Friday, July 22, 2011

The Tao of Wander

What I love about the Tao, or the Way, is that it is always with me. No matter where I start or end, there I am (pretty sure I'm quoting Winnie the Pooh).  Heading into the unknown, especially when it's a dark, foreboding sky, can seem exactly that. Dark and foreboding. Yet, the sun is still shining where I am.

Fear is a powerful drug. Diving into the Ocean is terrifying. Driving into a black sky is ominous. Yet, when you cruise through to the Other Side, inevitably, a rainbow is awaiting...or maybe it's more black sky, or sharks, but we all have our struggles. The more we can stay present and see what is right in front of us, the more we can stay with fear, be the fear, taste the fear, and finally, let go.

After having traveled for five weeks straight, my perspective has shifted. The Road frees us. It can also shackle us, but moving helps. Whether we choose to accept it or not, the Tao moves with or without us. Within us and without us.

"lover of truth
follow no path

all paths lead where
truth is here"
~ e.e. cummings

The dog had been gently scratching at the car door after five hours of our sixteen-hour drive back home. We stopped at Liberty Lane somewhere in eastern Oregon off of Highway ninety-seven. Being cooped up in a small jalopy can be a strain on anyone, including a canine. Or especially a canine who is the size of a small horse, and loves to run. And so he ran free, as the dark clouds came closer, still illuminating our spot in the Present. We all need to stretch our legs, ourselves when we feel stuck.

I came into this world unstuck. I was born a traveler. I'm sure of it. My parents tell me I was "made in Palau." I've only got 10 stamps in my passport, and about 13 States I've been to, and like George Harrison summed it up for me, "the farther one travels, the less one really knows..." I, like so many countless others are in the Seeking business. Do we find ourselves by collecting the most toys?

Is the Path about suffering and pain, and then finding light and happiness, or vice versa? The rhetoric is always there to taunt us. I like to think that if we can always keep our minds just a little bit open, just like a door slightly ajar, we can maintain a certain level of levity, to help endure the storms, the insurmountable pain that we are forced to endure through Divorce, Death, or even Self-Destruction.

A church for sale seems ironic. Especially in a nowhere town. When a town is literally defined by having a bar and a church, and you find the church is for sale, it makes you wonder what happened to all the parishioners. They must've given up. Switched to Allah. Or maybe started reading the Tao Te Ching. Who knows? But I love life's little ironies.

We passed through a lot of small towns to get all the way to Pullman, Washington, where my husband's aunt lives. It is an incredibly beautiful drive through eastern California, Oregon and Washington. I'm all too familiar with the western side of the Pacific Northwest, but the eastern side really brings such contrast, that it's hard not to fall in love with it's scrolling beauty.

If we didn't understand contrast, like as a printer of black and white photography, we would never know about getting back to center. I had to learn that you always needed a true black, and a true white. And then it's a matter of bringing in the middle tones. Isn't that what this is all about? Find the balance. It's not all black and white.

Color exists, and so do shades of gray. So I pick my crayons, and tubes of paint, and choose to color a new world, or repaint the one I have, and hop on the Train to keep moving and enjoying the ride.

I saw a lot of folks who were very happy on their river in Egypt. And that's fine. I guess when you are Awake, and understand that there is always a Way Out of our stuckness, it makes the path a little more light. I'm not saying that it is easy to pull the needle out of the broken record (shit, that dates me!), as it takes a tremendous amount of Work to get to our marrow, the fibers that weave the warp and weft of who we are. A million self-help books to solve our relationships: to our parents, to our siblings, to our lovers, to our spouses, to our divorces, to our money, to our dogs, to our homes, to our spirits...and pretty soon, that scrolling landscape has passed us by.

I lived in France after high school for a year, and my first host family mother was adamant that I get as much French culture shoved down my throat as possible. At the beginning of my year with them, we took a drive to the south of France, where they had their summer home (and where they retired to) in Montauban, outside of Toulouse, and she would get us to stop at every cathedral, and historic landmark along the way. I remember her jostling me out of sleep to get me to see one more church. I could've cared less. I told her I was tired and just wanted to keep sleeping. She told me, "tu peux dormir quand tu rentres aux Etas-Unis." (you can sleep when you get back to the States.) And that has always stayed with me. I continue to awaken, and greet the day in a place of gratitude. Because I know that a new set of images will be unfurled from their scroll, and I get to interpret them in a new way.

