It is what it isn’t…

Contrary to the expression, “it is what it is,” I’m reminded that many things in our day-to-day lives aren’t what they appear to be.  What it is, is often isn’t.

It comes in many forms, but this spectre of self-doubt, worth, value, meaning, purpose,etc. is more apparent now than ever. We may not say or admit to it, but I sense many from all walks of life are experiencing an existential crisis.

We may not feel smart enough. Or attractive enough. We may think, “why don’t I have more of what he/she has?”  The forces of social media, the rise of celebrity status, the persistent beat of consumption, the increasingly divisive discourse of “I’m right, you’re wrong” all contribute to this hunger for meaning and purpose.

But the larger question shouldn’t be, “why are so many things messed up?” Ask yourself, “what can I do to make life a little easier for someone else?” At the end of every spinning class, our instructor encourages us with these directives: believe that you can do what you plan to do and if you want to feel good about yourself, do something good for someone else.

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Solitude Found

However I feel and wherever I am, I try to find solitude. It’s a quiet that renews me because I can be myself.  Solitude encourages me not only to reflect, but to jettison the ill-feelings of comparisons and expectations.  The Rolling Stones, rock classic, Satisfaction, is so very telling:

“…When I’m watchin’ my TV and a man comes on and tells me
How white my shirts can be
But, he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
The same cigarettes as me…”

I’m not equating isolation with solitude, as the former suggests being devoid of sensory inputs.  No, this is about a mindfulness that keeps at bay the disquiet of our modern life.  Turn off the radio, the TV, the podcast, et al. Though it may be easier–if all too obvious–to find solitude when completely alone, that is unnecessary.  Solitude can manifest itself anywhere. Don’t you find solitude at a social event [even at work] when you can momentarily remove yourself to a space that doesn’t invade your thinking and feeling?  Step away, even for a moment, to find some quiet, some calm, some level of respite.

We’ve yielded to wanting impressions that don’t add genuine value to our sense of self: number of likes, tweets, comments, “friends”, postings and so forth.  Allow yourself to be your own best company.

Splashes of Light

Those who live close to the 66th circle of latitude have it tough. This is  the area of earth known as the Arctic Circle. Brutally low temperatures notwithstanding, the brevity of available daylight 6-7 months of the year would be the metaphorical stake-in-the-chest for me.

While light is essential to vision, perception, photosynthesis and so forth, on any given day light can also trigger a variety of feelings.

You can argue that what one sees in a photograph is more variants of shade and hue than actual light. Like 2 sides of a coin, you can defend one POV over another, but there’s no denying the fascination some of us have for how light can enlighten…