Light Bites, Sound Bites … and Life Things

A special feature post today … Enjoy!

A Light Bite?
It’s not Killarney ~ © Catherine Drea, Foxglove Lane Studio, under CC A-SA License

I recall that when I was a fit, young and vaguely ambitious man – a man always in a hurry – I didn’t have time … nay, I didn’t make time … to open my mind, my eyes and my ears a little more often. I didn’t make time to read more widely, to see things more clearly and to listen more attentively to those, who had something meaningful to say. I guess my thinking was muddled by the testosterone coursing my veins. Whilst I did have a thirst to understand the world, scientifically, and humanity, philosophically, my quests to do so, particularly for the latter, were brief and too often supported by sound bites and misunderstandings, both of which I think are inextricably linked.

The trouble is that life is too full of sound bites – quotations and neat little epithets – and light bites – pictures and particularly imagery – all of which bear influence far more than we consciously give them credit, in those brief moments we spend giving them glancing attention. It is tempting to use these bites to act as the cornerstones of our thinking, easy meat for our cluttered memory banks and agitated minds, which can provide, at a moment’s notice, a convenient prop to any conversation that occasionally transcends our mundane and ordinary existence. But it is likely that they will be cited too often and probably well beyond their use by date! Look no further than our Facebook News Feed, and count the number of quotations to see how popular these bites of information are!

All of this would be well and good, if it weren’t for the fact that life is far more complicated than we’d like it to be. It is for this reason that these bites are so convenient, easy to digest and recall. In my early adult years, I was kept far too busy working to survive and support my family, feed my material ambitions and improve my financial status. This trail I blazed didn’t only inhibit, but also prevented me from spending more time delving deeper into life’s mysteries and, more importantly, examining my own conscience and coming to terms with myself. In a perverse sort of way, it serves the paymasters, marketeers and our representative political leaders well for us not to have time to think and ask questions that really need to be asked, like “does it really have to be this way?”.

Streams of Light
Streams of Light ~ Catherine Drea, Foxglove Lane Studio, under CC A-SA License

That each of us is unique, almost goes without saying. That we are all connected, doesn’t. A problem arises when I realised that each of us has a built-in human instinct, a genetic coding, not just to do our best for the furtherance of our race as a whole, but primarily to ensure our own survival; a built-in selfishness, if you like. How that selfishness is channelled is crucial to what happens next. If we are fortunate enough to have been born with the right genetic coding, into the right environment and economic circumstances, then the temptation to use this to our own personal advantage, for a vast majority of human beings, is almost impossible to resist; we cannot control that urge, because we are never fully in control of our lives. Only a few exceptional human beings ever manage to resist this selfish urge.

These facts may seem to be a deviation from the theme of this essay, but at its core is a truth that each of us is a victim of our circumstances. If those circumstances place us within that ninety-nine percent of the population, who are not independently wealthy enough to determine their own lives and become their own ‘masters’, by virtue of their financial means, then we need to become worker bees. Now there is nothing wrong with this position, nothing at all, in fact there is much to recommend it … unless, and I repeat unless we allow our own conscience to be overruled by someone else’s conscience, so completely imbued with the ‘culture’ that envelopes us in our working, religious or political environment that we permit someone else to dictate the way we think, consciously or unconsciously. This is a perennial conundrum.

I place myself firmly in that section of humanity, commonly referred to as the ninety-nine percent, who are dependent on working for their living or on the performance of others for it – whatever that living may be. We are always in danger of allowing our lives to be controlled by ‘others’, directly, for example by corporate masters, or indirectly, by the advertisers and marketing men, who strive to fill our brains with ‘needs’ we didn’t know we had and anxieties about our status, health, looks and dietary needs …  that we wouldn’t otherwise think we had. This forces some of us, maybe more than a few, who are gullible enough, into spending endless amounts of our hard earned income on products that purport to make us better, richer, more attractive, more talented, more admired people. Primarily, this makes the creators of products ‘for the promised land’ wealthier and even more powerful.

