Musings from the Darkroom: Life Axioms

Life Axiom: Aging

You know you are getting old when you pause after dropping something and ponder if it is worth the energy and trouble to actually pick up. The debate goes something like this:

Did anyone else see me drop it? If yes, pick it up (without grunting…I may be getting old but I don’t need to publically perpetuate my creaky old-man slovenliness, just yet). If no, where did it fall? Is it easily seen? Is it likely to be picked up by someone else? Does its out-of-place presence add to the mean clutter rating of the surroundings? Do I need it right now? Do I have another one? Is it something of value? What is the opportunity cost of salvage? What is its value relative to the pain and suffering required to bend over?

I don’t know, maybe it’s just a man thing. However, of late, I have noticed an increasing correlation between age, length of self-debate and repossession percentage.

Anna Humble Williams 1955-2014

The loss of a loved one is always painful. The physical separation cuts deep into our psyche, affecting that part of us solely reserved for the connection we shared with the lost and bears sobering awareness of our own mortality. The continued lack of access is a constant reminder that there are no do-overs, the scoreboard is off and the game is in the books. How we view life most affects our interest in the scoreboard, others’ and our own.

There is, however, a certain hollow, reverberant sadness that echoes the loss of an estranged loved one. Someone loved, but one who chose a life which in the end, there remains only a disappointing void of previous and now permanent loss of opportunity for the gathering of anything other than the few remaining good memories, obscured by a lifetime of un-pleasantries.

How does one look at the aggregate actions of a life at its closing and apply value. Life value is measured on what scale? Human nature is to use a ledger…to keep score.  We all do it. We do it to ourselves.  We do it to others.  We count balls, strikes, hits, runs and errors. We say this was wrong and that was right. We judge. It is much easier to accept the passing of a loved one whose ledger always tallied in the black. The difficulty lies in the accounting of those with a lifetime of withdrawals with little or no appreciation of their debt and its effect on the lives having underwritten egocentric behavior. Their ledger with us now being closed, deeply in the red.

Christians are guilty of continuing to place checkmarks in our mental ledgers about ourselves and others even after accepting Calvary’s negation of any need for the monitoring of someone’s debits or credits. It is in our basal nature. Perhaps it can only be with true unconditional love, the kind of love a parent has for a child or the heavenly father has for his children, that we can see the proper appraisal of a life that on any scale has not measured up. Our judgment will always be short. Only when we completely understand that concept will we ever see the real value of what Jesus did on that cross.

I won’t profess to have all the answers. Frankly, as I’ve grown older, my world has grown much less black and white. However, the one lesson I constantly carry away from the examination and celebration at the loss of friends and family members is that, regardless of what the afterlife may bring, the only reality with which we should concern ourselves is the selfless living of the one we now navigate. At each funeral, it appears more obvious that, at the end, a life invested in others was the worthwhile life and one to be emulated.

Musings from the darkroom: Meaning and to Matter

(for my daughters)

The influence of religion, philosophy, family, friends, enemies, government, the media and just waking up every day on the air side of terra firma will at some point bring you to the meaning question.  It is a question that some never confront and one for which others seem to have all the answers.  Be skeptical of both and remember that exclusivity is the derivation of a narrow mind.  As it is with most of life, the truth is somewhere in the middle.  The only significant answer is one sought by your own intellect and heart.  I don’t pretend to have many answers.  I have, however, observed that the majority of people that find meaning in daily life also feel that what they do in life matters, even if not to others.

The best opportunity to feel like what you do in life matters is to position yourself to always have options, as many as possible, to fulfill your ability to contribute to life in a meaningful way.  The principle avenues insuring your available options are education and relationships. Primarily, both formal and lifelong self-directed education will always increase the probability of opportunity and choice.  Secondarily, the cultivation of personal and professional relationships will enhance your capacity to appropriately insert your skills, knowledge and uniqueness into society.  Growing your mind is critical, but so is the ability to functionally share it with others.

The antithesis of this lifestyle may be seen in some that contemplate suicide.  Often they feel trapped by life’s circumstances, seemingly without escape from an option-less existence other than ending life. How ultimately and completely sad is a life without hope.  It has been well said by Alexander Chalmers, “The three grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love and something to hope for.” Prepare yourself for a life of living your options. One thing is certain, life hardly ever plays straight from our well-intended scripts.

Musings from the Darkroom: Life Axioms – Aging

Truisms continue to reveal themselves, often while thinking about photography, taking or admiring photos and sometimes in the solitude of my laptop virtual darkroom.

Life Axiom:  It’s a sad day when you get to the point where you can comb your hair with a towel.

Musings from the Darkroom: Dog Days

The whippoorwill singing atop the live oak by the lake can barely be heard above the katydids, the rumbling of offshore storms and the hum of the mosquito magnet working overtime in the backyard’s windward corner.  The slow, yellow-green blinking of lightenin’ bugs seems abruptly switched on and the white flashes of the approaching storms fill the impending darkness as the retreating sun de-saturates dusk’s canvas.  Even at this time of the evening the temperature remains oppressive while the seasonal sou’westerly trade winds keep the humidity palpable.  Streams merge with tributaries that form rivers of sweat flowing south across our nearly naked bodies as we bask in the sauna that is August in Florida.  We are deep in the dog days of summer.  And, making it official, there in his normal evening perch in the foxtail palm sits the mockingbird, songless.  Relentless they are, these dog days of summer.  It seems they will never end.

Mockingbirds sit out this harshest part of the summer.  But no, we aren’t so smart.  We continue suffering our daily activities, wondering how anything might have ever been done in the deep south with clothes on and without air-conditioning…or a blender and ice.  Blended, frozen libations in overpriced insulated plastic tumblers and the occasional dip in the pool are the sum of our attempts at mediating the endless onslaught of dog days.  It’s a difficult battle, but one we are willing to wage.  One made easier by the knowledge that heat and humidity do not require a shovel.  I’ll let y’all know when the mockingbird starts singing again.