Monthly Archives: May 2015

The passionate life.

I love photography. It is more than love, it is a passionate affair with cameras and taking pictures. You have to be passionate to get up at 05:00 am to take pictures, or going atop a mountain when it is very cold and your fingers are freezing. I find that my passion makes me more alive and points me in the direction of a more fulfilling life.

But I wonder, how many people live a life full of passion? Not many in my opinion as most are too busy making money. Of course one can be passionate about making money, but this is a passion that in the end can ruin you. It can ruin the most important things in life namely, your mind and your health. And once those are gone you can say goodbye to making money.

Of course money is important, but once you have enough then what? I find it foolish for people to spend their lives trying to make money and then say that they will indulge their passion when they retire. By that time of course they could be dead or be in so ill health that it won’t matter anymore if they had passions as they would not be able to live them. Time is a cruel master.

It is better not to crave money too much. Indulge your passions now, especially when you are young and not old and decrepit. Once your mind is gone you won’t remember that you had a passion for something anyways.

People with a passion will try to indulge in it over the weekends and holidays but this lacks permanence. It is rather like tasting a favourite dish only once a month. You are not satisfied and you crave to have more of it. In then end you could become quite frustrated with this whole affair of living your passions on off days. Why not make all of your days off days?

Yes, I know that bills must be paid. But it makes sense to simplify our lives and not needlessly work to pay bills that are not essential to our well-being.

Let us make a decision now; that we won’t work more than it is necessary and that we will devote most of our free time to the pursuit of our passions, and not the pursuit of a fat bank account. No one will care on your deathbed how much money you made and how much is in your account, apart from your heirs of course. On my death bed I want to remember all those days that I took pictures in sub-zero temperatures. It will warm my dying heart.

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The oldest skateboarder in the world.

I was taking the metro the other day when I saw an incredible sight; I saw the oldest skate-boarder in the world. As the door opened I saw him lying on the floor like a lanky 16 year old teenager with his backpack behind his head as a makeshift pillow and a National Geographic magazine on his chest. His eyes were closed as if he were sleeping.

Evidently he had chosen to lie there for when I arrived there were seats available. He had deliberately chosen not to sit in them, thus making a statement and signaling to people that he had chosen to lead a different sort of life.

He wore a gray shirt with the sleeves cut-off with a black short and brown shoes. Below his cap I could see his gray hair and in my opinion, he must have been well over 45 years old. The glasses he wore told me that he was not in his prime anymore. But of course he could have been wearing them all his life, who knows.

I looked at his muscles; they were the muscles of an active man who was accustomed to exercise. His legs were those of a runner or cyclist and not those of a flabby and sedentary 45 year old. His arms were well built but less so than his legs, indicating to me that he was not into lifting weights. His whole body cried out that here was an athlete, not only a weekend warrior.

His skateboard was on his right side lazily lying next to him and protecting him like a shield. I half expected to see Excalibur somewhere near him.

Not once did he look up to the passengers seated in front of him. He was totally oblivious to mankind, an independent man he was.

Finally we arrived at the end of the line. I stood up at the same time that he did and once again I looked at his well toned muscles. That he was in top shape was without a doubt. Maybe he was a man that had skateboarded all his life and had refused to give in to time and its ravages. Maybe he just did not bother looking back, endlessly comparing himself to his younger self, that self that did not exist anymore. He was a skateboarder, and that was all that mattered to him, whether he was 25 or 45. He probably had enjoyed his sport for a long time and had no intention of giving it up, even if time marched on.

Perhaps we too should be more like him. We too should not be so prompt to obey when the man in the mirror tells us that we are too old for this or that, and that perhaps we should take it easy. We should firmly say to that man in the mirror to take a hike, or better yet, to go on one. Literally. Perhaps then the adventurous spirit of our youth will re-awaken from its slumbering, just waiting for the master to return.

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The potholes of life.

During winter in Canada roads suffer enormously from the freezing and thawing of the ice. Holes in the road can then occur which can create a danger to cars but rarely to pedestrians, unless you happen to be staring at your phone and step in a hole which is ideally situated for that purpose.

I was waiting for the bus, an activity for which I am famous for and for which a not inconsiderate amount of time is wasted in my life. As I was waiting a most extraordinary vehicle arrived very slowly in the left lane; it was the size of a small truck with a bright yellow triangle at the back signifying that it backed up often. At first I thought it was simply cleaning the roads but as it had stopped in front of my stop I had enough time to examine it.

