These little birds don’t communicate like you and I. In fact, while watching them wander along the shoreline I never heard them make a single noise. And yet, as the waves would brush up onto the beach the entire group would move as if connected. Mesmerized, I followed their dance up and down the sandy promenade that mirrored the ebb and flow of the gentle water waltz. Occasionally, the group would stop and some members would plop down to rest, the others going on about their business with little regard for the setting few. Then, as quickly as they stopped, they jumped up again and meandered their way along the shoreline in search of the next best thing to find, whatever it might be they were looking for.
Although they moved as a group, it was clear that they did not have any specific pattern of interaction. Each little avian hunter appeared expertly focused on whatever tasty morsel it might find in the fringes of the watery diner and seemed oblivious to what the active peeper next to it might be doing. As an observer, it was fascinating to see this flock move as a unit, yet work as individuals. There was not an obvious collective goal, but it did feel like they had a strong desire to remain together. Interesting and fun to watch.
I know that many times in the past I also wandered through the day in crowds of people and focused on my own tasks at hand, unaware or maybe unfocused on the people surrounding me. It is so easy to get lost in myself at times. In fact, some of my loneliest moments presented while surrounded by the largest number of people.
I believe we’ve all been there at one point or another and truthfully that helps to consider that this feeling is never unique to just me. But how I deal with it is so much more important. As so well put by John Donne:
“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Perspective is the key and understanding that although at times I may walk with blinders on toward those around me, and try to consider myself alone, as soon as I am willing to open my eyes to the synergistic quality of human life; I am no longer capable of being alone or lonely.
There are too many days when I wake up and jump right into the news. I open up the paper and get bombarded with very little information that seems joyous. It tends to cloud my judgment and can even sour my day. I’m not sure why I am, like many others, drawn to bad news and tragedy.
What makes this even worse, is the tendency to start to view the world as a bad place full of bad people. I stereotype by geography and profile by association. In turn, I start to interact with the small world parts that I touch with a sense of caution and suspicion.
But I know there is a way to make the day better. From the mouth of a leader known for his focus on non-violence and peace, Mahatma Gandhi, comes very sage advice. His message is clear; “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty”
When I crafted the picture that accompanies this post, I was trying to show the frailty of the argument that I can’t assume to see the whole world when all I have to look at is a part no bigger than a single drop of water. I have to look beyond the dirt and the grime that can cover me in daily news. Every once in a while I need to wash off the grit that obscures my vision and let my eyes see a much cleaner view of what surrounds me.
Dewitt Jones, a well know photographer for National Geographic has promoted a great way to see each day with what he calls, “Celebrate What’s Right with the World.” It’s a fantastic blog and a great way to stay reminded of the good things that make this world a great place to be.
I am going to try and celebrate more good; so I can better handle things when the bad creeps back in.
♦Photo Tip♦ I like to think that creativity is the cornerstone of fun photography. Like not being afraid to laugh out loud, or dance in the rain– photography should be allowed to reflect who you are not who you think others want you to be. I take pictures that I never touch after the shutter snaps and I have pictures that through the magic of Photoshop resemble little of the original. I use photography to express emotion and capture moments in time that need to be preserved. Don’t be afraid to get creative!