Tag Archives: nature

Life Without Fear

I wonder how many people in our culture, or any culture for that matter, really understand this teaching:

Girl in Yoga Position

Found on Pinterest, originally from Amy Jirsa – Quiet Earth Yoga

I know it may be very hard to comprehend the truth of this, especially in the part of the world I live in . . . this way of thinking is not widely taught. Certainly the main stream media, and many other institutions, do not want you or I to think this way – it flies in the face of greed when you think about. It’s also bad for a lot of business.

Put as simply as I can, this is why I like watching butterflies and trees and the wind and the clouds. There is this truth there, life without fear. That is part of what inspires me. Enjoy your Monday.

Houston, I have a problem for you…

well-timed2c

Standing on the Equator, compared to on the North Pole

About eight years ago I spent some time thinking about things, stuff like the earth moving around the sun. Don’t ask why, but it soon occurred to me that the earth could just as easily spin on its axis in a more or less fixed position, like a spinning top. Assuming that the sun is in a relatively fixed position, then this spinning top made as much sense as an annual ellipse around the sun. Oddly, it is simpler I suppose . . . less work?

Then there’s the other question, “Does the earth rotate at all?” I think about this stuff while I wonder about that other stuff . . . gravity. It struck me how remarkable it is that while a person stands in one place on the equator, they are moving at 1,670 km per hour. At the same time, someone standing on the exact north pole would basically be moving at .85 meters in a 24-hour day. That would be someone like me, with a shoe that measures 27 cm in length, so by standing there, the back of my shoes would move in one circular rotation in 24 hours, or about 0.85 meters, or about 3.39 centimeters per hour.

What’s really amazing, and curious, is how both people, and at the same time, would have the perception of standing still. I still wonder whether there is some kind of subtle perceptual difference between the two locations, even though I know that I’ll never really know the answer.

Standing in the airport, Winnipeg compared to Vancouver

For whatever reason, none that I know of, something odd occurred to me last night, so I did a little research this morning. This concerns flight times, flight patterns and such. For convenience I chose two cities to study. One is my hometown of Winnipeg and the other is Vancouver, B.C. – if you were to look at a map of Canada, you would see that both are basically very close to the 49th parallel.

There is a two-hour time difference between the two cities; Vancouver is two hours earlier than Winnipeg. Today the sun rose at 5:12 in Vancouver and will set at 9:09 tonight. In Winnipeg the sun rose at 5:28 and will set at 9:28 tonight. The difference in sunlight between the two cities is 3 minutes out of 1,440 minutes in a day.

I can get from B to A, but how do I ever get from A to B?

The distance between Winnipeg and Vancouver is about 1,865 kilometers, by air. Winnipeg’s location must be kind of “in the same spot” during its sunrise, the same spot as Vancouver at its sunrise. Put another way, if earth is rotating, then Winnipeg must “travel” 1,865 kilometers in 2 hours and 16 minutes, or moving at a speed of about 823 km/ hour.

So how do the airplane flights come in to play? First of all, apparently the flight pattern is basically right along the arc of the 49th parallel, so it’s very much a direct flight. Since the plane is following such a direct path, and if the earth is rotating at a speed of 823 km an hour between the two cities, shouldn’t it be a lot quicker to get to Vancouver from Winnipeg than getting to Winnipeg from Vancouver?

Apparently the planes fly at 500 km/ hour in both directions, and the flight times are 2 hours and 55 minutes between the two cities, regardless of the departing city. So what am I missing? I mean, if you’re miles up in the air, travelling at 500 km/ hour, and below you, your destination is travelling in the same direction as you, but at 823 km/ hr, how do you ever get there, never mind getting there in just under 3 hours? I really have no problem being wrong about something here, so if I’m missing something simple, silly me . . . and if so, what is it?

http://www.airmilescalculator.com/distance/yvr-to-ywg/

One verb or two?

This is a work in progress, using some candle wax and pieces of a wick in lieu of charcoal.

This is a work in progress, using some candle wax and pieces of a wick in lieu of charcoal.

