The sun is already well above the horizon, but I go on down anyway.
It’s a tiny paradise of riotous sound down here, a cacophony of birds – funny to think we associate being in nature with quiet, when it can be so very noisy.
A red-winged blackbird flies straight at me as if to say, Hello! Where have you been? It’s been a few days, and you’ve missed all kinds of things – the buds are all over the trees, the geese have taken over the duck ponds, and they fight with the muskrat who’s always after their eggs, and the turtles are back, and so much is going on… what happened to you?The push-pull – some days I think, really I don’t need any more half-assed nature photos, so I skip it, stay home and do yoga.
Other days I head out, starting with a kind of fast walk exercise intention, and then inevitably there’s an image – a flicker of light in the trees, the grasses, the movement of a bird, an animal, and I pull my camera out of my bag and I’m in, disappearing for hours into this world.But although I love taking pictures, I know that for me the camera is really more of a pretext to hang out here.
A raccoon lumbers up a tree and I watch his slow lazy movements, camera idle over my shoulder.
A hawk circles above, a spiral climbing higher and higher on unseen currents.
Yellow finches dot the tops of trees, the red-winged blackbirds chase each other through shrubs and grasses, the ducks appear suddenly from the sky in a chaos of clumsy squawking and crashing down into the water.
I watch. I listen.A tiny bird sits atop an old dead tree. Minutes pass. The bird looks around, curious, assessing, no hurry.
There’s a quiet shifting sound as another turtle comes onto the rock and the first turtle makes room for him.
I think about this lack of urgency. The rhythm of birds and animals at rest and their freedom without the pressures of money and traffic and jobs and social mores and the feeling that all us humans have been sucked into some grinding soulless machinery that is modern society. I remember that amazing, devastating article by George Monbiot –
In a society bombarded by advertising and driven by the growth imperative, pleasure is reduced to hedonism and hedonism is reduced to consumption. We use consumption as a cure for boredom, to fill the void that an affectless, grasping, atomised culture creates, to brighten the grey world we have created…
Working hours rise, wages stagnate or fall, tasks become duller, more stressful and harder to fulfill, emails and texts and endless demands clatter inside our heads, shutting down the ability to think, corners are cut, services deteriorate, housing becomes almost impossible to afford, there’s ever less money for essential public services. What and whom is this growth for?
Why do we feel the need to live our lives as if at war with our very selves?
When was it decided that joy was something we have to quash as children so we can be obedient enough to work at a job we hate and subscribe to some ThankGodItsFriday existence and care about celebrities we’ll never meet?
For whom, exactly, are we doing this?
The sun is getting higher.
Here and there I take a photo – a tree, a duck, a nesting goose.The ducks and geese meander about the pond, delighting in sensation, joy palpable as they douse themselves, ducking under again and again, bathing, covering themselves in water.The light dances in the bubbling creek, but in the viewfinder I feel like I’m looking at pixels, looking at 1’s and 0’s and it separates me from this place, and I go back to just watching and listening… And then I feel it begin, the moment when the light, the air, some magic comes over me like a lover’s gust from behind and I suddenly feel it – lift off.
Lift off is my word for it, but it’s a sensation that comes like a rain shower – not so much over my body as some inner spirit thing where I feel like the “I”, the “me” disappears, my brain finally shuts up and I am no longer a person per se, I am just alive, breathing, experiencing this world.
It is bliss.
I wonder if it’s why some people meditate.
I wonder if it’s what runners feel during runners high.
It is a feeling of such freedom – so far far away from Monbiot’s grasping atomised culture, it is the place where time disappears.
It’s the reason I come here.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Intricate