As it was Sunday morning there were virtually no cars in the early morning so I advanced in the middle of the road to take a closer look. Right where the truck had stopped was a hole the size of Manhattan, or so it seemed to me in the early morning. My eyes are not what they used to be. I carefully looked at what would happen next. Slowly from another appendage a slow stream of hot asphalt began to fill in the Manhattan size hole until it was filled. All this took about five or six seconds. Then another appendage that had a shovel-like implement simply flattened the now covered hole that was emitting some smoke. The whole thing took less than five minutes. Once this done the small truck continued on its merry way searching for holes in the road like a prostitute hunting for a John.

I admired how quickly and well done the job had been done and thought that it was a pity that we could not do the same in our own lives, filling in the potholes that we have. Some have money problems, while for others it would be relationship problems. Imagine if we could simply solve the problem by “filling” it in and then smoothing it over. Life would be so easy.

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Walking in the footsteps of others.

I am an avid photographer but I will admit that winter in the eastern part of North America is no picnic. The snow and the cold can be taxing and your perseverance and endurance is often tested, as well as your equipment of course.

Naturally when I am walking I always look if someone else has walked in the same area that I am walking. It is always easier to walk in the footsteps of another person as they make my walking far easier and of course I exert less energy. Even the animals of the wild will do the same thing. I often see foxes quickly running on paths made by men instead of wading through deep snow. But of course, if I walk in the same paths that others have opened for me I will probably see what they have seen and nothing more. One could also add that a sense of adventure would be missing in walking in the footsteps of others so at times I will eschew the easy path and will try to open a new path. I know that it will cost me more in time and energy but I always hope that in doing so I will be rewarded by seeing something that others have not seen. Often just this act of opening a different path leads me to new discoveries, as for example discovering birds called cedar waxwings eating berries perched in a tree. Had I stuck to the usual path I would not have seen them, a missed opportunity.
In our lives, we often do this, picking the easy road and letting others dictate our path. At times we are simply too lazy.

Perhaps we should be more adventurous and pick our own paths. We might have to exert ourselves more but at least it would be more interesting and of course, it will be our paths and not the paths of others. We would be following our own genius and no one else.

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The fall of (a) man.

A funny thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago, something that reminded me that we are all subject to the laws of gravity even if we blithely forget. They sometimes have a way of reminding us that they exist and that we must pay attention to them.

I was walking in my favourite park as the skies were blue and the temperature that day was mild. I like to take pictures so I had my monopod and my camera with me. I was proceeding slowly across a frozen pond, using a small bridge that unites one pond to another. Once safely across I would have been able to continue my walk on the other side. Unfortunately it was very sunny and this made the snow on this small cement bridge highly reflective. No, I did not have tinted glasses as I look foolish enough without them but with them I would probably draw fits of laughter from passers-by. Enough said. I am simply not the epitome of cool.

So here I am, with my camera in my right hand and my camera bag safely on my back. I must have looked down at my feet and thought that it was a no-brainer for me. Two quick steps and I was to be on the other side. Unfortunately that is not what happened as when I put my right foot on this snow bridge I fell down and saw the snow bridge rise precipitously towards my lovely face. Now I know what a tree feels when it is chopped down and it slams into the ground. Not much fun.

At first I remained in this position; I was eagle spread on the bridge, with my left arm out over the edge and my right hand still holding the camera with my face inches out of the snow. I felt like a bug that had been squashed on the windshield of a car. Not a pretty sight. Needless to say that I was in shock. How could this have happened I wondered ? I also felt scared, more for my camera than for my pretty face. The first thing I did was to slowly rise and check the camera and the lens that was on it. Everything looked fine and I was so relieved at that. I then noticed that my right leg had scraped the cement bridge and that despite the snow I had hurt myself, but not severely. Nothing was broken except of course, my pride. As I had risen I had looked around to see if anyone had seen the fall but luckily no one had. We all do that; we fall and then look around to see if people are snickering at us. Happily I was alone on that day.

I gingerly got up and began moving again over the snow bridge but very slowly, giving it as much respect as a boxer who has been knocked-out by another boxer. I was not going down for the count again, no sir.
I knew that my right shin had been injured as I felt a throbbing there but I continued my walk on the other side and even walked for another hour afterwards. It is only when I arrived home that I inspected the damage. It looked bad as there was a red gash of about two inches long right across my shin and it was very red with blood but luckily it was only a good scraping and nothing was opened. I knew that I had been lucky. Just a good cleaning was necessary and that was all but for at least a week I felt some pain in that area.

The lesson was clear to me. The last time I fell must have been several years ago on my icy stairs. This was a remainder from the gods of Winter to not only look up, but down as well. The laws of gravity will apply even to those who forget them, as I had.

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