In the company of light, shadow and color

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Countenance

In 2005, PBS aired a series entitled, “American Masters” which showcased the work of legendary if not ground breaking artists. I enjoyed watching the series, but one program struck a chord: Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light.

One comment in particular stuck with me. Essentially, Avedon mentioned “the landscape of the human face.”  Lines, creases, smooth or rough, dark or light and every combination in between, a person’s countenance says a few things about an individual’s life journey and current life stage.

Ode to Imaginative Playing

Wherever and whenever possible, the grandsons engage body, mind and soul in imaginative play. And it’s good for them. We encourage such play and the possibilities that open up for their young selves.

If you watch them, listen to them, their imagination and enthusiasm bursts with a palpable vigor of discovery. We could learn a thing or two from such unbridled vigor.

An arm extended is a wing just as the rushing, whooshing sound from their mouth is that of fast-moving air giving lift to the aircraft. You can’t ignore their commentary for it further explains the depth of their imagination and understanding of how they play. “He’s way up in the sky…diving down then up again…he goes very far and very fast.”

I see in all their  imaginative play a power that exceeds that of any CPU. What they emotionally and physically feel, the how of what their mind’s eye offers, when they encounter a challenge [“He won’t share the glider!”]—or arrive at a compromise or solution—every bit of it adds to their development as communicators, problem-solvers, collaborators and empathetic beings.

Indeed seeing these two boys and all that they say and do remind me to nurture my own imagination.  At least not to ignore it. The why of such nurturing can liberate and acknowledge a sense of purpose and triumph.  Many of us are unlikely to realize our loftiest, most ambitious dreams and goals, but pause and think again.

Our imagination can fuel possibilities that can manifest into a journey that’s not only our own, but a story genuine to our sense of self .

Wandering towards warmth

It’s at this time of year when I hear longings for warmer weather. From workers in the office building–a lot while in the elevator–to family and friends, I hear wanting cries and wishes for winter to end. February is akin to that last push toward a finish line; it’s a test of emotional endurance because you’ve made it this far yet there’s still a distance to go. When will this end? Let’s finish winter and get on with spring. Polar vortex aside, I’m still enjoying winter. However with daylight piling on, it’s not difficult to think about spring.

In no uncertain terms, sunny, warmer weather puts people in a better mood, especially during those first few days. What’s not to like? You get more vitamin D. The air feels gentler. The sky appears friendlier. The pace of life is calmer. The sounds and sights of life are no longer insulated: laughter, more people outdoors, car windows open, music escapes from said windows, smiles appear from once stoic, resigned faces and of course, fashion turns lighter as puffy, padded, heavy and scratchy attire is relegated to dry cleaning, the cedar chest or some other domestic sarcophagus to be opened later in the year.

Many of us in New England are already wandering toward and wondering about the warmth. For now, we can still huddle in our coats, don an extra layer, warm ourselves with a mug of Hot Toddy and make the best of things next to the fireplace or wood stove.

North

A few days ago, the cold felt punishing. Yes, I have preference for cold versus hot days, but when the air is already cold at zero degrees Fahrenheit, then enhanced with a windchill of -15, well, that may be enough to reconsider that preference.

I’m fortunate that I can retreat to places where the cold and wind don’t feel as threatening. From the safety of these retreats, I philosophize on the dual sides of nature, of how something that can appear simple and beautiful and minimal can deliver a reality check powerful enough to humble any aesthete caught up in winter’s vanity.

Do you get the feeling that winter provides a sense of calm? The calm I speak of provides a level of reassurance. This winter calm is a metaphorical blanket, one which acts like a shield from unwelcome and sometimes sudden vicissitudes. Such a blanket stops–albeit briefly–the weariness of having to deal with things that keep us from finding a particular quiet.

And when the quiet is welcoming, the alone time is curative…