Photographers Rock!

‘A picture paints a thousand words.’ It really does!

It’s not the beautiful that usually catches my eye. It’s the different that usually does the job. And there’s nothing more beautiful or different in my eyes than the work of some talented photographers. You have the ability to stop people on their tracks, to appreciate and admire, and to feel a thousand other emotions with the timely capture of just one moment. What a talent!

I don’t have the gift many of you photographers are blessed with. I could’t record the moment I saw a huge, old, banyan tree – the one that had numerous roots growing from its branches reaching down like tentacles to grab at the closest patch of earth. I couldn’t convert to film the exact moment a stray beam of sunlight lit to brightness the first amber-hued leaf floating away from an autumn-struck tree in my backyard.

But, tell me, how do you all do it? You and I may be looking at the same scene but we aren’t seeing the same. It’s like your physical eyes see the present and then your mind’s eye is at work, seeing the absent. The blankness is not empty to you, but it’s the space where the next movement will occur. You see the pattern of the wind in the breeze tugging on your winter jacket, you notice the direction of the sun in the shadow accompanying you – you connect the dots in your head and, somehow, you anticipate the next step in this dance that nature is on and you are ready to have it sealed for eternity in your camera.

I haven’t learnt to anticipate the unknown. I haven’t learnt to appreciate the beauty of the absent and anticipate it… not yet. But I see you at work and then I see your work, and there is no shadow of doubt in my mind that you have an internal filter that makes you special to those of us who appreciate your work. I can write pages on what I saw and the readers will only understand one point of view – mine. They will comprehend my point of view, my feelings, my answers to solutions, etc – and either agree or disagree. But you – you can make people see more than just what you saw because most well-taken pictures are open-ended. People can make up their own stories to your pictures, their own psyches will provide their reactions with absolutely no hint from you. All I can say is, “Good job, guys!”

And before I sign out, honestly, how do you feel about selfies? Hey, I just had to know! It’s all about learning another’s point of view. It’s said to be educational. Hah! 😛

(Word-prompt: Blank)

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The Mysterious Rumblers

Silence reigned supreme.

I tried to think, to use my logic to figure out where I was and what I was doing there but the silence was so deafening and distracting that I couldn’t keep my thoughts organized. Even my own breath sounded muted and soft, as though I were listening to it from across a great distance.

I tried to distract myself from the dearth of sound by focusing on my sense of sight. However, that seemed to be an error in judgement as well. All the land from my feet to the farthest horizon was dry and arid. The evening sun threw into prominence the desert surrounding me. A dry wind blew gently and silently by, wrapping me in clouds of dust and sand.

Now all of this was extremely weird but what startled me the most was that, I wasn’t afraid. I was all alone in a deserted land with nothing in sight, or sound, and yet, I was not scared. I felt curiosity but no fear whatsoever.

And that’s when the rumbling started. Quick check! Nope! Not my stomach.

The rumbling seemed to come from afar, like a thousand bees journeying together. I fervently wished they weren’t bees. Soon the rumbling grew in decibel and momentum. It seemed to be coming all at once from all directions.

Should I find a safe place to hide? Should I try to make a run for it? But I knew there was no time. I didn’t really know where to go either. And then escape was no longer the predominant thought in my head. I could now see the first of the rumblers.

They were still quite a distance away but flying closer by the second. They looked like bees for a few seconds – black and flying and not exactly buzzing but making a noise, nevertheless. They were quickly closing in from all directions. And then, I got my first real look at the rumblers.

Words… that’s what they were! Countless words flying across the distance, alive and coherent – and still, not in the least frightening.

Surprise kept me rooted to the spot until the Words had surrounded me. They treated me like the eye of the storm – I remained untouched and unharmed while they zipped around me, rumbling their discontent. They sounded like unhappy children complaining about some mishap that had happened to them. I felt almost maternal – wanting to ease their worries but I hadn’t a clue what they were complaining about. That is, till they took matters into their own hands.

The first of the Words flew up. I didn’t know what to expect and threw my hands up to shield my face. The Word flew right into my outstretched hands and disappeared. Pfft!

And I understood! These were my Words – the ones I should have penned but never did for lack of time and numerous other reasons. But now they were making their unhappiness felt. They wanted to be in the real world – not in the depths of my creative mind drying up from lack of use. They wanted to be born into the world of books. They wanted out!

So, I let them out.

I woke up, grabbed my pen and paper, started to write and watched as more and more of my Words came to life on the sheet. They slowly disappeared from the temporary home of my mind and into the permanent home of the pages of a book.

Countless words in countless books they now reside – happy and content.

(Word prompt: Countless)

The Grain Representing Home

Any scientific minds reading this post?