For many months now my art process has taken a back-burner to the writing process. Why do I use the word process? It’s because the most precious aspect of it for the artist, this artist, is in the joy of creating . . . when something is finished there is a kind of sadness, I suppose mainly because the process is finished.

Many times I’ve found myself moving on to another picture, and right away, simply as a reaction to this sadness. It’s not a deep depression or anything like that, but merely a recognition of a need to move on – it’s a very natural feeling.

Why do I even raise the issue?

While the process is very much a pleasant imaginary journey, often times the discussions about the finished work becomes a bit of nightmare. For lack of a better term, it often gets bogged down in dogma, such as, “What kind of art is that? What is the intent? Is it fine art?” For me the biggest issue surrounds the use of technology . . . as if the use of software negates the “validity” of the final piece, and for that matter, the process. Sadly, there are many who think the machine does everything, while the truth is that it does very little, at least in my experience.

It’s strange how the focus on the piece can get so negative, so divisive, but thankfully nothing can take away from the experience of the process. I’m very tempted to respond to that technical issue here, but I won’t, because no matter how I put it, any comment will only add to the controversy.

The Bigger Picture

I’ve noticed that this kind of controversy seems to be in so many fields. For example, I can experience the same kind of exasperation in a discussion with physicists, especially about issues such as the big bang theory, the nature of the universe, and the center of the universe.

Many people get upset because of my views come from a different way of knowing, such as by simple observation and perhaps a little logic? I don’t why it’s important, or if important is the right word, but it seems it’s easy to learn things this way, more so when there is simply no intent. This issue of intent, or lack of it, is what I refer to as important.

A Very Kind Way of Learning

One of my favorite learning experiences comes from spending time with a candle now and then, gazing into the flame and watching pieces of the wick kind of swimming in the melted wax around the flame. I mention this because I’ve learned so much this way. After watching the dance within the flame, a wonderful dance, one night it hit me . . . there is no center. It is completely impossible to find the center of any given flame on any given candle.

As this is true, then it follows that if you cannot find the center of a flame, how can you ever hope to find the center of the universe? For me there is great beauty in this truth, as in my experience in the process of art. Unfortunately, the discussions that follow aren’t so wonderful, especially with those consumed with quantifiable measurement . . . sometimes logic and a little imagination should be enough . . . some say art is an expression of life without numbers.

That’s also how I see nature – an expression of life without numbers.

Truth moves around . . . thankfully!

Other People’s Stuff

A picture of a twig

This is another unfinished piece…it’s based on a variation of a leaf.

Normally I don’t comment on other people’s blogs, nor do I publish a list of favorites, who I follow and so on. That’s totally because I’m worried about leaving someone out by omission. Some days its tempting to single out those who can really strike a nerve, but I’d rather focus on the positives . . . so hopefully I won’t “make the wrong mistake” as Yogi Berra said.

I’m really just getting the hang of Pinterest. I spend most of my time related to that site looking for original pins, as opposed to simply repinning. However, there are a small number of pinners that I’m following, and some or all of them also have blogs. I’m not going to comment on the blogs here, just the Pinterest boards.

If you haven’t spent much time there – or if you think it’s somehow less than blogging – I think you might re-think that if you visit Julie Green’s page. It is fascinating to explore, an intellectual and visual treat . . . the kind where you stop watching the time, so be careful!

Here’s the link, and I hope you check it out for yourself: Julie Green on Pinterest

I’m learning how busy the world of Twitter is, though it has been all pleasant surprises, kind of “rapid-fire” so it’s hard to keep up. I still have much to learn over there, but aside from that, there are some people over there. One guy, @PhilTorcivia , is amazing because of his constant and pretty consistent stream of humorous one-liners. For example, “I told my girlfriend she’d drawn her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised.” I’m not surprised that he has over 64,000 followers.

