Life on the 3rd floor, high above the ground, spoiled by consumption of irrelevance, social life reduced to glowing screens, a life detached from truth, daydreams all day long, dreams of what could be, of what should be. Removed from reality, many layers in-between. Life is foul when mass-produced food is catered on silver platters.
I am in search for a genuine life. I guess, we all are. And probably I will continue this search until leaving this existence. So why am I searching in the first place? What hope is buried deep beneath? What do I expect to find? And do I want to find it? Or am I scared to face the harsh actuality of passing time?
There is a celebrity around our local pond – an undisputed star – which attracts photographers from near and far. The kingfisher. Admittedly, he is quite a natural talent with his bright contrasting feathers, the long beak, and his habit to sit calmly on his outlook during fishing. Still, I cannot comprehend how he seems to be the only subject that some photographers are striving towards. Because all the other birds are equally as beautiful and interesting. And because it’s starting to become a real problem if (on weekends) 3 or more people are chasing after a single individual who just wants to be left alone with his fish. But, as you can see, I am not guiltless too. I guess it is the intrinsic disparity in photographing wild animals: to invade without disturbing, to approach without chasing. And it is what brings the interest and excitement. But sometimes I wish people would be more considerate of their little feathered friends.
The most important thing about Chess is to keep the king safe. It gets castled behind its pawns and is protected by all pieces. A comfy life, no worries, and no ventures onto the board. It remains inactive. In fact, it remains rather lifeless.
Until the endgame approaches and things start to change: Pieces have fallen left and right, the board is a vast and empty plain, pawns gain importance as they may promote, and – finally – the king abandons its safe place to become more active. To get involved in the game. To get involved in life.
Not every game of chess reaches its endgame.
Fruit flies exist for ten days, sparrows for two years, snails for eight years, and bowhead whale over 200 years. Every ten years our chance of death doubles. We have an awful lot of time to think about what happens afterwards. Until we don’t.
[…] Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree, Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: I cannot say what loves have come and gone, I only know that summer sang in me A little while, that in me sings no more.
‘What My Lips Have Kissed, And Where And Why’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay; Musical interpretation: Thus in the Winter, by Christopher Tin
Trees are wise and tenacious. They endure at the most inhospitable places and cling onto earth as if their life depends on it – because it does. Trees are deeply ingrained and reach high. They depend on the light of stars and the nutrients of soil. Trees are manifold and and full of character which allows them to oppose changing climates. Trees have volition.
The other day I went out for some photography, motivated to exploit the snow that was still lingering around and covered the landscape like a gentle blanket. Just a few days earlier I had finished my thesis and, thus, I felt a freedom I hadn’t felt in a long time: Not a single appointment for the whole day, no deadlines, no waiting E-Mails, no social obligations, no time constraints. Simply a whole day for myself – is this what retirement feels like? I was standing on a hill overlooking villages, fields, and forests as far the hazy conditions allowed. And as I was pondering about my day, I simply picked a distant tree and started walking. No GPS, no directions how to get there, I simply started walking until I reached this lonely, very distant tree. And it felt good.
One season passes, the next approaches. One life phase transitions into another one. Snow covers clutter of the past, a fresh canvas onto which new ideas may be painted. Which shall remain unchanged? What must be adjusted? The past is frozen in place, but now and again color persists and defies the whiteout. Lonely figures reach high, rooted deep, yet fragile and delicate. Preparations for a period of hibernation begin, with the aspiration of a fresh awakening.
We are currently in the midst of a thorough clean up. Sorting out and getting rid of all the things that haven’t been used in a long time. All those things where I’am telling myself every year ‘next year I will use it’; and with every passing year they continue to gather dust. All those things whose acquisition seemed so necessary when I bought them; but most weren’t necessary after all. I enjoy the decluttering, it gives a good perspective onto future purchases: By now, I rarely buy stuff out of an instinct. Instead, I wait for several months and only if my desire or need remains, I proceed with the purchase. Only from time to time, consumption prevails over reason.
So – I am looking forward to my newly preordered camera.
Besides the physical things, there are also the non-physical: Contracts, friendships, data files, a hard drive full of old memories, another hard drive full of new memories. I would guess that I deleted 3 out of 4 photos I took this year. However, 4769 pictures from 2022 still reside on may laptop and wait to be combed out; all those shots where focus didn’t hit, where the composition is off, or which lack any message or visuals of interest.
As with new physical purchases, I need to learn how to take less photos. Especially less photos of low quality. It would save a lot of time and hassle.
I promise, there will also be other topics in future posts; but not today…
Glue on streets and food on art,
repeats each day, matter of heart?
"Not really," says the scientists
who gets the gist and is quite pissed
by egoists that do insist that a cold week
refutes the claim of climate change:
"To blame are others anyway."
The charts are clear, the problem sheer unsolvable;
each year is worse, each choice adverse,
the globe does not reverse its course – quite yet.
They marched on Fridays for a while,
but didn't reach the other isle:
Of people who don't care and stare
on their small screens where it just seems
as if the world is fine right now;
of people who don't share the bare
reality of what's to come;
of people who are still concerned
about their hard-earned treasuries
and do revel in memories about the past
as if they last apocalypse.
And now they found what upsets most:
A simple frowned upon protest
– where streets are used as seats –
defeats the calmness of the crowd
that clings to cars and is in rage
about the new found stage.
In galleries they do reside
throw calories with pride to guide
social debate where it belongs:
What are the values we esteem?
Why does it have to be extreme?
Why do we tolerate the wrongs?
And try to acclimate as if
the floods would stop? As if the crop
grows magically? While livestock drops
quite tragically dead onto barren desert floors –
necessity starts frightful wars.
Who really are the radicals?
Who really are the extremists?
Those who request a fair world
and are obsessed with equity?
Or those who halt the change,
assault the poor, default to strange
conventions from the past and cast
a future for us all that will, at last,
result in unsurpassed distress?
What is allowed, what justified?
This climate activism does
indeed evoke more buzz
than any boring chart. Apart:
It has a heart, and does still act in peace.
Unfortunately, no matter how many climate change conferences are arranged, the large-scale subsidization and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure continues to take place with each passing month. However, the immediate halt of any further investments into these sources of energy are one of the key factors to mitigate the climate emergency, according to the latest IPCC report. To the best of our knowledge, we steadily continue our path to more than 3 degrees of global warming, if we are lucky and tipping points don’t start to blow up all around us (and the likely do). If the choice is between some paintings and many many lives, I am gladly taking the latter.
Merging vacation and photography can be a little bit of a hassle. Should we enjoy the evening or hurry up the hill to catch the sunset? Get up before sunrise or finally sleep in as long as we want to? Enjoy the moment or reduce it to digital pixels? Pack another lens or another bottle of water?
Unfortunately, the photographer’s fear of missing out doesn’t stop when vacation is over. Every weekend, body and mind fight over the right time to get out of bed. And the rare days where we can sleep in happen to be ones where the long-desired fog appears. And thus, again, we get up earlier than we do during the week.
But the early mornings outside are also wonderful. A silence and calmness that we rarely experience elsewhere or at different times.
Luckily, the early autumn time is a blessing for this dilemma: not only does the landscape transform beautifully and all colors pop, but also the sun rises late and getting up at 7 a.m. is still sufficient to catch the twilight. But sometimes, I guess, I have to learn from my better half how to honor the lazy mornings without self-imposed obligations.