Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cardinal Sin

Cardinal "Sin"
Keller, TX

Use what talents you posses; the woods would be
very silent if no birds snags there except
those that sang best.
~Henry Van Dyke

If we could simply assign sins degrees of gravity, I've thought that the most grave would be those that fall into the realm of causing self affliction. Ones where you cause harm by cheating yourself and the life you lead short; where you squander your life, and talent, simply to chase your material well being but do nothing to satisfy your emotional and spiritual well being.

We all have things we need to do such as raising and providing for our families. (There are some who readily shun those obligations and society frowns upon them as it should.) However, within the context of living there remains something which seems to allude most and that is the satisfaction of exploiting and discovering our own talents.

Since 2010, I've been on a quest somewhat like Ponce de Leon seeking my own spiritual fountain of youth something to quench my thirst for meaning and purpose and in the process discover my talents. My purpose unfolds for me as I commune with my visual world. It inspires and drives to me experience and participate in life rather than read about it or watch it on television.

Don't want someone else to tell me about it but rather, I want to be its witness firsthand. My talent is my ability to convey to others both what I've seen and heard and tell a story that inspires others to do and find the same.

It should not surprise us if it others don't feel the same because we are all different. In fact it shouldn't upset us if others think we are absurd or they don't comprehend. The cardinal sin is to ignore that restlessness that may reside within you; that is for the logical a very frightening Nicodemus experience. We have to let go of the fears that have constrained us.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Being Dad: What's Does It Take?

Dad: Headed to 91
Oya Mala, Puerto Rico

As I observe my son-in-law, take on his triplets, I can't help but notice all the great qualities he has for this massive undertaking. Like my Dad, Travis is a tremendous hard worker and dedicated to his family above all. 

He Worked
My father came to the US mainland in 1949. He labored in all kinds of manufacturing jobs in New York City and later Connecticut so that his children could be educated. Although he rarely had time he kept his Sabbaths open for us. At times though during his forties he worked several jobs to keep afloat.

There wasn't time for a lot of play or luxury for him. He worked and worked and continued to work until the age of 76. His life up until that time was filled with many reversals but he did not and would not quit even though he was plagued by a genetic flaw: depression. Without medication he forged through it with the help of my mother by his side.

He ruled us with a firm hand but we knew that he loved us, but we also dared not cross him. Still at the age of 90, I respect him enough not to argue with him or anger him. Most of his decisions were right and he kept me from making severe mistakes by setting a great example. My father never drank and never smoked. He was always home unless he was working. His hands were scarred by work related injuries but I also remembered his hands comfortably holding a pen to write his ideas (Bible studies down).

Some of us wait till our parents are deceased to say flowery things about them. I would rather honor my father now before any onset of sorrow. Dad demonstrated his love by his capacity to relentlessly toil for his family and by granting his unconditional love to both his now adult children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. 

As my parents aged, Dad and Mom, took care of each other. Each played doctor and nurse at times. When my mother experienced the last stages of dementia, my father slept on the floor by her bed at home. He took great care of her and cooked for her when she no longer could. Exhausted by her illness he stood fast by her side and anguished over her illness. 

So what does it take to be like him? It takes a real man to love his children and face adversity. It takes a resolve to succeed against all odds and to make a child's future better and more comfortable. It takes vision to leave a child with something intangible that no one can take away such as a trade, a passion, or an education.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Miles & Blanche

75 Prospect St
Winsted, CT

Been thinking about posting this story for a while, but I was always reluctant to talk about this very private love story. Suppose I didn't want to tattle on old folks or snitch if you know what I mean. They were both white headed, very dapper for their ages somewhere north of their seventies I presumed.

Blanche (an appropriate New England name) was slender and a tall lady with very elegant features, pristine white hair and always wore bright red lipstick I remember. For years she had worked at a local ladies boutique, Isaacson's on Main Street. Every hair on her head was permed its seemed to me and her tight silver curls graced her head almost like a tiara graces some kind of royal. The curls belonged there as as did the pearl necklace and earrings she always wore.

He was ruggedly handsome with a strong jaw but his arthritis nearly crippled him and after a while he walked with two canes, one for each hand. He would always come to visit Blanche every Sunday evening. I knew this as fact because he was our landlord on 75 Prospect Street. A very kind man who never raised his voice and who when he talked his voice smiled.

Miles, that was his name and it was easy for me to remember cause I thought of him as Smiles. Smiles the man who every Christmas gave us December's month of $75 rent free. Hard not to forget when he knocked on our door to give us the news. It meant more gifts for us each year.

Miles and Blanche were good Catholics but he was married and she was single still. Miles could not divorce and marry Blanche. He had to wait for his wife to pass. For years Miles would visit Blanche and stay for long hours to chat; two old lovers and wonderful friends, I recall. There was something special about their love, friendship, and loyalty. They didn't have to be married to care for each other but they did. Never saw them hold hands or display affection though but I certainly could feel their love.

It's been over forty years since I saw either of them but there's something always that makes me think of them. Can't say I know but it warms my heart thinking of them in the apartment above ours on a cold winter's night on 75 Prospect St. Suppose they never married but I like to think that somewhere Blanche and Miles are holding hands properly and more than friends eternally.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Day of Iguana
Rincon, Puerto Rico
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, 
whether it is to sail or to watch
-we are going back from whence we came.
John F. Kennedy

Had the good fortune to spend some time with my father in Puerto Rico. While there I stole sometime to head to Rincon beach on the western side of the island. Needed to hear the ocean surf and for a bit still my soul and rock it with the constant undulation of Caribbean Sea.

