Intricate worlds

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?red-winged blackbird speaksThe 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.willow treeBut 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.tiny bird atop old treeA 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.
3 turtles on rocksI 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?

Yes, exactly.
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.goose nestingThe 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.goose face abstract waterThe 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… creek through tree trunksAnd 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.
pathway turnsWeekly Photo Challenge – Intricate

230 thoughts on “Intricate worlds”

    1. Thanks so much for reading, SLP! Very glad you enjoyed the Monbiot. I find all his articles to be pretty darn sharp, but in that one he just hits all the bases – consumer culture, climate change, income inequality… devastating.

  1. There has been a long struggle in history to get the government into the hands of the general population, not just an elite. he newspapers had a considerable role in that. But now it seems the politicians and the news media are owned by the rich, and they have changed things to make it more and more favorable for the extemely wealthy, at the expense of ordinary people. It is being made more and more so that everything an ordinary person does is done by working for or buying things from a big company, which serves as a funnel for money from the many to the few. The jobs that paid good wages in North America have mostly been sent to China by wealthy investors.
    It is being done like a sleight-of-hand magician does things his audience doesn’t notice, by directing their attention to something else. The US has been the leading country in the world for a long time, but the industry that it got its wealth and power from has been given to China, which is bound to be the new power in the world. The US is too far in debt to ever recover without its industry.
    I read about a study which looked at all the societies all through history they could find out about whose rate of use of the environment exceeded its capacity, ones with an elite, and ones without. They all collapsed eventually. In no case could an elite resist grabbing more and more til the ordinary people starved. Then the elite starved, too, because there was nobody left to do the work.
    I myself aim for being able to live independent of the mony economy. I figure that a day will come when he who doesn’t sit down and grow something to eat won’t HAVE anything to eat. I think a lot of people feel that approaching, to judge by the number of people who have an interest in local food production today. Find a way to grow your food!


    1. Last summer I grew my first green peppers. First veggies ever.
      Now I just need a farm…. πŸ™‚
      Yes, Terron, I concur with all your thoughts – the funnel, the sleight of hand, the disintegrating environment.
      So, preparing to get off the grid is the only thing to do? I suspect you’re right.

  2. Inspiring. I love that taking photos like these compel u to tune into and slow down along with the deeper rhythms in the nonverbal found in nature. It’s so easy to feel barraged by everything and go a 60 plus miles an hour. Reading this makes me want to sit in my garden and attune to the sounds of the birds and the breeze–I wonder what kind of day that would be as opposed to jumping online and plugging in right away.

    1. You know, Diahann, I’m trying to make it a practice – to make sure each day has a moment like this, in the same way that some people meditate every day. It is so so hard to commit the time to it, because it’s not really exercise once I’ve arrived there, and it certainly doesn’t make money, but it is a moment in the day when I feel so very ALIVE, that I think it’s important, and needs to be prioritized.

      1. I loved this piece and can relate to it so well. I have a woodland trail that I walk once or twice a day and normally make it my “exercise” and do it briskly. After reading a comment by Thoreau where he used the term “sauntering” I found myself slowing down and taking in what was around me instead of charging along — and being okay with that. Stopping and noticing droplets of rain hanging from a blade of grass, a squirrel hiding behind a tree… It truly is meditation or a form of mindfulness that I believe is very healing on a deep level… Thank you for sharing your experience of it with the rest of us. It’s inspiring and soothing…

  3. Thank you for bringing your essence of Peace within your photo’s and I loved walking along with you in your thoughts thank you for sharing them.. I so enjoyed sinking into the beauty of them.
    Love Sue

  4. This is a gorgeous work of art, life and love. It has inspired me to go out and explore my own backyard now that the rain has stopped.
    Burns the Fire sent me!

  5. I have come back to this post often. Each time savoring the moments you captured with your visual artist eye (goodness! I love the golden ripples…) and your seeker’s heart.
    I forget what red wings black birds sound like.

    1. You don’t have red winged blackbirds over there? They are very plentiful here. They have a slightly metallic trill, a two-toned warble that they belt out with such force their bodies contract with it… πŸ™‚

  6. The pictures added artistry to an already wonderful written piece. You have a talent for art and the written word.

  7. Wow. Absolutely gorgeous and thought provoking. I find myself asking many of these same questions lately.

  8. Hi there, I’ve come back to blogging after some time away and this is one of the first posts I have read. It so perfectly encapsulates how I have been feeling about the world of late, and so beautifully! Thank you ☺

  9. I think all those who haven’t yet abandoned their true selves (which is due to this brainwashing society) go through similar phases of trying to regain the feeling of being in touch with nature. It really can be healing at times. I love the photos too.

  10. What an expression!!we are through it everyday and we fail to reach that state of freedom!! Glad u are that stage.. Loved it

    1. So glad you liked it. But you know, I don’t get that feeling every day. I’ve come to think of it as a kind of practice, and some days there is that feeling of bliss, but not all days.

