting. I like many adults have suffered from sleep problems for most of my life. It’s rare for me to sleep more than 6 hours. But every so often I do. My body crashes. Last night was one such instance. I went to bed around 1:00am–which is late for me–and didn’t wake until nearly 11:00am this morning. It was disorienting to say the least. And I’m not sure what it was–the long sleep or the grey and rainy day–but I woke with a feeling of melancholy. Not anything too heavy, just enough to put me in an introspective mood. Seeing that I woke too late to go to church, I read the NY Times on line while I had coffee and then went out for a long walk in the drizzly weather and took photos. I took a bunch of them–of all sorts of things–but am only showing some of my favorites; the flowers. I find it interesting in that when taking photos it forces me to look at–contemplate–the thing I’m pointing the camera at. The one above, for example, is a flower on a tree…who knew that inside its white leaves was hidden such beauty. Or the one directly below–a dandelion–on any other day these are the nemesis to my garden, but when viewed up close, through the lens of a camera, it is beautiful. Anyhow, it’s likely that the brilliant color of these flowers on such a grey day has added color–inspiration–to my spirit. And I thought I’d share. Click any for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Good Friday Moon

The moon is amazing tonight. I was out on my bike and couldn’t take my eyes off it as I pedaled and coasted. The above image I took from my backyard (not bad for a point-and-shoot camera), and the below image is the Liberty Building with a low lying moon to its right. And if you’ve ever wondered about why the date of Easter changes each year it is because of the moon cycle. Easter takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (sounds sort of Pagan to me). If you want to learn more follow some of these links. And it’s interesting–I think–that in the Christian calendar, tonight being a night of darkness it is also a night of such immense light; literally and metaphorically. It’s as if there is a large nightlight showing outside illuminating the earth. While I consider myself a practicing Christian, I also believe that all major religions walk a similar path. That being said, I also consider nearly everything in the Bible a metaphor–to help each of us to discover our own inner truth–and right now I cannot think of a more direct physical metaphor than that incredible moon shining in the darkness like a beacon of hope and newness.

Urban Simplicity.

Sometimes a Book Finds You…

I love books and bookstores. When I travel I make a point of visiting used and/or independent bookstores in that city. And I really do believe that books sometimes find you…that they are placed before you for you to find and hopefully read. The book above is a good example (and more on that in a minute) but the one that stands out in my memory was one that found me when I was living in Poughkeepsie, NY.  It was the mid 1980’s and I was a student at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and was walking down the street on a sunny Spring day when I quite literally tripped over a book…yes it was laying there in the middle of the sidewalk. I picked it up and it was a well-worn copy of The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran. At the time I was not familiar with either the book or the author but was intrigued and kept it and read it. Later I was surprised to learn that we–the author and I–share the same ethnic heritage. Since then I have collected more than a dozen of Khalil’s books (though I haven’t read them all). But I believe that original one–which is also his most famous–found me. Anyhow, back to the book pictured above. As mentioned in an earlier post, I was in Toronto this past weekend with my son, and was in Seekers Bookstore on Bloor Street (which is one of my favorite Toronto bookstores). I have had an interest in Mysticism for many years but do not know anything about Kabbalah (who am I kidding…I don’t know much about anything). Anyhow, I was flipping through the above said book, and read a bit on cause-and-effect, but thought the book was a bit pricy at $9 (CAD), considering its condition. I liked what I was reading but thought I could probably find a better deal on Amazon (I didn’t) or just download it…so I put it back on the shelf and began looking at other books. At this point I was standing near the counter and heard a person ask another (who I’m assuming was the owner of the bookstore) how business has been. He went into a somewhat long dialog on how bad it has been, that even with a mild winter business was poor. Sometimes, he went on to say, that an entire hour would go by and not a single customer will come in, and then when they do they just browse and leave. Between the big chain bookstores and the Internet, he said, he felt his store was dying a slow death. I felt like he was speaking to me though my back was to this person. To cut to the chase…I took the book back off the shelf and purchased it. I love used bookstores and don’t want them to disappear; I felt good to support this one. This book–like the aforementioned title–most definitely found me…I had no choice but to purchase it.

Urban Simplicity.

