Led on by the Light

I mentioned the other day that this has been a pretty crappy year for a lot of people. There’s been an onslaught of celebrity deaths that started with David Bowie and ended yesterday with the passing of Carrie Fisher (but there are a few more days left, so it could get worse!) And yes, there was that thing in November which is only going to get stupider (and that’s all I’ll say about that here). But for me, this year has been much better than 2014 or 2015.
My wife passed away unexpectedly in 2014, and in 2015 I was laid off from my job which ended my 30 year career in information technology.  But 2016 has been a year of transformation for me. I seem to have reinvented myself . I won’t go into the details but I feel filled with a confidence I have not experienced in a long time.
One of my favorite Chinese philosophers is Chang Tzu. He’s not as well-known as Confucius or Lao Tze, He was kind of a crank and railed against what he saw as the hierarchy that Confucius praised and which was built into ancient Imperial China. I suppose that’s why I like him so much; simply because of his curmudgeonly approach to things but still walking the path of Taoism and the natural world.
He said this: “Also, by the light shining out of chaos, the sage is guided; he does not make use of distinctions but is led on by the light.”
That’s important to me. It sums up many things and perhaps explains the totality of not only my visual art, but my entire life. When things are darkest that’s when they’ll return to daylight. Yin to Yang.
The photo in this post was taken at Sea Ranch on the Sonoma Coast north of San Francisco—one of my favorite places and a destination for many adventures with my wife. It was taken on her birthday in 2012. When I am out in the natural world observing the play of light and wind all my problems are put in perspective. They don’t really amount to much in comparison with those bigger things that occur without us having to do anything: sunrises and sunsets, and other processes and progressions that we cannot control. I solace in the fact that there are things I can do nothing about and that I can only experience. Even the terrible events that can send us whirling into grief and despair are so inevitable that we simply have to accept them and then pick up whatever pieces are left over after the storm passes.
Chang Tzu was right. There is always a light shining out of Chaos. It always shows the way out and into what happens next. Change is inevitable. We just have to roll with it rather than fighting it.
My favorite element of this photo is the small group of people at the bottom of the frame. The small size of the group and their anonymity in the midst of that huge sunset tells the story. Life goes on; that’s the theme. There is no use in making distinctions between happy or sad. They are simply one thing, and you can’t know one without bumping into the other.
(Photo notes: Nikon D700, Nikkor 28-300 mm at 180 mm, 1/4000 sec at f8. Lightroom and Color Efex Pro)

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