28 August 2011

Sunday Meditation #3: Everything I Want Is Obsolete

In the fading nickel-silver light of a Saturday afternoon, I saw a herd of deer cropping the grass down on the flood plain of a small river.  I do not know how many there were, my guess is at least ten.  I was driving past them, and the road was some tens of feet higher than the flat ground upon which they stood.  The ground itself was behind a house just ahead, tucked into one corner of the T- intersection of the road.  I gasped in delight.  I would have liked to stop and take their picture, but I was driving to dinner and I needed to devote my attention to the road.

Still, the image stayed with me throughout the meal.  I wondered what kind of picture I would have been able to take.  The camera that was with me, a Nikon EM, has become my favorite new road trip companion.  I had it loaded with black and white film, a medium I have come to enjoy quite much.  The pictures it takes aren't perfect, but they are lovely and they comfort me.

It was the deer and the light and the camera that led me to ruminate on the things that bring me peace, that make me understand the joy in this life.  Nature, photography, thinking, writing...all pursuits that anchor and exhilarate me.  These are the things that bring me peace.  I find myself recharged after walking in the woods, or by a lake, or even just somewhere among green, growing things.  The sight of deer makes me happy; the sight of construction cranes and chewed-up landscapes leave me uneasy and sometimes sad.

Nature seems to get short shrift these days.  It isn't sexy enough, it doesn't have enough volume or makeup.  The only time people seem to care about it is when it gets in the way of building something or it unleashes violence upon civilization.  Nature in an old-fashioned sense, seems to be getting obsolete.

Increasingly I find myself drawn to old-fashioned Nature as a restorative.  I feel the same about photography and writing.  But not just any writing.  As much as the computer facilitates getting these thoughts out of my head, I still get a lot of juice out of dragging pen across paper.   Letters, notes, thoughts...some days I wonder if I had been a professional scribe in a past life.  But pen and paper, they too, seem to be getting obsolete.  This to me is a saddening turn of events.

Photography, well, is another creature altogether.  I credit the purchase of a digital camera nearly two years ago with reawakening my interest in the art form.  I finally found a way to get to the core of issue, the output, so much faster than before.  This was revelatory, and led me to a sustained burst of picture taking, the echoes of which have yet to fade.  But, still, something was coming up short.

It amused me to discover that while I enjoyed the immediacy and the clarity of digital photography, it was the slow pace and fuzziness of film photography that had a grip on my imagination.  I think this goes back to the root inspiration of this post.  I discovered that I need the slower pace, the contemplative turn of the mind, the measured consideration of the act and the output to truly feel at peace in this world.  This leads me to walks in the woods, quiet conversations founded in love, the cameras that take film, and the page with watermarks that come clear when held to the light.  Soon, I will purchase a fountain pen, probably with an honest-to-god brass nib and filled with ink out of a little glass jar.  These are the things I want.

And the things I want seem to be obsolete, with the possible exception of love.  I see the deer, chase the light knowing full well I may be pursuing an archaic notion of beauty.  But I continue to hold out the hope that love, in the quiet bloom of sustaining the soul, will never be obsolete.  If it does, then I too will be obsolete.  Stubbornly, uselessly, beautiful obsolete, perhaps, but still believing in love and beauty that can be enjoyed without having to be possessed.


  1. As long as there is a single soul that holds on, they are not obsolete.

  2. "Nature seems to get short shrift these days. It isn't sexy enough, it doesn't have enough volume or makeup."

    Lovely writing. And so true.

  3. TLG says as long as one soul believes . . . and I say that as long as two believe then that beauty exists and what more can you really ask for?


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...