So beware of sound bites (notably from politicians, but increasingly from marketing people) and light bites (dazzlingly attractive imagery, primarily from those corporate marketing men) – or the combination of both – and beware the effect they will have on your mind, your thinking and your conversations with others: you know, those casual conversations, which are based on our original instincts for survival, but which have been perverted by those clever PR people, so that, deep down, they make you feel you have to be the one who has the edge; who has the bigger house in the better area of town, the more upmarket car, the better class of friends and acquaintances, the more exotic holidays. All of this is just what those marketing people – and politicians bent on ensuring economic ‘growth’ – continually like to nurture in our minds. This is a kind of envy and an ‘addiction’, which leads us to keep on buying and upgrading. Political leaderships like to play the same tricks, for their own reasons, plying us with those little bites of information, extolling their virtues and wooing us for our votes.

Image by Randi G Fine (http://randigfine.com/life-meaning-picture-quote-2/)
Image by Randi G Fine

So, I am trying to stand out from the crowd, but not in a show-off kind of way. Rather, I want to be a free thinker. I am trying to achieve a deeper understanding of the human condition and my own conscience; in other words, I am trying to come to terms with myself, discover more about what lies beneath the superficial surface of life, over which it is easier to skate too hastily towards our terminus. I realise that it is a journey that could transport me to places, from which I’ll not wish to turn back and which will bring me previously unimagined joy and fulfilment. I suspect there will be some discomfort on the way, but one thing is for sure. I wish someone had offered me this advice when I was a young man … or perhaps they did and I never listened!

Text: © 2014 John Anstie.

Photo Credits: Main Images ~ © Catherine Drea, Foxglove Lane Studio, under CC A-SA License – Small Image with caption ~ © Randi G Fine (http://randigfine.com/life-meaning-picture-quote-2/)

[This was, in part, inspired by the fact that The Bardo dedicated most of the month of May to International Photography Month. The subject of light (and shade), particularly important in black and white photography, is ever present in our consciousness, but at no other time in history has photography, as well as digital sound, been so important in the world of politics, commerce and art, as it is now. The mood of this essay has turned out slightly darker – or should I say ‘more in the shadows’ – than perhaps it should. I hope that this doesn’t push a potentially younger audience further away from the Bardo, because there is so much here, from my fellow contributors, that is of so much value to all ages. I’d like to make special mention of Catherine Drea, and to thank her for allowing this blogazine to have access to her very special collection of beautiful photographs on Foxglove Lane Studio]

P.S. On the subject of ‘bites’ in a piece that could run parallel to this, extolling the virtues of short poems, I thoroughly recommend reading a post on ‘Poetry and Zen‘ over at Jim Murdoch’s excellent blog, “The Truth About Lies”]

*****

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer and poet, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. John has been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

*****

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51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has also been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Tropical thoughts

It’s summertime here in the South, and the weather puts one in mind of the tropics; the steamy humidity, warm summer sun combine to promise that you’ll need another shower as soon as you dare to step foot outside. Many years ago (2006), I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Big Island of Kona, Hawaii for a couple of weeks. You hear stories, of course, of the beauty, but nothing compares to the reality. It truly is a tropical paradise. The native people are very eco-conscious and generally helpful, friendly people. They have a deep respect for the Earth and their simple ways of life were incredibly appealing to me. It’s terribly expensive to live there, since the economy is tourist-driven, but if I ever had the money, this is where I would retire and happily spend the rest of my life.

I got to snorkel with Green Sea Turtles…

Swimming with sea turtles, Kona, HI, 2006
Swimming with sea turtles, Kona, HI, 2006

and see plenty of Yellow Tangs and Needle-nosed Knifefish (which floated right below the surface of the water in schools) — Both are types of reef fish.