For all the authors out there, I also came across some named Jane Friedman, but I can’t remember how I came upon her first – Twitter, blog, Pinterest or somewhere else. What I do know is that wherever I come across her, I learn something new and important when it comes to writing and publishing. If you’re looking for book reviews, that’s not what she does, but for tons of great information, resources, and opportunities, I suggest starting with her home page: Jane Friedman’s Home Page

There are many other kudos I’d like to send out, and will over time. There are some bloggers that have made an extra impression lately, including Jackie Jones, especially for her wonderfully honest and great photographs of the Caribbean on her blog. She keeps apologizing for this and that photography, but I’d never have noticed without her mentioning them – they’re imperfections make them all the more intriguing and endearing: Jackie Jones’ Caribbean Photos – the little stories add to the charm.

Finally, thank to Jill Paterson for your tips on writing that all-important blurb, as well for being a friend on Goodreads: Jill Paterson’s Blog

On the Lighter Side

Since my artistic medium is really light, I suppose if I introduce a new picture then it’s fair to say that “it’s on the lighter side”! So the picture I’ve thrown on here today turned out quite nice, but for me this is more of a doodle – I tend to call them that when they only take an hour or two, instead of 50 or a hundred or more – hope you like it.

leaves_27d

As all my art is done on a screen, it is all done in a process of light moved around on that screen – eventually that is translated into ink on paper or canvas.

When you think about it, all artists are involved in a form of communication in one way or another – a form that involves light. Caravaggio is perhaps know for “his use of light” . . . though it is difficult to say whether this is actually “his” light!

It seems he was a colorful character . . .

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/michelangelo-merisi-da-caravaggio

Sunshine on My Mind

WP_Light

Lately a little sunshine has come up in discussions with some really bright people.

Over the last number of years I’ve enjoyed times of solitude where I just reflect on life, mostly the non-human varieties. In the last year or so, since immersing myself in social media, every now and then I get involved in online discussions that relate to this issue of the sun. Sometimes this includes discussions with various scientists.

To be sure, I’m an artist at heart, though I’m also well trained in scientific methodology, statistics and so on, but I don’t pretend to be an ‘expert’ in any of it, don’t need to be. Recently a discussion came up from a scientist who has a blog about the role of artists in kind of “feeding” science. The person actually works in this field, some kind of institute that seeks to combine the two endeavors.

On one hand I can appreciate this, but on the other hand, there is an arrogance behind it that is hard to stomach. It’s the arrogance that all life has a scientific basis. This belief seems to be ingrained in so many people at an alarming rate over the last few decades. As a belief it is very much like a religion. Perhaps not so surprising is the negative reaction that such people have when you point this out, and yet it is so very true.

Many artists tend to look at life differently, to observe and come to know certain things without measurements. Scientists seem to think of this as what, romantic? Dreamy? Idealistic? Whatever term is used, the common one would be “inferior”, at least in terms of comparison to the observing through the use of science. At the unavoidable risk of sounding confrontational, I see it as quite the opposite.

So what does this have to do with the sun?

We’ve all been taught that the sun is very far away, but that’s not really true is it? When you think of its light continually blending in with the planet we live on, and how life here couldn’t exist without it, then you can easily appreciate how inseparable we are from the sun…it’s not just ‘out there’, it’s right here.

Think of the stream of light as an indivisible umbilical chord.

As I mentioned in a previous post, time and gravity are inseparable aspects of life on earth. Now when you combine this with the indivisible aspect of the sun, then you can understand that the earth as a mass, with its time and gravity, are indivisibly connected to the sun.

The problem in physics then is the equation ‘energy = mass x the speed of light squared). This equation involves mass (earth), the sun, and time. It’s not really a valid equation once you accept this indivisibility as I’ve described it.

The reason for that can be shown in a simple question, “How you can multiply something when you can’t really divide it?”

I don’t know what all this means, I just know that I need to say it.

The picture at the top is another one of my unfinished works; it began as a photograph of the door know and keyhole of my storage shed. The link below is on the lighter side, and is a great presentation on the creative thinking process. What I really like about it is that it presented by someone like myself in terms of starting out as someone trained in science.

John Cleese on Creativity

And finally, here is such a wonderful example who in her own way seems to “get it” in terms of light.

