When this picture was taken, I could see there was a sense of loneliness and misfortune about the scene. The fact that this little piece of nature found itself on man-made ground and not soil, brought up a few thoughts that warranted a blog post.
Firstly, it made me think of how we sometimes find ourselves in environments not meant for us. The branch is organic, standing on inorganic material. There’s no connection except that which proximity has allowed, and there’s (at least at first glance) no purpose that could ever justify this unlikely encounter. The branch will never become a part of the solid ground when it dies, and neither will the concrete ever supply the branch with nutrients to live and grow.
The branch here has found itself in a place that will never change after its gone; a place that will only allow temporary memories to last until they are literally swept away. It’s completely incompatible with its current environment in a way that’s irreconcilable.
This reality makes it a true standalone, able to operate outside of a network or system. The tragedy however, is that it can only be this way for so long, and then it dies. A branch can’t live disconnected from its natural source for long.
The second part, the misfortune, is that this little branch didn’t decide to fall here. Factors around it were at play in ways that were not predictable, and resulted in this situation. Wind, site of the tree, and even the human decision to build in that place, all played a part in making this happen. Nobody can say “why”, we just know ” that’s how it happened.
We find ourselves in these situations sometimes: being in a place that somehow, whether immediately or eventually, we know we don’t belong. It’s strange and new, but worst of all, at some point it seems futile. We can’t understand why we’re there…but we’re there.
Most times though, it starts off feeling like something’s happening, like there’s rhyme and reason. Then suddenly you look around you and realise you’re surrounded by concrete, and you’re a branch.
You make the best of it for a while. Maybe even a long while. That’s the part where you decide “while I’m here, I will at least make the most of it”. It’s how you discover your resilience, your inner strength, whether you have enough “fight” left in you to survive.
It won’t kill you per se, but a part of you will always stay on that concrete floor. Something will die. Hopefully it’s just the part of you that needed to change that dies. It could be painful and damaging or painful and building…but something will die on this concrete floor.
All nature dies eventually, but this branch will die alone.
But before it dies, it will Stand…
[Camera: Fujifilm Finepix SL310
Edits: Increased vibrancy of the branch, leaving rest of photo unchanged]
There are some facts in life that may leave us feeling heavy, like the fact that we are all going to age. Some will age better than others. Some will have serious wrinkles, others will become very slow, some will end up experiencing both. However age, and its effect on us, is only a problem because we look at it from the perspective of where we currently are.
If you think of being 70yrs old, when you’re now 20yrs old, you’ll have a mini-heart-attack and curse your parents for their genes that could age you “badly”. However, a 55yr old will see it quite differently, and again, that difference is further exacerbated by our own unique views on our external world.
Recently though, as a 28yr young person, my views on old age have started to change (finally!), and I’m very glad they have. I took the above picture a few weeks ago (added a “lomo effect” to it) and seeing this flower all dried out was quite fascinating. What got me is just that…it got me! It caught my attention. It made me look for my camera. I then climbed a wall. I balanced myself for 5 minutes. I took the shot. I climbed down. I got onto my laptop. I opened Photoshop. Tried out the effect. Then had an idea just today about it. And realised that even as wrinkled and dried up as it was, it was still beautiful! So much so, that it redirected a whole hour of my day (getting down from the wall made me see how us men just do crazy things when they encounter beauty!)
Different seasons of our lives bring about different expressions. Beauty at 30, is not the same at 50, but it’s still beauty! Some of my characteristics now may change in expression, but not at their core. I realised, beauty has to be appreciated and acknowledged at every stage of life, otherwise we start to really become ugly!
So beauty is still beauty, even when it is Withered.
Standing there on stage as I took this picture, I was shaking from nerves and low temperature. My presence was a last-minute thing, so I needed to prepare quickly about 25 songs for this evening. Hundreds of people came to the field that night as my church was hosting a weekend-long outreach, with a medical outreach the next day. Setup was fast, sound-check even faster, but somehow the people weren’t stressed like we were on that stage.
The reason? Simply this: it was ALL FOR THEM!
Just as this little guy is cleverly hidden in his shell, we have our own places of retreat. They may be physical, or mental, or a way we portray ourselves. I just wonder though, how many of us use these places as nature does? For such creatures, a shell is a place of protection, and sometimes even growth. It serves a function with an agenda that is positive.
Some of us though, use our shells in ways that don’t help us. Deceiving people, making excuses, running from responsibility, becoming what we shouldn’t…the list could go on. Unfortunately, the people around us are the victims of our abuse. If only we’d retreat for the sake of tending to the things we need to in private, or grooming ourselves for more than what we have. Then we would truly be in line with the intended purposes of a shell…
…otherwise, we’re just SHELL SHACKED.
Very often we miss out on what’s happening around us, especially above us. I’ve seen some of the most spectacular visuals in the sky. Clouds in strange formations, light peering through, skies providing, deep and light palettes of colour. It all just screams of something far bigger than anything I have control over. My head can wrap itself around some pretty cool stuff, but not why such images have the effect they do on people.
We all know about the water cycle, and the role clouds have to play in it. Scientifically, we can explain the workings of the skies and even predict the movement of weather systems based on patterns and calculations. To some extent, the sky has become slightly predictable. Yet, it being predictable, is not a substitute for it being controllable, because it isn’t. The sky has its own way weather we like it or not. And I used “weather” on purpose! Due to this fact, we’re subject to trying to discover its ways, and learn to prepare our lives accordingly. Are you going to wear a jacket, or a hat? Take an umbrella with you to work? Or how about these responses: Will it be ‘gloomy’? Is this ‘cuddle-up’ time’? Can you go and play your favourite outdoor sport?
Even with all our understanding of it, we’re still subject to it. You can go against it, and suffer the consequences. Better yet you can resist so much that you become accustomed to your ways over and above the sky’s. Like wearing shorts in freezing weather.
YET… No science can tell me why I’m inspired when I look up at this massive entity! No systems can include my heart rate rising when I catch glimpses like these. I’m in awe of the sky. It reminds me that I’m small, and yet beckons me to be greater! It puts to shame anything I can create, yet makes me creative! I have no control over it, but I’m gladly moved by it! Can something like this be random? Can it truly just be a bunch of colliding coincidences of reality?
Looking up, capturing these moments, taking in their wonder, drawing more strength… The sky, definitely brings me…
CLOSER TO HEAVEN!
I saw this really interesting “African variation” of a chandelier. The restaurant has a definite “outdoor” flavour in its decor, and this feature absolutely stood out for us as we ate. There it was, this eerie object, it was almost scary! Reminded me of a movie scene in a jungle, just screaming “Danger”! It was an absolutely dark figure hovering above us, and yet, it was also providing us with light. Here was this ‘thing’ that was freaky but served a beneficial purpose for us.
I wonder how many events or situations (or even people) come to us in packages that are less than lovely, but carry something that we need for our lives. It could be a lesson, an idea, help, growth…it could be anything you need. The fact that its appearance may put you off, isn’t an excuse to NOT engage. It would be so easy to let something influence you on an obvious level. You need some guts to allow yourself to be affected by a situation for the sake of finding the “light” in it!
This chandelier, was definitely a picture of Twisted Hope.