Yellow Tangs and Butterfly Fish on the reef, Kona, HI, 2006
Yellow Tangs and Butterfly Fish on the reef, Kona, HI, 2006

 

 

Needle-nosed Knife Fish
Needle-nosed Knife Fish

I also got to see some amazing waterfalls (although it was raining like a monsoon when I went to see them) This is Akaka Falls…

Akaka Falls, Kona, HI 2006
Akaka Falls, Kona, HI 2006

One of my favorite pictures from the trip is from Pololu Valley. You could see the mountains, the coast and the rainforest vegetation all in one shot…

Pololu Valley, Kona, HI, 2006
Pololu Valley, Kona, HI, 2006

There were some wonderful examples of island art, from hammered tin gates…

Fantastic Hammered Tin Gate on Ali'i Drive
Fantastic Hammered Tin Gate on Ali’i Drive

to the carved, wooden Ki’i statues in various places all over the island. These statues are usually meant as guardians to protect and watch over certain sites. This one is from “Place of Refuge”…

One of the Ki'i (Wooden guardians) At Place of Refuge
One of the Ki’i (Wooden guardians) At Place of Refuge

To my great delight, there were even dragons!

Between Two Dragons at the Hilton

And Buddha was there, too!

Buddha and Me

It was such an inspiring trip, I couldn’t help but write a poem to help me remember the experience. If you ever have the chance, I hope you will go! It was an enriching journey for the artistic spirit and the soul of anyone who appreciates nature. 🙂

~ Kona ~


 

Muted moonbeams drift through vaporous clouds,

While gecko songs mesh with the soft click of palms.

Awash in the gentle susurration of waves’ persuasion,

The island breezes encourage me to let go…relax.

No pressure here, no hustle and hurry,

No scamper and scurry,

On “island time”.

Simply hang loose and flow.

The scent of exotic, tropical orchids,

Mixed with the lush green of giant, verdant ferns.

The bright flicker of numerous birds in the brush,

Calls from long-forgotten conchs and steady drums…

All convince me that I,

Have finally found my way home,

To Eden.

~ C.L.R. ~ © 2006

((Someday, I’ll get back there and once more find that kind of peace and serenity.))

effecd1bf289d498b5944e37d8f4ee6fAbout dragonkatet Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post a lot of poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.

stalking the wild tombstone

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The six-acre Historic Union Cemetery in Redwood City, California runs unobtrusively along Woodside Road where it sits adjacent to a plant nursery and is bordered on other sides by boring boxy 1960s housing. The cemetery was established in the mid-nineteenth century and is inhabited by – among others – soldiers of the American Civil War who died after they were mustered out and members of the sadly depleted but happily still extant Metamora Native American Tribe. No surprise this: the cemetery is said to be haunted. If so, our delightful afternoon of stalking the wild tombstone, while fun for us, was apparently of little interest to the inhabitants. The day was uneventful. I was test-driving a modest digital camera, which was new to me that week and died not long after this expedition.

© 2011, words and photographs, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

 

kif_0858-1Photo on 2014-03-31 at 17.16 #3JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~ I am a medically retired (disabled) elder and the mother of a married son. The graces of poetry, art, music, writing and reading continue to evolve as a sources of wonder and solace, as creative outlets, and as a part of my spiritual practice. My Facebook pages are: Jamie Dedes (Arts and Humanities) and Simply Living, Living Simply.

The photograph to your right, Portrait of a Photographer is a portrait of my friend and fine art photographer, Wendy Alger. I guess it might be more correct to say it’s a portrait of the camera not the photographer, though it was meant to capture the spirit in which Wendy works. I took the photograph some years ago during out trek through Historic Union Cemetery in Redwood City, California. Wendy pursued her art and I was chauffeur and tag-along doing the best I could. My own portrait here is a selfie captured using the photo feature on my MacBook. Happy interNational Photography Month.

TRAVEL THEME: BLOSSOMS

The lovely young mother, Imelda, delights her thousand-plus followers with her artful photographs of flowers sometimes found in unexpected places. Often, as with these two Lily of the Valley, Imelda pairs her photos with a sort poem. Bravo, Imelda …

MY WALL

 

Lily of the Valley

Their scent calls to the eyes
to show them a thousand delights –
Lily of the Valley of the purest white.

Lily of the Valley2

For AILSA’s TRAVEL THEME:  BLOSSOM.

