by this point in our northern winters, very few slender stems from last summer’s wildflowers are still standing. wind, or weight of snow, has usually laid them flat by now. these wild aster stems are an exception. in early winter they are hard to pick out from among all the other prairie stems. but in late february, they are among the few still upright. they must have an inner strength, a small but mighty ability to resist. i could have used that mightiness today when our return flight from NYC to MSP was cancelled due to mechanical problems and, with acid stomachs and crippling fatigue, we were asked to deplane after half an hour on the tarmac, in order to wait for a new aircraft to take us home. all i could think of was how much i wanted to be lying flat, under a thick blanket.
wild aster stems in winter
wabi sabi winter garden
if you have been following me for a while, you will not be surpised that i am big fan of the japanese aesthetic called wabi sabi. it is often oversimplified as “imperfect beauty”, while in practice it is a highly nuanced and refined set of principles. if you are new to wabi sabi, do yourself a favor and spend a few hours with a book by leonard koren called “wabi sabi for artists, designers, poets, and philosophers.” i promise you it will be time well spent.
wildflowers in winter
a suspicion of green
the french have an expression: “un soupçon de…” it translates as “a hint of…” but the literal translation is “a suspicion of ..”. the difference is minor, but i prefer the french version. i also prefer the STILL photos that have “un soupçon de couleur.” my bright saturated images may get more likes and shares than my more muted compositions. but my heart will always be with the suspicions.
bouquet of eucalyptus stems
start with why
have any of you read simon sinek’s best selling book start with why? he followed it up with a how-to book called find your why. they are both on my reading list. all the y-branching winter stems i have been seeing on my walks, set off so clearly by the blanket of white snow, keep reminding me that i’ve been meaning to read these books. apparently, sinek argues that one of the key practices for fulfillment is to keep asking yourself why?, over, and over, and over agin, until you get to the root of what motivates you. then, and only then, can you make decisions and take actions that align with your basic values. so, for example, i might start with “why do you do STILL?” because i wanted a daily creative practice. why do you want a daily creative practice? because i want to have a meaningful creative career in my retirement years. why do you want to be a creative in your retirement years? because i find the creative process more fulfilling than any other activity. why do you find creativity so fulfilling? because it is the closest i have ever come to deep play–that zen state of suspended time. etc. etc. etc. supposedly, this kind of questioning can lead to great insights and alignment of actions and values. i’m headed to nyc for four days. i think i will download the books for the plane trips and report back next week.
winter weed stem
white by kenya hara
i just finished reading the book WHITE by Kenya Hara. it is a meditative book on the concept of white. i bought it on a whim–because i liked the title and the cover. but i ended up feeling as though the author, a famous designer and professor in japan, wrote a beautiful 75 page essay on the essence of STILL blog. imagine my surprise! here is an excerpt from the book:
“The power of transformation is not something new; nature transforms itself continuously. It requires much energy and consistency to preserve beautiful things, so we must observe transforming nature closely, capturing its stillness while advocating its immutable and universal features…commitment is needed to preserve beauty through daily effort.”
he goes on to talk about waiting passionately for inspiring moments, being obsessed by the idea of freezing a unique image, and showing how the ordinary can be transformed into something unfamiliar and unknown. he refers to this process as “defamiliarization”. he said in 75 pages what i have been trying to say for these past five years.
winter knapweed in snow