Madonna – Ray of Light

How Can They Be Free?

WP_Freedom

When I was a kid, over 40 years ago now, I think I was in grade 7 at the time, Friday night was kind of special. How this became special I cannot remember, nor can I remember how I ever came to be involved in this activity. It seems what was special about this activity was the score, and the coinciding peer pressure. Getting one down the center was the ultimate goal and doing so frequently was some kind of achievement.

I’m not talking about bowling here; that was reserved for Saturday mornings. This was a school-related activity, or at least it happened underground, beneath this one-story elementary school, the one where I spent grade 5. The oddity of this didn’t even hit home until just this very day. You see I was always told that this underground facility was built during the wartime for training purposes. It was a shooting range. There were perhaps 10 or so alleys, the targets seemed much further away than the pins at the bowling alley, and the circles on the paper seemed so very small…and I had great eyesight.

My friends and I thought this was pretty cool. None of us owned the 22-caliber rifles; they stayed with the bunker and we just bought our weekly supply of bullets. There was no time pressure or anything, just the pressure to score highly on a weekly total of 100, kind of like a percentage. So at the end of evening the boys and I would compare our sheets and I was never much better than average, so it wasn’t so much fun. On the other hand, no one beat me at bowling, which was so much more fun.

It seems this was a winter activity and only lasted a few months. When it was over one or two of my friends were awarded pellet guns by their parents. It was springtime by then. In no time at all there must have been about half a dozen of us with these guns. Mine was one of the cheapest as my parents probably had less money than all of the others, so I was kind of envious of some of the others’ units. This too was a competition. Pellets were pretty cheap and the river was very close.

The implication of that was that there was no problem exploring our favorite paths along the river, surrounded by plenty of ample bush and trees, only now we had arms. We usually wondered in pairs, perhaps three if there was an odd number. For practice we would shoot at tin cans and so the competition continued, though it didn’t stay at cans for long. You see there were birds to shoot, and the prowess became the hit rate on sparrows and robins, shot for no other reason.

Thankfully I was not very good at this activity, and regretfully I never thought much of what I was doing. I don’t remember this hobby lasting more than one summer. Neither do I remember when everyone else stopped. However, I do remember as clearly as this evening’s supper how I came to cease and desist. It happened on a very fine day and I was standing on the river bank right next to a big bend in the river. For whatever reason I was all alone. I had my pellet in my gun in case a bird should come along.

Sure enough while looking around this bend I spotted one flying, more like gliding along the path of the water. It wasn’t a sparrow or a robin though. It was a bird like none that I’d seen before, more like a great blue heron. By the time I noticed the beauty of this magnificent bird I already had my gun raised to shoot. And then it happened. I saw this bird for what it was, but more than that it spoke to me in that wonderful silence, as if to say to me in a very gentle voice, “Why do you want to hurt me?” And as I sensed this my arms fell to the side. The question remained unanswered and I’ve never shot a gun of any kind since.

I’ve seldom had such a moment of clarity, and such a calm and peaceful one at that.

So fast forward 30-some years and you will find me in a very confused state. It is in the fall and like so many people, I am immersed in a battle without even knowing it. The tragedy of 9/11 is still very fresh and there is this talk of taking action, a part of the battle of the hearts and minds. My children are with me at this time, they are around 10 and 11 years old and I am driving them to school one day. I don’t know how it came up, but there must have been a question that arose on this issue of war. I hadn’t been able to make any sense of the news, couldn’t understand any of the arguments, but I did mutter something about the need to protect freedom.

Well the discussion pretty much ended in one of those other moments of clarity. It happened very spontaneously in the form of a question that kind of answers itself. So in response to my comment on freedom, one of my children said something that will stick with me as long as I can think. She said, “But daddy how they be free? They carry guns.”

Today when I see the birds there is freedom I see and a togetherness that is so truly inspiring and of course I am a dreamer and I wonder if we will ever be that together. It seems all I can do is hope.

PS – The picture at the top is yet another unpublished work of mine, still in progress, but almost finished.