My Three Pictures

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A goat, my boys, and a ruin. Pictures that tell me how to live.

Walls need life. My new office had a blank wall that glared at me. I didn’t like that glare. So I began to think about what I would like to look at when I stared at the wall. Rather than think of my office walls as I did in my 20s, where I put up pictures declaring my adventures, or in my 30s, where I created strange interior design themes, I declared this time would be different.  I decided it was time for the pictures to tell me a story rather than me tell a story with the pictures. I set out looking NOT for great photography, but pictures that spoke words I needed to hear every single day.

Picture #1: Mountain Goat on the Top of Peak 9 in Breckenridge, Colorado

This picture is about possibility, hope, and potential. It reminds me that there is life outside my office walls. It reminds me that the world is bigger than whatever is going on at work. It reminds me of happiness for today and the joy awaiting me tomorrow. It tells me of the beauty, diversity, and complexity of nature. It reminds me of my strength and the need to take risks and reach forward every single day.

Picture #2: My Boys (at Ages 8 and 10) on the Beach

This picture is about innocence, sweetness, and unconditional love. It reminds me of who I am, whose I am, and who I need to be. My kids are young adults now. They are faced with the fears, pain, and troubles that can come with growing up—things they never imagined would happen when they looked out into the ocean that day. This picture helps me wrap my children around my heart each day, regardless of time or age, and pray for their safety and health as they step further into the ocean of life. The picture helps me appreciate the fun we had as a family despite the difficulties we were experiencing at the time. It reminds me how we all put our arms around each other, held each other up, and made the best of moments even in the hardest of times. It reminds me of loving unconditionally and how I need to be love to my family and the rest of the world every single day.

Picture #3: The Observatory at Chichen Itza

This picture is about perspective. The Maya who built this incredible structure were once a thriving civilization in the Yucatan—a culture who made incredible discoveries for their age. They knew the cycles of the stars and how to architect structures with precision accuracy to point to the heavens and create shadows to cast time on the ground. This picture reminds me to never stop asking questions and to be a true scientist and philosopher as I study the world. The picture also is a warning to never be so sure of myself to think that I–that we– can’t end up in ruins. Nothing on Earth is guaranteed or forever —not successes, not failures, not cultures, not peoples, not countries, not even our planet. This picture tells me a story of greater perspective every single day.

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My son saw my picture selection sitting out before I took them to work.  Like any good artist, he wondered why I would want this set. They had nothing in common. No similar theme– not time, not subject, not place, not artistic quality.  He thought they would look strange on my wall. They do. And, I love them every single day.

 

Getting Out of the Box and Playing Your Life

This landscape design was part of somebody’s opus. Thank you.

The way we each individually see the world is fascinating to me. And more and more I am seeing the tiny connections our brains make between everything we see and taste and touch. It is the reason I write this blog—to capture one small view of relationships, things, and events that seem related or relevant in my own mind. And with 7 billion brains on this planet, I can only imagine the strange and beautiful connections others make on a daily basis.

Today as my husband and I strolled around a meticulously designed resort in Florida, our breath was taken away by the landscape architecture and man-made waterfalls. What we were looking at was art. The art of placing three palm trees just so as to capture the rays of spotlights at night. The art of being able to see in your mind’s eye what a finished water feature will look like and then architecting it to become your vision. Art. It is all around us. Inspired by natural wonders and then using natural wonders to do something unnaturally new, yet wonderful.

I’ve been pondering art intensely for the past few weeks and making connections between unconnected things. Recently, I watched the movie August Rush and have been haunted by the notion of “feeling the music” everywhere. August was a musical genius who could hear music in everything.  Without any musical instruments in the first decade of his life, he had to figure out what he was feeling. He had to follow his call. And once he discovered how to use his gift, he just wanted to share it, to play it, to let it fill the world. Not be on stage. Not be famous. Not perform. Just play it.

I also read Station Eleven this week. It is a book about people trying to survive after a worldwide pandemic. A group of musicians and actors traveled the crumbling world, not for the glory or applause, but because there was something magnificent they had to share. Something they needed to share.

One of the things I love about writing, and most recently preaching, is not the act of writing or speaking, but the takeaway people receive. The most incredible part to me is when people tell you what they heard through your message and it isn’t what you thought you were saying at all.  They digest it through their own experience, their own gifts, their own story…and it becomes something even more beautiful. Something you couldn’t even imagine.

As I think about what I desire most in this world, it isn’t much different than August. I hunger to bring joy and life to the world through the gifts I’ve been given and share my version of art. I can hardly stop thinking about it every single day. What am I doing every day? How am I using my gifts?

Occasionally I look around and realize I am in a box again. The world puts me there. I put myself there. You can’t climb a mountain in a box. Mountains are dangerous and awesome and moving. Boxes are not. Sometimes I catch myself decorating my box with other people’s art—pictures of mountains—and forgetting that if I just knock down that flimsy cardboard wall, a mountain is standing right in front of me…waiting for me. Waiting for me to embrace my music on my own climb.

I love all the “mountains” I’ve scaled. I have no regrets. Even the ones I never peaked. Maybe especially the ones I’ve never peaked. It has never been about the performance.

What is this music I’m hearing all the time? I know I need to create something. I’ve been chasing it all my life. There is something always calling me.