Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen, 1934-2016
This has been a strange and unsettling ten days in the UK.
So many things are in flux, the future uncertain, huge questions being asked about politics, identity, nationality, and at the deepest core about our values – what kind of a society we claim to be, and want to be.
I found myself in England last weekend, two days after the referendum. Sometimes, switching on the news, this country where I was born and grew up can feel like a foreign country, changed and changing, different.
Not so in the hills.
We headed out for a walk in the Peak District where the world was green and lush, the air warm, the brief but heavy showers providing welcome relief from the stickiness of the climb. It was quiet on the paths on the way up and back down again, but along the top was a ridge path, easily accessible from a car-park, and the place was hoaching with people.
We sat and enjoyed a picnic a short distance from the path, watching the rain clouds in the valley beyond, the greenness of the hills, and the beautiful diversity of the people walking by: no stereotyped hikers here but all ages, shapes and sizes, all kinds of voices, all backgrounds, points of view. People smiled at each other and greeted the day, in all its rainy sunny loveliness.
Things felt different here, quieter and more human. I couldn’t help thinking, up there eating my sandwiches and back here looking at this photograph, that the world conspires to make us feel separate and different, to see a gulf that lies between us.
And yet here we all are, one Saturday afternoon in June, just walking this earth together.
I was half watching a programme the other night about space. The presenter was talking about gravity.
One way to think about gravity, he said, is that everything in the universe is just falling through space time.
The moon is falling into the valley created by the mass of the earth. The earth is falling into the valley created by the sun, and the solar system is falling into the valley created by our galaxy, and our galaxy is falling towards other galaxies in the universe.
He looked pretty happy about this theory (perhaps this is because he was perched on top of a stunning mountain range) but I confess it made me feel a little strange, this feeling that everything might just be: falling.
Sometimes the time that we’re in has that feeling too, that things are getting darker, tumbling in a way that’s outwith our control. The political environment is toxic, the news is dark as can be, and despite our fancy theories about the wonders of the universe we seem little closer to knowing how to look after this most beautiful planet.
It’s one of the reasons I find myself returning over and again to the quiet, tiny wonder of macro photography. Sometimes even the size of a landscape is too much to me but I always love the detail of the close-up watching, the surprise of what the lens might reveal. Plus you always know where you stand with a flower.
Here are a few recent macro shots, taken with the Hipstamatic. I hope you enjoy them.
(Wordless Wednesday was and maybe still is a blogging tradition, to post a photograph without words of explanation, on a Wednesday. It always appealed to me in theory, but it doesn’t come naturally to me… However, I’m going to give it a go as a variation in blogging, as part of beginning again.)
in my notebook
after this long silence
I took a break from here which turned into a little longer than expected.
And then, as happens when you take a break from blogging (and which is why in truth it’s better just to keep on going and shift position as you go) it became harder to come back again.
Somehow you wish for some grand insight, some truth you’d hauled to the surface during your time away, while in reality I just have most of the same old questions, and a reminder of the same old truth that the art of practice is simply being willing enough, and humble enough, to begin again, again.
without the words
to begin again
I watch an orange-tip
carve a passage
through the sun