You would affirm, I’m sure, when I make the claim that science has progressed to such an extent that an in-depth analysis of the smallest item at a crime scene is sufficient for the provision of case-breaking clues. (Well, what do you know, CSI episodes have something to offer to a conversation after all. 😛 ) It’s mind-boggling to realize that something as inconsequential as a wrongly present grain of sand at a scene can be analyzed and can aid in gaining the composition of the ground it hails from and, as a result, the original location of that grain.

It brings to mind the fact that as that grain of sand, we can be far away from home and still carry within us the qualities that declare to the world our real identities.

Nope! I am not talking about human factors that act as distinctions like ethnicity, color, race, etc – not the way our misguided human eyes choose to label people. I am referring to the way our Creator would see us – through eyes of wisdom and kindness. Will His eyes still see the goodness, honesty, generosity, etc, that He initially installed as a part of each of our make-up, those qualities that represent Him and His kingdom? Are those qualities still within us that can make the world sit up and say, “She’s/He’s different. There’s more than meets the eye with them.”

We were put here to be the aforementioned grain of sand i.e., to behave as an anomaly – to stand within and yet apart from the world. However, if we are ‘analyzed’ today, will our characteristics declare to the world our real home? Will our composition reflect our Father’s traits?

I guess self-analysis is the way to go. All the best with that!

(Grain)

Dream a Little Dream of ‘Eden’

I remember.

I remember waking to the first rays of the sun gently caressing the undulating leaves of the tall tree outside my window.

I remember looking around me with a smile and knowing it would accompany me all day. It just felt like one of those days.

I remember looking across the room at the new painting I had ensconced on the wall the previous night.

I remember walking up to it and sighing at the wonder of it. That painting was, to me, the best example of utopia.

Each brushstroke told a story. The colors and movements were so vivid and life-like, I could almost feel the breath of wind rushing from the trees and running into me. I was sure if I listened hard enough, I would hear the water gurgling its merry way down the hill. But the painting was more than just what the eye could see. I loved it for the promise it offered of the perfect world.

It spoke of a land where humans were innocent and free of evil designs. It conveyed the hope of a home we could yet achieve where chaos and terror didn’t reign supreme. It revealed a world where animals roamed free and weren’t hunted to extinction.  It created a dreamscape where the horizon was a stunning union of the earth and sky, and not one of smog-filled skies. It embodied the best of man and nature, and the anonymous artist had rightly named it ‘Eden’.

I remember lifting my hand up to feel the picture, and wishing I had the power to transport myself into it.

I remember feeling the rough patches of paint on the soft pads of my fingers.

I remember looking at the frame housing the painting and wondering how the wood came to bear so many scars. Did the frame have to win battles to protect this hidden Eden – this last reminder of what once was and could be if we, humans, just found our way again?

I remember feeling the prick of a sliver of wood from the frame…

And waking up!

I remember sitting up in my bed and looking eagerly out the window for that first ray of sun. All I saw was the struggling joy of a morning sky already dampened by the smoke of exhaust pipes.

I remember looking across the room to the wall holding up my painting. All I saw was an empty wall looking blankly back at me.

I remember my dream.

I write it down for you today. The painting may not have lived to see reality but the hope of it will exist as long as this word picture remains to speak of it. So, people, spread the word. Tell the world of what can be.

Remind them so that, even if not in our generation, the next one can see this dream of the perfect world come to fruition.

Remind them that long ago and far away a dreamer had a dream, and she dreamed of Eden.

(Word-prompt: Dream)

The Block

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. – Newton’s third law

Everything works on the healthy alliance of opposing forces – good vs bad, health vs sickness, yin vs yang, etc. Everything since the dawn of time is the culmination of things working together and separately to balance each other out. Apparently, it is the happy marriage of opposites that makes the world go round.

However, if you are a writer, Newton’s third law may just not be your favorite. It sure isn’t mine. Would you like to know why? Well how about the very simple but infuriating fact that (thanks to the ‘equal and opposite reaction’ nonsense – yes, I am blaming Newton. So, sue me!), if you, as a writer, have days when your bright ideas overflow without ceasing, you will also have days when that just won’t be the case.

We, writers, live for those days when a whirlwind of ideas and thoughts abound within us fighting for place and recognition, and really rue those when we feel more like a sponge squeezed out and emptied of all brilliance. The muggle world calls it a writer’s block.

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Writer’s block, anyone?

I don’t know about you but to me the absence of ideas is more than just a writer’s block. It is as cataclysmic as a black hole, one that opens up in the depths of my mind. It sucks up not just my creativity but also my ability to weave words together. All it leaves behind are the depressing memories of days when the Creative Force still stood strong and provided me with thoughts to share.