  11. This piece is beautiful, its amazing what you can observe simply by taking a break and absorbing it all in. Both the chaotic and peaceful aspect. Beautiful

  12. Beautiful and relaxing post. Nice to see another person perspective on Life as we human has fashioned it for ourselves. I agree that nature should be our teacher and we need to “unplug” ourselves sometimes to understand what life is really trying to show us. New follower can’t wait to see more from you.

  13. Hi! I love finding other people that share a sane sort of viewpoint, it’s literally a breath of fresh air for me! Just walking amongst the trees today with my wife and baby, 2 hours slipped by without us even noticing! We (gasp!) didn’t even bring our phones! 2 hours of unplug, the perfection and placid depth of the woods experience is simply inexplicable, no matter our feeble attempts to replicate it with words or paintbrushes. It just penetrates you completely and is perfect. I thank you for sharing:)

      1. Kim was having a little bit of withdrawal but I found it quite liberating:) plus I got to go shirtless! It was excellentπŸ‘πŸ˜„

  14. I’m brand new to this and I’m so glad your post was the first I read and I stumbled upon it completely by chance! I’m currently studying an animal based degree and I so loved every word out wrote! Thank-you. PK Loukabella.

  15. I loved this especially because i am one of those people who associate nature with silence so to read this and to envision hearing these beautiful sounds and to see your beautiful photos of all you’ve seen it just changed my mind completely of my idea of nature. Amazing , maybe i should take more walks lol

  16. I really loved this , your words makes it easy for me to envision and hear all that went on while you were on your walk but the pictures , oh my goodness the pictures just made it all perfect amazing.

  17. Your photos are stunning and I like your post.
    I agree – being out in nature is a wonderful thing – time no longer matters and gives freedom to be you.

  18. Thank you for posting that article as a reference! It’s scary how accurate that is. My husband and I have shifted our values away from almost everything that epitomizes American culture, and we couldn’t be happier. For me, this actually all started in nature on long hikes.Enjoying the beauty of the natural world and appreciating all of the little things that often go unnoticed.


    P.S. Love the last photo…beautiful!

    1. Monbiot is able to sum stuff up in a terrifying way… I also noticed I found the whole Hunger Games Trilogy to be awfully close to a reality we live in now.

  19. This is a heart warming post and lovely pictures. I have found myself sitting in a garden.

  20. This is such an inspiring post! I recently moved to a new city and I have yet to find a new “spot” but this encourages me to get out there are find one… or at least to look.

    I grew up playing and exploring nature and it has remained a very important part of my life. It’s very exciting to read something like this that has the ability to transport you back to that place….You write very beautiful prose and your photos compliment your writing.

    I absolutely love this line:
    “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.”

    When I was little I always thought it was so strange when authors would speak of the silence of nature. The nature that I know (and that you described) is full of vibrant chatter and movement–it’s all very exciting while being simultaneously calming.

    Thanks for writing such a great post!

    Enjoy your day,

    1. Oh you definitely need to find yourself a new spot!
      Funny, when we were moving to this place, about a year ago, I looked on the map and saw there was this stretch of green near the address we were considering, and it was part of the pull. Even so, I had no idea how much I’d end up falling in love with that little bit of green.
      So glad I was on the mark about the bird racket! πŸ™‚
      Best to you,

  21. I can so relate to this shifting between experiencing something and documenting it. Just yesterday I went to Los Penasquitos canyon preserve in San Diego to hike three miles to a waterfall. I packed up my camera and the three most likely used lenses in order to properly document all I surveyed.

    Upon arrival, I decided that just being there was more than enough. I carried my camera gear for seven miles altogether and didn’t take a single shot. It seemed inappropriate and unreverent to do so. It’s sometimes akin to spending days making an intricate sand mandala and then trying to coat it in bar-top resin to seal it in forever. Containing beauty can sometimes take away from the magic that derives from impermanence.

    I will say that I am glad that you indulged the urge to document because those are some lovely photographs you got there.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, James.
      It’s almost Protestant Work Ethic or something – if I take a picture here and there, I feel like I’m doing something “productive”.
      A hike to Los Penasquitos canyon sounds amazing. I’ll admit, since I wasn’t there to experience it, I would like to see those photos… living vicariously… πŸ™‚
      But I like your analogy of the sand mandala. And if you’re busy with a camera in front of your face, it’s much harder to really breathe a place in.

      1. I usually only unplug from the recording every now and again. As a photographer, it would be suicide to do it all the time. Just every so often, it feels good to be truly present in a place of majesty. I live close to the canyon, so I can always return and resume the role of reporter.

        Perhaps it’s the medium mixed with the current trend of social media posts. As a blogger I’m always looking for subject matter. And then one must Pin, Tweet, Vine, Tumble and Book of Face it. I wonder what it was like to sit and do a plein air painting to convey a scene back in the day. At least with painting your forced to truly see your surroundings. Not as easy to upload though.