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interNational Photography Month: Wordless Wednesday

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”  So said sources from the early 20th century, and advertising and marketing departments were quick to adopt this maxim.  Images became icons; symbols got recognition and replicated themselves.  In our viral age, this happens in a nanosecond.  We are bombarded with so many images in a day that we simply filter out most of them.  Junk mail, pop-ups, video clips and trademarks pass in and out of our field of vision at an alarming rate. 

When was the last time you looked at an image for more than 10 seconds?  When was the last time you stood in a museum or gallery in front of an image for more than 10 minutes?  Was that image a photograph? 

Suppose we create a virtual photographic museum here on Bardo.  Share with us a photo that you have taken that will draw us into some full minutes of contemplative focus.  It may be a photograph that tells an entire story in itself.  It may be a place to which we’re drawn, compelled to step into the frame.  It may be a portrait of a face that speaks volumes of stories.  (What’s interesting to note is that we, like infants, will look long into the faces of people, especially those to whom we feel strongly connected.) Perhaps one of these photographs will inspire a story or essay in the writers amongst us for a future time….for now, let it be wordless.  Here are some from my collection to “prime the pump”.

 

YOU ARE INVITED TO SHARE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS WITH US.

PLEASE LINK THEM TO THIS SITE USING MISTER LINKY BELOW

OR LEAVE THE LINK IN THE COMMENTS SECTION

THE LINK WILL STAY OPEN FOR 72 HOURS AND PRISCILLA WILL VISIT AND COMMENT

WE HOPE YOU WILL ALSO VISIT ONE ANOTHER TO COMMENT AND ENCOURAGE

004PRISCILLA GALASSO ~ started her blog at scillagrace.com to mark the beginning of her fiftieth year. Born to summer and given a name that means ‘ancient’, her travel through seasons of time and landscape has inspired her to create visual and verbal souvenirs of her journey.

Currently living in Wisconsin, she considers herself a lifelong learner and educator. She gives private voice lessons, is employed by two different museums and runs a business (Scholar & Poet Books, via eBay and ABE Books) with her partner, Steve.

Dandelions and Other Foreigners

A friend said to Hodja Nasruddin, “Look at all these dandelions!  I’ve tried pulling them, poisoning them, starving them, digging them out by the root.  Nothing works.  I am at my wit’s end!”

“That’s a shame,” said the Hodja. “They are not a problem for me.”

“Really?  Please tell me your secret, my friend!”

“It is very simple,” said Nasruddin.  “I have learned to love them.”

Dandelions are native to Eurasia, but have traveled all over this world.   In France they were called “Dent de Lion,” or “Lion’s Tooth,” because of their toothed leaves. In England they were, “Piss-a-Beds,” for their diuretic properties.  In Germany, Russia, and Italy they are “blowing flowers.”  In Catalan, Poland, Denmark, and Lithuania they are  “milk flowers,”  “milkpots,” and “sow’s milk,” after the flower stem’s milky sap.  In Finland, Estonia, and Croatia, they are “butter flowers.”  In China, they are “flower that grows in public spaces by the riverside,”  while in Portugal, they are called, “your dad is bald,” after a game the children play with them.

A weed is only a weed if it is unwanted.  These immigrants have been used by humans for food, winemaking, herbs, and medicine for all of our recorded history.  Their roots are roasted for a chicory-like hot drink.  They are brimming with vitamins, and they enrich the soil.

They were only introduced to North America by the first European settlers.  Foreign? Yes. But think of all the good things they have brought with them.  Think of summertime without their cheerful faces.  Most of all, think of all the wishes that have come true since they have found a home here.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

On a rainy day …

Rain brings an unexpected peace to central Athens where protests are a regular thing. Here Bulgarian linguist, poet and photographer, Blaga Todorova, captures a certain beauty. J.D.

