Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Observation

Some thoughts on the hopefulness and frailty of attachment.

Winter Beach Walk
White Rock, British Columbia

Steady rain beats rhythm to
My footsteps, brief dark marks
On graveled beach;
Low clouds with seeming purpose
Roll across an empty sky.

I chance upon a boulder, rounded, old
And smooth, an accidental presence
Marking time in different terms.

On its side, a childish script says:
Paul and Marie, forever, etched inside
A rough-hewn heart.

Wind seems to gust up colder here,
Preying on this fragile wish,
This blindly hopeful talisman
Against time and pain and loss.

I must walk on, reluctantly,
But there are echoes in the wind
Of this shining proclamation
On an ancient stone.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Simple Talk for Complicated Times

From time to time I will print excerpts from a piece of work I call Simple Talk for Complicated Times. Don't you  feel that life is too complicated? Yet we can't simplify things too much. Einstein advised that we should try to make things as simple as possible, but no simpler. These excerpts are reflections on that advice. Hope you enjoy them.

The Lesson of the River

          A broad, deep river seems able to solve the paradox of simultaneous stillness and motion. The surface of the water is still, calm, seemingly unmoving. Yet the current of the river pulses under this stillness, moving the water according to gravity, towards the sea. Does the river show us that we can get around the paradox? No, the river is always moving. Although the surface seems still to our casual glance, a closer look will reveal small sticks, and other flotsam moving with the current. At times, parts of the river move more swiftly; eddies swirl, deeper sections seem still – but the water always moves. It can do nothing else.

What lesson does this present to us? The notion of stillness, emotional and intellectual calm in the midst of the constant movement around us, is an ideal -  never to be achieved, yet always yearned for. The paradox remains. Buddhist thought introduces the concept of Nirvana as the  achievement of this stillness; it can be achieved only at the moment of departure from the material world.

What we can do is to develop our awareness of how our energy in motion  relates to the energy in motion of others and of the material world around us. If we become more aware of our motion relative to the external world, we have the opportunity to adjust so that we are aligned in harmonious ways with what flows  around us.

Awareness leads to understanding, then compassion, then acceptance. This is the path to harmony and peace. It is difficult, but achievable.

Although the paradox of stillness and movement remains, we can teach ourselves to come as close as we can to the ideal, as close as we  can in the material world to which we are chained and bound.

Friday, December 10, 2010


This is my first attempt at blogging. It is odd to write what is essentially a note to myself, then send it out to whomever in the world happens to stumble on to the site.

I hope you enjoy the photo website and find something in my photos that speaks to you in some way. The name Lucky Shot is intentional - I make no claim to technical brilliance and often a photo works because it is just a lucky shot.

You will have read on the site how and why Lucky Shot got started. Over the next while, I will add details to the story of Brayden. He was an exceptional young man in so many ways. I know that I will spend the rest of my life reflecting on  the ways that his life affected mine. I will try to persuade Leslie, my wife, to collaborate with me on this. We have some opinions and observations on parenting that you may find challenging and thought provoking. I am what I term a "recovering teacher" as well and have some strong views on the state of education that I hope will provoke your thinking. So check in once in a while to see if we come up with anything worth reading!

You may be interested in how I was persuaded to start to sell photos. After Brayden died in the spring of 2005, I bought a small digital camera and started to take pictures. That led to a better SLR camera and more pictures. A few people commented that I had an eye for composition. My two younger boys encouraged me to sell them. I was sceptical about the whole thing, but decided, what the heck, I will try it. Surprisingly to me the photos started to sell. My wife and I decided to continue, and give the money to charities that related to Brayden. In the past three years we have donated several thousand dollars to Women's Foundation and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Society.

The idea for a website came up and, thanks to Misty Impressions, is now a reality.

As I said, we will see where this leads. At the very least, it keeps Brayden's memory alive for us. When I open the site and look at his photo, I feel a combination of intense sadness and gratitude for having had him in our lives. Some days the sadness wins out. On other days, though, I realize that I have been given the opportunity to try to understand, not just intellectually, but imaginatively and emotionally something about what gives life meaning and makes life meaningless. Over the next while, I will try to share my thoughts and feelings about these things.

Until next time.