  22. Perhaps my comment will fall between the cracks of the many you’ve already received. I’m sure there are many connoisseurs of art and nature – who appreciate your work – posting here and crediting your skillful images. Today I comment to extend a hand in appreciation for this post. I enjoyed that you tied art to nature and philosophy. Your description took the reader on a ride that was sensual & sensory, walking us through the images in a way that painted a very vivid image of an active nature in our imaginations. As an aspiring game designer, even though that’s not what my blog is about, I am very appreciative to have stumbled across such a labor of careful attention to narrative detail.

    Please, keep up the good work =)

    1. Beautifully made games are a wonder to behold… I see some of the stuff my son plays and I’m blown away by the amount of talent and attention to detail…
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.

  23. I’m an advocate for people with ptsd and neorological issues, This entry is soothoing to the average person in out fast paced world. For brain injury survivors it is heaven.

  24. What a beautiful take on such simple moments of life. I love how much you appreciate every noise and sight.
    Anyways please check out my blog I post elaborations of ordinary words and talk about how much they really mean on Wednesdays. I also post beauty articles and free writes Monday’s and Fridays πŸ™‚

  25. Well done, thought provoking indeed. Looking at the response of your comments, we are all thinking the same! Live your passion, follow your dreams, and don’t let your fun be squashed or quashed… πŸ™‚ xx

  26. this is gorgeous! i felt like i was reading a picture-book for grown-ups. your words painted most of the picture and the photographs were like shimmering splashes of paint on top. i hope you keep going with these! πŸ™‚

  27. The red winged black bird- I saw my first one 2 days ago -that flash of red on black is hard to miss. I didn’t have my camera at the time.

  28. Expressed perfectly…I also feel this way whenever I walk under the trees gathering dyestuffs. It is quiet, then noisy, then peaceful. Thank you for expressing this so well. I will enjoy your future postings.

  29. Con mas o menos dificultades porque mi ingles no es demasiado bueno te he leΓ­do y me parece de una exposiciΓ³n magistral y de una poesΓ­a extraordinaria. Y como tus sentimientos y tu forma de ver la vida y las cosas se asemeja mucho a la mΓ­a…te seguirΓ© leyendo.

  30. Very thoughtful and at the same time. Very inspiring. . Your pictures are just fabulous love it !!!!! Congrats on putting up such a fabulous post

  31. I enjoyed reading you , you described perfectly the sensations I had experienced in similar contest by being in nature. Lovely ! πŸ™‚ thank you

  32. Wow, you are a very talented writer! This sensation you describe as bliss is so difficult to describe and you nailed it. Thank you so much for the inspiration.

  33. Reblogged this on justwriting and commented:
    I truly agree. Why do we need to fight for a our lives? Its as if that life is a battlefield. Why is it that we only think of surviving and not actually living. We work for work thats why we struggle, if only we could work because passion. We work for a living not because we love the work. At the end of the day in the four corners of our room we will realize that it is another day wasted for things that didn’t help us to grow. We stay in a place we feel comfortable enough to survive life. If only we have many options to choose the life that we want without sacrificing the obligations to our families. If only.

  34. I was really drawn to the picture of the trees, I felt as if I could write a whole story based on that pic. That is why people meditate to reach that same “lift off” that you reach…thanks for sharing! The final pic is amazing too, would really love to walk there!

  35. Beautiful post. And yes you are exactly right, this is why people meditate, in order to tap into that very same feeling of just Being. Enjoy it. That’s all that really matters is Being Here Now. I think you would appreciate Alan Watts’ lectures, there are quite a lot on YouTube.

    1. Yes, Watts is brilliant, isn’t he? I find the content of his lectures riveting – an expansive mind allowed to fly is a wondrous thing indeed…

  36. I love this. Your writing pulls me into your world and I kind of feel like I’d like to take a walk around and hang out there a while. πŸ™‚ Beautiful nature pics. How lucky to be able to go for a walk and see tiny turtles and beautiful blue birds like that! πŸ™‚

  37. “Why do we feel the need to live our lives as if at war with our very selves ?” I loved reading this it was very moving and shows how we should all appreciate life more and go for a walk πŸ™‚ Thank you

  38. You have a wonderful way to express yourself in your writings. Also, beautiful photos that fit in perfectly with your thoughts.

  39. I love how you describe entering the “zone” of Nature, becoming part of it, at one with it. That is the joy of being out there, and it is so nourishing, way more nourishing than buying another pair of shoes, eating a restaurant meal, or watching another movie somewhere. Nature embraces us and welcomes us the way it enfolds all of its creatures. What a beautiful post – really enjoyed it!

      1. Yes, when I am out in nature, the social and political issues I get upset about just go away. I love being in that calm energy of Nature. My body slows down to the natural frequency of the earth.

  40. If we don’t take this time, what is our point. I am finding ‘me’ and the meaning of life etc etc as I now am lucky enough to have the time. I savour, look forward and enjoy the moment…..of life itself and its truly breathtaking, rather like this article, thank you.

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