Wanderlust has always (and continues to) feed my soul. Even if it's in my own backyard picking a basket of fresh strawberries from plants that the owners planted a few years back. All I do is water and fertilize them, and they nourish every fiber of my being. I will continue to Seek and Find myself right here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


When I was younger, and starry-eyed and full of poetry, I used to press wildflowers between books, especially between the leaves of my Norton's Anthology tome of poetry. I can still open that book, and find leaves or flowers pressed between. I have become a little more responsible and a little more jaded, but I still find the beauty in wildflowers.

Wildflowers have their own iambic pentameter about them. Their seeds become inevitably airborne, and if they land in a place where the climate, soil conditions are just right, they will take root, and spread their beauty in their new home. They are not pretentious, and often hide in crevices or blend in with the scenery.

I have always felt like a wildflower, and although my wildness has tempered itself a bit, my need for adventure and taking flight has not. So, we traveled last weekend to Weaverville, California, where my parents moved, to celebrate Father's Day. My mother had to write a sermon for Sunday, as she is the minister of a small, quaint congregation there; so my brother, my husband, my father and I took off for a hike and we breathed in fresh mountain air, and I stopped for every wildflower. Sure beats a Hallmark card, eh?

I love you,'re my favorite dad ever.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pause button

I think that lately I've really been craving a need to slow time way down. Anytime I'm behind the lens of a camera, it shifts my perspective. Having a macro lens shifts it even further. I hone in on light, on color, on shape, line.

Trying to stay present in today's urban world is an uphill battle. I am constantly trying to figure out where my pawn will move next so that I can get the queen out of her cave. Images become a way for me to stay focused on what's right in front of me, be it a human, an ant, a leaf, a monster truck. It really doesn't matter. People constantly want to know what kind of photographer I am. The kind that makes you feel, that makes you think, that moves your own axis a little. That's what kind.

So, take a walk. Try staying present. Notice the cracks in the pavement, and the world of creatures that live within them. Drink color, dance in contours, and find a way to come back to center. Carpe Diem.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

And...I'm back!

After a year hiatus from word one...I decided (and had a little external pressure) to come back to the web to show what I've been up to.

I did get my name in print (the new phone book's here! the new phone book's here!) in the Oakland magazine, accompanied by a photo I took for class over a year ago. It's the first time I've been published so it's kind of exciting.

I almost got my act together for a show this Friday, however, due to technical difficulties, and limited time, I was not able to pull it off. The theme was recycling, and tying into how west Oakland has a lot of up and coming artists who utilize recyclable materials. Here are the images I would've put on walls in frames (and might still, just not this Friday):

I think the first principle about recycling is reducing, and then following that is reusing. I would say that ninety percent of what I own is from craigslist, garage sales or thrift stores. I buy very little new items if I can help it. I try to think of the cost-added value of stuff. All the hands that went into making it, all the petroleum and machinery for production and delivery, the hands that package it, and deliver it, sell it. It's overwhelming to think of even the path of a toothbrush that you buy, and how in the end it is contributing to the growing landfills. I even have a disposable toothbrush head!

I bring my camera with me to garage sales, as I find it is culturally interesting what people are ready to part with for a little pocket change. A lot of people are trying to actually pare down their belongings, and others are throwing out the old so that they can get the latest, baddest, newest gadget or thing-a-ma-bob. I usually shop for things that are practical, that I have an actual use for immediately. I am attracted to things that sparkle and are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, however, I don't always need those, and thus, I am more inclined to just take photos. In fact, I'm ready to just take photos of most things I own that no longer serve an immediate purpose/need and then have my own garage sale, or even just donate to the thrift stores. Having recently moved, it reminds me of how much stuff I actually own, and what a pain in the ass it is to move it from one place to another, even if I just moved next door.

The rest of the stuff I own is recycled creative supplies, whether it's fabric, paper, coins, sequins, ribbons...I am crafty and like to create recycled art.

Here were the images that didn't make the cut: