the force of nature

This week’s photo challenge is Forces of Nature.

Hurricanes! Snowstorms! Lightning! Me, sneezing! Richard Simmons!

There are so many directions one could go, but I’ll choose to go this way (all of the photos in this post were taken at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Kenwood, CA):

the force of fog

I have a soft spot in my heart for fog. I grew up in it. Coastal fog, that is. It’s not as thick and terrifying as CA’s Central Valley Tule fog.

Coastal fog is wistful, gentle, mysterious, and romantic. The kind that Mr. Darcy walks through to get to you – if you’re into that kind of thing, which I’m totally not. If he tried walking through Tule fog, you’d never see him again because it would eat him alive and spit out his bones, spelling out the words “Darcy Sucks” just to get inside your head.

I currently live about an hour from the coast, but that lovely fog finds its way in, rolls around and then generally burns off several hours later. Recently, I went for a hike and the morning started out pretty foggy (see above). Then…

morning dew

Something weird happens when I go hiking. I don’t know when to stop and turn back. I started to climb higher and higher, my badonkadonk getting grumpier and grumpier. But I couldn’t stop. It was the force, ya know? I had to keep going. I had to get there, wherever there was.

Turns out this is where there was:

above the fog

The force of nature, y’all.

Listen to its call.

tree line

Keep close to nature’s heart…
and break clear away,
once in awhile,
and climb a mountain or
spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean.
~ John Muir

it’s an ephemeral life

into the fog

“When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You’re able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open.”

~ Pema Chödrön

When I discovered that Friday’s WordPress photo challenge was the word ephemeral, I knew I wanted to post some cool photos I took one foggy day. Then I started to think about fleeting moments. Then impermanence. Which led to the pondering of Buddhist concepts. And finally, my head burst into flames.

(My head is always doing strange and unpredictable things, like the time it fell off and rolled around on the ground. Well, I don’t need my head to write this post. Truth be told, I was barely using it for my previous posts anyways.)

I don’t consider myself a Buddhist. I believe and don’t believe in a lot of things. I simply decide what feels right and then try to apply it to my life. Intellectually, I get the ideas within Buddhism, but they can be difficult to practice for someone who likes permanence. When Joy enters the room, I want her to stay awhile. I ply her with wine and chocolate and the gyoza she likes from Trader Joe’s. But she always has somewhere else to be. She has a very busy schedule, that Joy.

i heart fog

Enter, Gratitude.

Photography is a wonderful way to practice gratitude. If you’re like me (oh, lucky you! the sweet realization!), you capture these moments in time and then – everything changes. You feel gratitude because what you saw and experienced will likely never happen the same way again. And if you’re like me (oh, dear. poor you.), you get secretly giddy over the fact that while you were living in the moment, you captured it and made it permanent. Take that, Buddhism!

In case you’re wondering, Buddhism can take this kind of ironic taunting.

Joy, pain, gratitude, disappointment…they flow in and out, in constant motion, and sometimes they are tangled up together. I suppose that’s what happens when you stay open – you allow more of everything to enter. It definitely helps to keep your sense of humor and perspective intact. So that’s why I’m going to end with the photo below, because photography also causes you to notice things in a different way, which is, like, totally awesome, Dude.

If you’re like me – twisted, easy (…careful…), head falling off all of the time but knowing how to play it off, and willing to laugh at yourself, then…Joy!! I proclaim that we can be friends!! Because honestly, this has all been a test of our potential friendship. Okay, okay…here’s the photo:

when trees photobomb each other

when trees photobomb each other