I miss writing. So I promise to do it soon. And more frequently. Photography, it seems, has seized all of my attention the past few months and I can’t seem to unlock my gaze at the world; this life I constantly crave to document one snap at a time because it’s the fastest way to express my love and gratitude. Love for a life peppered with extraordinary moments. Gratitude for each and every breath and step I take. I am extremely blessed and photography has allowed me to say thank you often and quickly.
But I know I can do both. Write and shoot and continue to tell my truth bit by bit. So, that’s the plan. 🙂
In the meantime, here are some recent snaps of my looking/passing/peering/gazing through something. Tell me what you see…thanks for passing by.
by Mary Oliver
Understand, I am always trying to figure out what the soul is, and where hidden, and what shape –
and so, last week, when I found on the beach the ear bone of a pilot whale that may have died
hundreds of years ago, I thought maybe I was close to discovering something – for the ear bone
is the portion that lasts longest in any of us, man or whale; shaped like a squat spoon with a pink scoop where
once, in the lively swimmer’s head, it joined its two sisters in the house of hearing, it was only
two inches long – and thought: the soul might be like this – so hard, so necessary
yet almost nothing. Beside me the gray sea was opening and shutting its wave-doors,
unfolding over and over its time-ridiculing roar; I looked but I couldn’t see anything through its dark-knit glare;
yet don’t we all know, the golden sand is there at the bottom, though our eyes have never seen it, nor can our hands ever catch it
lest we would sift it down into fractions, and facts – certainties – and what the soul is, also
I believe I will never quite know. Though I play at the edges of knowing, truly I know our part is not knowing,
but looking, and touching, and loving, which is the way I walked on, softly, through the pale-pink morning light.
(from Why I Wake Early, 2004)
Photos taken by my Nikon D90 or my iPhone4. Snaps taken in Tagaytay and Batangas.
grateful slice: appreciating the obvious and seeing what’s beyond
So it turns out the ber months of 2011 kicked my ass.
I didn’t know it too, until the other day, that I had been beaten to a pulp. That I was minced meat. Pulverized by many things all happening at once. By the time I realized it though, I was already lying in a coma, attached to a breathing machine. It took me awhile to figure it out too that I had been running on fumes for weeks. I mean, I knew things were off and considering everything that has happened the past few months, you’d be off too. Between a series of unfortunate events happening to people and a place I care about to the pressure of what needed to be done to secure the next steps for my future, AND THEN being able to secure it…it was cognitive dissonance. Also, I guess feeling like I SHOULD be extremely happy (about the latter) versus not feel joy inside (because of the former) made me feel guilty and that aggravated the internal situation. I chalked it up to separation anxiety and exhaustion and moved like an energizer bunny on crack to take care of everyone else but myself. It must have been some time between October and November when I switched to survival mode. Once December arrived, my spirit has been non-stop sending me red flags, morse code, smoke signals that I was not all right but I didn’t prioritize paying close attention to anything internal. Which brings us here.
Looking back now, I should have known. I’ve been down this road before. Depression is an old codependent familiar and my psyche’s M.O. is predictable. First, my attitude deteriorates. I get snappish, negative and not fun to be around. Then there’s this deep, inconsolable melancholy, and lack of gratitude and inner peace. I don’t think about the things I say to people. I forget the why of everything that is worth it to me. I become lethargic, apathetic, demanding, paranoid and insecure. I forget what makes me happy. Reject exercise and eat a lot of dumb food. Then I melt into my couch and disappear into the lives of doctors, dysfunctional room mates, talented outcasts, overdressed teens in the upper East side, wannabe models, reality TV characters on the D-list, promising designers and top chefs. This deepens my guilt and speeds up the spiraling. Eventually, my body gives. In this case, it collapsed into a 38.9 degree fever on Christmas day. It left me flat for 48 hours and finally, it was this inability to stay awake between crappy sitcom series that convinced me that my heart was waving the white flag.
Sigh. At least now I know.
Anyway, it is amazing what being sick for two days, writing, girlfriend-wisdom, self-knowledge and surrender can do for someone with a broken spirit. After a late night skype conversation with S (where she laughed at my melodrama) and a long lunch with Gng. C, I finally allowed myself to unravel and articulate what I have been feeling for weeks. I finally got pen and paper and started putting all my icky emotions to words. It was tough to say everything aloud to a friend and to myself; more painful to see it on paper but once I plucked it out of my system, I pulled the plug and started breathing on my own again. Also, not being able to blog about so many things has been torture. I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. Just too many delicate things to publicly talk about and the lack of readiness on my part, to share something so wonderful and important left me silent. But maybe Ani di Franco had the bigger clue. Silence is violence sometimes.
And so it goes.
Knowledge is power and timing is everything. Ironically, once I realized and admitted that I was not okay, that’s when I started to feel okay. Metanoia. Suddenly yesterday, after weeks of feeling like I was slogging through debris and flashflood mud, and where genuine laughter and smiles were few and far between, I found myself and my joy again. Simple things like seeing my best friends from abroad for lunch would bring tears to my eyes. The breath in yoga class quickly filled me with gratitude and bliss. The view of the sky and the clouds and the majesty of the urban landscape had the ability to once again leave me speechless and overjoyed. Language and photography and music and the thought of my future in a new place filled me with love, hope, compassion, passion and creativity. I am so happy to say that the emptiness is gone and in its place, love, all around. Ah, I knew I was back when I fell in love with yesterday’s simplicity. And why? Because I understand now. Because I finally have the words for what I have been feeling. Because I finally know what the hell is going on inside me. And that’s the best way to end a roller coaster year, isn’t it? To get your voice and your wits back. To claim this season of sadness and exhaustion, to embrace the essence of its impermanence, and just surrender. Because hello, the future is so damn bright, I have to wear shades!
I have forgiven the ber months for knocking the wind out of me and have forgiven myself for letting it happen. By doing that I have my peace and grateful heart back. Yay!
Thanks, G. For everything. Here’s to 2012. I welcome it wholeheartedly and excitedly.
by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
grateful slice: clarity and recovery