Rincon Surfer
Rincon, Puerto Rico
Near the lighthouse, just south of Aguadilla, I was able to observe both the iguana and beach surfer, one on land the other on the sea. Each enjoying what the ocean offers and simultaneously basking in the sun. It seems that over the years, we forget what simply makes us content and some of it is free of charge and requires no mortgage.

Yet many of us voyagers, on this journey called life, have managed to mortgage our best years of life to quench insatiable desires believing we will find the illusive happiness. Don't believe any longer that happiness can be measured by the square footage of my house, its contents, nor the automobile I drive. Can't say I know exactly what defines it or how I can measure it, but I think both surfer and iguana may be on to something greater than I've found on my quest.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy Place

Happiness: Carters New Teeth

"The constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. 
You have to catch it yourself."
Benjamin Franklin

For nearly a year, I've heard folks tell me to find my happy place, a foreign concept for me. As an adult married early in his life, my focus simply has been on keeping my family healthy and intact, providing, surviving jobs that ill suited my personality, and fostering some semblance of stability for my inherited prefabricated family. 

Annie: Fourth Generation Annie
Yes, I was grateful that I could provide and care for my family. As far as personal joy it was always postponed and quite frankly gave it very little thought. Like other men, I chased dollars and cents in a number of jobs which totally thwarted my personality and crushed at times my remaining self esteem or thwarted and numbed my creativity.

As I approached my fifties, a different stirring began in my life, a quite revolution within started, battles between doubt and servitude, between practicality and pragmatism surfaced. The internal name calling began with terms such as selfish and bad. A Nascar type regulator took hold of my life. Each time I wanted to venture out of my comfort zone it held me back.

Three years without work and nine months of exile far from my family and friends changed me. Nearly four solid years of writing and walking and eventually hiking in the mountains of Tucson changed me.

What I am talking about is not a midlife crisis but rather a midlife discovery. The life I've been leading has been to please others. To some extent it has not pleased even those that I've wanted to please the most within my family. While they have found their happy place with various degrees, I've fought it with my "pragmatism". Had it not been for my two new found mistresses, photography and nature I would have not enjoyed any semblance of happy as I was bogged down by my fears of financial ruin.

Brennan: Happiness is A Good Nap
Nearly eight months ago, however another form of happy touched my life. It was quite unexpected for me because it revolved around new family and the birth of my daughter's triplets. While I was away in Tucson, she enjoyed a happy pregnancy and the news of a triplet pregnancy. She went from being told she wouldn't have any children to preparing for three.

Although I had given up on the hopes of finding a job again in Dallas and loved Tucson, I made more effort to try to be there for at least the birth of the triplets. In the process, a week after their birth, I found a job back in Dallas.

Now and forever going forward along with all my dreams of finding happy in my creativity and within myself, these three grandchildren will always be part of my happy. That's why today, I choose to share a different form of "happy" with all of you. Don't give up on your "happy place". It's not limited to just one event or thing.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

No Looking Back

A Few Jagged Edges
Pima Canyon
Tucson, AZ

Seems like yesterday that I was frequenting Pima Canyon either on the weekends or for a quick escape during the week. It really was the reward for taking on a job that failed expectations from the beginning. I tried not to show my elation but the location was excellent for what I needed 90% of the time.

Nature fills the voids that money can't fill. It furnishes the art that you can't buy nor the lodging you can afford. It envelops you in its own luxury and makes you wealthy beyond measure.

Yes my images are hyperboles of what I've seen. However they reflect and convey the harmonic tones enriched by my soul after numerous vibrations. In short its how I see it and how I've experienced it. Others, I am sure will see it and express it differently.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Desert Solitude

Adobe Fixings
Near Drexel Heights
Tucson, AZ

What makes the desert beautiful
is that somewhere it hides a well.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Was reminiscing about my brief oasis in the desert which I enjoyed for nearly a month last year. It was a modest but quaint adobe home nestled between two magnificent landmarks in Drexel Heights just southwest of theTucson city limits.  For the first time in a long time, I had solitude and plenty of time to think clearly free from the noise of suburban life.

Photographer: Desert Shadows
The barren landscape was filled with gentle giant saguaros and shapely rocks hewn by nature into magnificent shapes all shades of reds to browns. At night the stars provided a bejeweled blanket of twinkling cosmic LED lighting interspersed with an even brighter moonlight. Occasionally I would be awakened by the howling and barking of coyote pups playing before their meals.

This was home. I was inspired even though I was terribly alone. However, even though I had to work, it was not unusual for me to steal time away and come home before the sunset so that I could walk the countryside and catch a glimpse of the daily splendor which surrounded me. It sharpened my senses and I was keenly aware of my surroundings.

Alone is not bad if you can be left to create and explore the companion that lies within. If you can study what is around you and begin to interact with life itself, you will find your role to play. We were meant to participate in life not merely be voyeurs of someone else's journey that makes no sense at all. We were meant to study it all to participate/partake.

From shadows to textures, the desert provided me the spiritual refreshment and renewal I longed for. If it had not been for a financial derailment, none of this would have ever materialized. My journey would never have been as interesting. Despite the unpleasant agony realized, something special happened to me. It was an awakening and a spiritual baptism.