However, now that I think about it, if today is one of my bad days, and I am done with the lion’s share, then in accordance with Newton’s law, the equal and opposite reaction, i.e., the flow of creative ideas should be making a visit sometime soon.

But, soon after that the tide will turn again to cause a return of the block – oh, man! I should just leave this alone. This has been happening since the first writer walked the earth and will continue long after I am gone. The writer’s block is a burden all writers have had to bear and the saga will continue till the last writer on earth retires her writing chops. Who am I to fight it? I have other battles to wage and wars to plan (figuratively, people!).

(One-word prompt: Saga)

On Keeping and Being Kept by Books

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”  – William Styron

I concur.

Books

My books were treasure troves and escape hatches, comfort huddles and educational wonders – they were the windows that opened up my consciousness to worlds I could never see, scenes I could never experience, people I could never meet and conversations I could never really be a witness to. They were friends that whispered of the existence of the unknown, and gently suggested of ideas constructed by brilliantly creative minds.

I’ve had 32 years to gather up books that spoke most to me. Sci-fi, fantasy, classics, biographies, who-dun-its, romances and more lived cheek-by-jowl on my cramped shelves. They were accustomed to hands grasping them in glee and knew they were appreciated. They were often loaned to like-minded friends and returned unharmed.

Unfortunately, my books no longer live with me. They live in the attic of my parent’s home, in a country far far away. They are no longer visited regularly by eager hands. Words that once wove spells of enchantment lie powerless under the glaring darkness of an enclosed cupboard. They lie dusty and still, and are not aware that they are sorely missed. But even now, they still make themselves useful. Generations of silverfish have flourished because they relied on those books.

Oh, don’t worry, this isn’t the end. I dislike sad endings and my books have shown me that alternate endings are always possible. So here’s mine.

I have started a new collection here, in this new country. My new books are few at this stage but they already know they are loved. They are aware of their power – that the tears that fall on their pages are of appreciation, that the laughter that resounds around their pages are because they successfully tickle the funny bone. They lay the seeds for ideas that stay dormant in my fertile head till the right time, and then those ideas will flourish, germinate, set down roots and grow.

Charles Eliot said it best, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

They are indeed all this and more.

(In response to the day’s one-word prompt: Flourish)

The Battle Plan

Have you ever had one of those slow-mo Matrix kind of moments in your life? That’s when all movement slows down because you are watching a projectile approach, and in the movie, Neo does a good job of dodging it. But when a projectile is articulated through the Holy Spirit’s intervention, taking a hit to the heart is a good thing. That’s what happened when I was in the midst of a skirmish with myself.

We each battle our version of the ‘impossible’ in our lives on an almost-daily basis – cramming in time for the next day’s exam, hitting that difficult sales target, preparing for a chemo, etc. Every situation seems bigger and stronger and more intimidating before that first step. We feel overwhelmed and discouraged when we see our ‘Goliaths’ in all of our impossible circumstances.

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1.4)

Often, we rely on the experiences  others have shared with us in the hopes of supporting us. But although our circumstances may appear to be the same, the lessons He wants us to learn from those circumstances may be varied and new – so shouldn’t our method of handling the situations be different too?

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

This excerpt is from 1 Samuel 17 when Saul, a seasoned warrior, is preparing David to battle Goliath. The circumstances they both faced were the same – war. But the armor, sword and helmet that worked to protect Saul were more burden than boon to the shepherd, David. So he wisely chose his own weapons, things that he knew well and trusted, to take to battle with him.

Isn’t it the same with us? We take comfort in knowing that others have been through the same situation but we may have to face the problem in a completely different manner.

So, if you are going through something difficult, stop comparing yourself and your circumstance with that of another’s. They may have sailed through the same difficulty and you may still be stuck in the heart of it. Your journey and your lessons are unique to you. Just face your ‘Goliath’ with weapons that you choose wisely – blind faith/unrelenting prayers, or anything that works best for you. Whatever it is, find it and hold fast – the battle is the Lord’s, after all.

 

Relationship in Progress

I like a semi-regular dose of science fiction in my life. It can be from a book or a movie – I don’t really care. But I like stretching the limits of my imagination to comprehend the existence of the inexplicable. However, the movies and shows I watch are rarely dependent on the reviews people post. I usually go with my instinctive response to the first fifteen minutes of the show/movie. Sounds illogical to some, I know. But it certainly is fun – not knowing what to expect and as a result, having the opportunity to form my own ideas without being influenced by someone else’s.

My husband, L, on the other hand, is the sort of guy who loves documentaries and biographies. He conducts a comprehensive survey before booking movie tickets or starting a new series on Netflix. He enjoys collating copious amounts of research on everything before making his mind up. He likes being prepared and appreciates the heads-up reviewers offer.

