Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The First Noble Truth - Life Is

Good Morning

Waking up, seeing what my phone is bringing me this morning. Continuing the exploration on my laptop. Photoessays at Lensculture, after a Buddhadharma study group last night.


Three articles that leave me raw:
Ana Vallejo: Entre Nubes
Rafael Soldi: Reflecting on Childhood
W. Scott Olsen: A Hard Beauty: A Review of Lynsey Addario’s “Of Love & War”


A ... woman walks through a plume of smoke rising from a massive fire ...
as she searches for her husband © Lynsey Addario
The image is stark. A figure wrapped in fabric. Dark against a dark sky. Wind blowing. Smoke. Debris. A skeleton of a structure ahead. A slanted horizon. Off balance. Two feet on the ground.

Shapes. Light. Shadows. Before the words. Before the context. Lynsey Addario. A woman. Takes a photograph of another woman. A woman searching. Searching for her husband. 

A desolate space. In the frame. In the world. Then. 2003. There. A massive fire. Iraq. Chaos. Inside and outside the frame. 

Chaos. IRL. In Real Life. Death. Destruction. An order created by humans. Destroyed by humans. The same. Different. 

Personal. One person with another. Connections. Torn apart. The fabric of a life. The fabric of two lives. The fabric of a society. Shredded in a series of explosions. In the crossfire of tribes. A global fire sweeping through the life of one person. A life in flames. 

We see no flames. No tears. No wail of anguish. No wounds. No blood. 

The photograph is silent. Still. 

Yet it speaks loudly. Reaching out to me. I to it. Across time and space. 

Of all the images in this review, I chose this one to post. Abstract. One with the least detail. The least connection with a specific human. The caption is edited to remove the limited context that is supplied in the article. It doesn't matter exactly where this is, though of course it does. It doesn't matter exactly when it was, though of course it does. 

My gateway to the potent. