… on the peace of the present

I took this pic in the pink light of early this morning.

It’s not a perfect shot of the dove’s head, but that was actually on purpose (I’ve had my share of fortuitous photographic accidents, all of which I admit to freely. I am, if not always competent, a happily humble amateur (masquerading as a wicked professional photographer).

As I looked through the lens, I found myself mesmerized by – and then focused on – the patterns that were so present in dove’s poofed up-ed-ness.

I used to think they were all just wicked fat, having been piglets in the fall.


Doves, and birds in general, poof themselves up in the winter on purpose. Their body heat warms the air between their feathers, so – not kidding – it seems the poofier the bird, the warmer he or she is!

Turns out my round little ‘fatties’ were just donning their parkas (pah-kahs) and hanging out at the local watering hole (this year, we actually got a heated bird bath and it has proved quite popular with the customers… which means that, yes, we opened a bar at the Dingle Diner Outdoor Bistro. And, being rebels, we did it in advance of getting our liquor license (so let’s just keep this between us)).

I had seen the dove sitting on the bird bath, and gone to get my camera because it was so pretty. In the midst of this, JoHn put on his coat. This signaled the dogs that he was ready to go OUT, which created chaos. So I asked JoHn to please pause in the middle of Marshal and Blaze vocalizing their excitement (and jumping and dancing as they sang louder and louder) – while I grabbed a few shots of my dove through the side door.

Point: It was not silent, nor calm, as I was clicking.

Also, things weren’t working for me.

I tried to focus on the dove’s eye, and my lens wanted to jump from that, to the naked, wintry stems of the rose bush I was shooting through. I’d get a nice clear shot of a rose cane, then the dove’s eye, then his beautiful head, then the wing but the head would be all out of focus… (well, you get the idea).

And it was kind of frustrating, because the dogs were being loud and insistent, and I was getting all anxious because I didn’t want to hold JoHn up, and I had other things to get done before I had to do some more other things…. and blah blah blah went my brain.

Until I realized that the exact thing I was trying to make not happen, was happening anyway. This was just. The way. It was.

So I pulled my brain up short, and we just… paid attention.

And when we stopped fighting what was actually happening, and relaxed into it, something kind of cool happened.

I became totally mesmerized by the feathers and patterns that were in focus, even when the head wasn’t quite.

I clicked away another four or five times, and chuckled. Then I called – well, screamed – over the wHining, wHimpering, tippy-tappy dogs to let JoHn know that I was done and he could take them out.

Everyone was happy… well, probably not my dove who was rudely forced into flight by two nutty German ShepHerds, but I’m sure just he flew away into the deep shelter of evergreens until they disappeared back inside the big white box that is our home.

When I came to my computer, and had a look at what I’d captured, I was rewarded not only with the patterns I’d been so drawn to, but also three tiny snowflakes bringing up the rear of the snowstorm that had blown through on its way north this past weekend. And the eye that I was working so hard to get nice and sharp and in focus? It felt perfect being just not so, a little bit in shadow, letting the poofed up feathers take center stage.

There is a saying I am more than fond of, and it goes something like this:

Being at peace, it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means being in the midst of those things, and still being calm in your heart.

I don’t know who said it, but don’t even try to figure it out. I’ve seen it attributed to the Dalai Lama, and also – not kidding – Lady Gaga.

Anyway, I love the idea. It rings to true to me.

I don’t need to take a vacation to a remote island, or even take a walk to get to a peaceful state o’ mind (although I will say, a walk in nature with my camera nearly always does it). I can just remind my brain and self that the present is all I have to work with. It is the only certain thing. And there is nearly always something splendid taking place in it, if I just take the time to look.

Even in the darkest days and years, I have faith that I will eventually come upon, at the very least, a spark. And that it will lead to another, and another and another and soon – maybe and seemingly impossibly – I will indeed find light, and safe harbor, in the midst of chaos. It’s a thing.

Sometimes it takes a very long time.

Sometimes not.

The busy brain has to give way a bit… make room for the soul, I think.

But today, my reminder to be at peace in the midst of real life was – quite literally – found on the wings of a dove.

And you know, it can’t get any more ‘in your face’ than that.

Thanks for readin’.

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