After 7 years of marriage, L and I have come to an understanding – I don’t always get him and he doesn’t always get me, and we’re okay with that. We still have moments of what-in-the-world-is-he/she-thinking, but it isn’t as often as it used to be. 🙂 Now, when L sees me jump into something headfirst, he doesn’t look bewildered and wonder aloud if I have lost it – well, he doesn’t make it obvious at least. And, when L spends hours researching something inconsequential, I don’t lose my patience… often. 🙂

We have, I think, arrived at our version of a healthy relationship. It isn’t picture perfect – as no relationship is. But we’ve found that what makes us happy together is knowing we’re different and finding the advantages in each other’s differences – L is more spontaneous because of me, and I am armed with a lot of data before making huge decisions because he does the research. However, there still are days this understanding doesn’t stop an argument in its tracks. That’s when we located another gem of wisdom – the importance of keeping a healthy distance till tempers cooled.  😛

And, thank God, it’s a relationship progressing in the right direction. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

(In response to the day’s one-word prompt – Healthy)

Through the Reading Glass(es)

Live a life of visual gluttony and you’ll have to pay the price.

No, it’s not the proverb of the day. That’s me bemoaning the fact that I have to wear glasses. Seriously, with the number of carrots I’ve ingested since childhood, I ought to have Superman’s vision. But, apparently, if you read all your day and half the night away – and make sure you do it since you turn 6 – by the time you hit the ripe old age of 32, your vision will be compromised too. The option of contacts is always available but, hmm, how do I put this – foreign objects inserted into my eye – yeah, not happening!

It’s not like I totally dislike my glasses. It’s just that they are not conducive to staying where they are placed. Apparently gravity works faster on my glasses causing them to slip down my face (no, it’s not my oily nose), and anyone who wants to refute my very logical point will be in serious trouble. So, watch it!

Fortunately, I don’t need to wear my glasses all the time. Just when I am reading and when I need to see things that are at a distance. So, when I am out and about in the city sans glasses, I am good… usually. Let’s just say I had a bit of a mishap recently. There I was minding my own business, meandering down an aisle in a store with my head abuzz with answers to a crossword puzzle I was trying to solve, when my eyes focused on a gentleman waving and smiling at me.

“Wow, that’s one big smile. Better wave back. Rude to not do so,” I think. So I wave back at him while frantically trying to place him.

Did I meet him at church, or that barbecue last weekend or was it at K’s house? I must have met him somewhere, right? Wrong. Apparently, he was waving at someone behind me and as I didn’t have my glasses on, I couldn’t see that his eyes were trained at someone behind me… of course, that’s only until I waved back. Then he was looking at me and frantically trying to remember where he’d met me.

Let’s just say, minutes after the incident, this blogger found the superhuman ability of vanishing at will. Maybe carrots brought out the Invisible Man instead of Superman in me. Think H. G. Wells knew the real secret of carrots?   🙂

(In response to the one-word prompt – Vision)

Surviving the Ages

Humans have survived wars, natural disasters, diseases, and a whole lot more, because we’ve adapted to all that is thrown at us and we’ve turned survival into a form of art. We tell ourselves that this, too, shall pass, and carry on. When faced with a quandary, our little grey cells immediately take to analyzing the situation and deconstructing the problem to arrive at the best possible solution.

Of all the gifts that God has blessed us with, I’d say the skill to survive is probably up there with the most important. In fact, quite often, it isn’t even a skill. It’s a desire so entrenched within ourselves that, when in trouble, our flight or fight response aka the survival skill comes to the fore. But we have that to rely on only when we are in immediate physical peril. Surviving emotional troubles is another ball game altogether.

Do you know of any perceptible skill or an inherent gene that helps us through emotional difficulties?  A broken relationship, a state of unemployment, a failed exam, a distressing diagnosis, etc, are all problems that our fight or flight response cannot help us with. Although we cannot rely on ourselves to get us through this, I believe He’s provided us with more than adequate aid to survive these times.

It couldn’t be a coincidence that He engineered His Word to include promises and words of encouragement galore for those of us facing emotional worries. The emotional part of us or our souls, have always been offered a choice in times of trouble  – either trust in His Word or try to go about it our way i.e., either plod through the difficult times knowing that He has our backs or fail miserably at reaching the best solution, respectively. Our emotional survival rests in our hands – all we need to do is make the right choice.

It appears that we humans have survived physical dangers and emotional pitfalls of all sorts through the ages because of the skills and options offered to us. How often have we turned back to thank Him for these, I wonder?

(In response to the day’s one-word prompt – Survival)