A Solitary Walk (Playing with Angle and Light: Three Street Scenes)

I like to walk; it clears my head. When I’m on a bike I have to pay attention to my surroundings but when I walk I can do just that…walk. Tonight I had some thoughts that were troubling me so I thought I’d go for a brisk walk on this chilly (32F/0C) and wet February night…OK, I stopped at a local tavern for a couple beers also (that helps clear my head, too…or maybe it clouds it, whatever). Anyhow, and as usual, I brought a camera with me. I also had my small tripod…in order to get clear pictures at night it’s essential my hand doesn’t shake. What’s interesting is the angle at which these photos were taken…about 10 in./25cm. off the ground. The tripod I use I originally purchased to use on my bike, but tonight I was walking. It gives it an interesting perspective, I think. Anyhow, the walk was good…and the beers were better. As usual, click any photo for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

A Few Things I Saw Today

I’ve used this comparison before but have to mention it again…you see a lot more when on a bike than in a car but you see ten times that when you walk. Because, like a car, when you ride a bike you have to stay in control–or at  least keep the bike in control lest you fall. But when walking, especially in a neighborhood that is familiar to you, you can walk somewhat aimlessly and take it all in…and that’s just what I did today. I have a couple things laying heavy on me–concerns and decisions to make–and one of the best things to help level my thoughts (besides prayer and meditation) is a good contemplative walk. I really believe that there is art and beauty all around us–even in the middle of a city–and that all one has to do is look. Anyhow, these are just a few of the things I saw today on my short walk (a mile each way) to the health club.
I saw the above squirrel–rather, he saw me first–as I approached it at the corner of  Delaware and Summer Street. It darted from in front of me, forgetting the chestnut it was chewing, then came back–looking at me the entire time–to retrieve it before scurrying onto the fence to finish it’s consumption. He was, I’m guessing 30ft/9m from me–truly taxing the zoom on my little point-and-shoot camera–but I’m sure he was watching me out of the corner of his eye. I watched him for a moment and wondered if he ever worried about money or paying bills or about anything for that  matter. Likely not. His concerns are honed to where his next chestnut is, how secure his shelter, or if there are any predators about.
The photo directly below is the shadow of a fence very near where the squirrel was sitting; the light seemed just right at the moment I was standing there.
The next photo below, and in the middle, is of a flower I’m sure I saw while in full bloom (I walk/ride this route often). In the height of season it was I’m sure, white, fluffy, and full of life. But now, brown and withered, it still stood defiant of it’s decay. T
And the most bottom photo (and this is my favorite) is a little hidden gem in the city. I’ve photographed this path before and in all seasons though not this close up (meaning I walked down it a bit). It’s a private path (a rear entrance to someone’s home) but to me it looks like it could be somewhere in rural Europe. What’s interesting is that it is located on Summer Street in the city of Buffalo.
Walking is good for your physical health but also good for your mental/emotional health, at least for me it is. So the next time you feel anxious or need to work something out internally, go for a walk, you’ll be amazed at what you see in your own neighborhood…but don’t forget to bring a camera.

Urban Simplicity.

Playing with Light

Since recently purchasing a small tripod, and using my bike as a platform, I have been able to take much fuller evening and night pictures with my inexpensive little point-and-shoot camera. I have always found the night to be very spiritual, and taking photos such as this is, to me, a form of contemplative photography. I usually carry a camera with me (and lately the mini tripod as  well) and as I pedal and coast silently through the chilly city streets I’ll often stop and take a few photos. Sometimes I find it a soothing and reflective experience…I have to really look at the object or scene before me–study it a bit–before I take it’s photo.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a brief story. Tonight as I was leaving the health club I had my little camera and tripod set up on the back of my bike and was about to take a picture. A guy I’ve met before was walking from the parking lot to the building. As he passed he asked what I was doing; I told him taking pictures of a tree. Why, he wanted to know; because I thought it was beautiful, I told him. Okay (but pronouncing it (ohkaaay) he said as he rushed passed me. I was hoping he would look up to see it, but I don’t believe he did…the above image is the one I was taking. The light–or the lack of it–really changes things.

Urban Simplicity.

Life in Motion

How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
~Dr. Seuss

Sometimes I forget about it…or at least refuse to be aware. It has been such a busy year–the past month especially–and now Christmas and the year’s end is just around the corner. But then when I slow down I remember. Sometimes I just need to stop and take a breath. And this is what I was thinking as I pushed the Mundo up the Plank of Gratefulness today, and as I stopped to look at the withered weeds and plants pictured above. It’s an image of where–just a brief time ago–I grew vegetables. It seems like just a few days ago that I was relishing in the fact that it was the longest day of the year and now–in two days–it will be the shortest (and darkest). Oddly, as I looked at the shriveled plants they looked beautiful to me. So after pushing the Mundo into the living-room (yes I keep my bikes in my living-room) I grabbed my camera and snapped a few photos. And as I was taking the photos–zooming in on them–it occurred to me that nothing is permanent on this physical plane in which we currently reside; everything is in transition…it always has and always will be. Life moves on and we must move with it. And with the sake of sounding hokey (as if I haven’t already) I also think that each of us has a purpose in this current incarnation which we find ourselves….whether we ever realize it or not. I’ll get off my little soapbox-pulpit now. Carpe Diem. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 1 There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:
 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 6 a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 8 a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.

Urban Simplicity.