Between the Shadows and the Soul

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” ― Roger Miller

We have been having couple of days with a very heavy rain and in one of those days I happened to be out with my camera. I didn’t take all the pictures I wanted to, my camera has very limited options when it comes to photographing rain, and I came back home completely wet, but it was exciting and refreshing to walk in the rain, it had this mysteriously sweet taste of something majestic ruling the atmosphere …

The reason why the roads in a very busy town like Athens are completely empty it is not because people here are afraid from the rain, but because that day there was a demonstration taking place. And when we have one of those demonstrations the center of Athens is closed and isolated. I’m not sure how much I approve of…

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Sentinels and Sanctuaries

The inspired and inspiring photographs of National Geographic photographer, Steve McCurry. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend.

Editing Monet’s Garden

Last May, while traveling in France, my sister and I went to Giverny to visit Monet’s Garden.  The line to enter was horrendous, and once we got past the ticket booth, we became part of the swarm of tourists overrunning his house and garden.  We must have heard a dozen different languages spoken, people from all over the globe had come to see for themselves the inspiration for Monet’s most famous paintings.

It was eye candy, a stunning profusion of color!   But instead of the rare and exotic flora I expected, all the flowers were, well, your regular garden variety.  Irises, roses, tulips, pansies, alyssum, forget-me-nots…nothing I don’t grow in my own garden.  Yet they were artfully arranged by height, texture, and color to maximize the effect.  And after all, they were in Monet’s Garden.

I wanted to capture at least the illusion of solitude and serenity, and to photograph the garden as I thought it must have been back in Monet’s day.  I waited for lulls in tourist traffic to get my shots.  But while waiting, I watched hoards of humanity shuffling by, and I caught glimpses of peoples’ lives that I found as moving as anything I saw in those historic gardens. Mothers and children, old couples holding hands, a little boy with eyes only for the baby chicks, an awkward teenaged boy who had eyes only for the teenaged chicks, and a family with four generations of women all sharing a park bench.

While we writers strive to capture a mood or feeling or effect, we should also observe the stories happening all around us.

The first  is like a very pretty still life, or a posed portrait of Mother Nature.  The other is a very real, sometimes messy picture of the world, brimming with humanity, and all the joy and heartbreak that life and love have to offer.

There is beauty in it all.

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All images and words c2012 Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51MC3SKEF0L._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV.

Naomi also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Ice Age Spring

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This Ice Age Spring was photographed in Wisconsin.

– Priscilla Galasso

© 2013, photographs including the portrait below, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

004PRISCILLA GALASSO ~ is a new contributor to Into the Bardo. She started her blog at scillagrace.com to mark the beginning of her fiftieth year. Born to summer and given a name that means ‘ancient’, her travel through seasons of time and landscape has inspired her to create visual and verbal souvenirs of her journey.

“My courage is in the affirmation of my part in co-creation”, she wrote in her first published poem, composed on her thirtieth birthday and submitted alongside her seven-year-old daughter’s poem to Cricket magazine. Her spiritual evolution began in an Episcopal environment and changed in pivotal moments: as a teenager, her 20-year old sister died next to her in a car crash and, decades later, Priscilla’s husband and the father of her four children died of coronary artery disease and diabetes in his sleep at the age of 47.  Awakening to mindfulness and reconsidering established thought patterns continues to be an important part of her life work.

Currently living in Wisconsin, she considers herself a lifelong learner and educator. She gives private voice lessons, is employed by two different museums and runs a business (Scholar & Poet Books, via eBay and ABE Books) with her partner, Steve.

Benchmarks

A bench is like an old shoe.  Whether in use at the moment…

…or long since abandoned…

…its former occupants leave their mark.

All over the world, these are the true thrones of the people.

They provide company…

…entertainment…

…a sense of belonging…

…a place to rest…

…to reflect…

…to escape the worries of the workaday world…

…or not.

Oh, the stories they have heard…

The sights they have seen…

Those benches have been warmed by the flesh and blood of people who have loved…

…and sometimes lost. Who’s to say?

But the next time you see one, sit and rest a spell.

As you take the bench, and watch the world go by, don’t judge too harshly.

Listen to the stories it has to tell.  They won’t be so very different from your own.

– Naomi Baltuck

All words and images (including the portrait below) copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck,All rights reserved

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppiNAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POVShe also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com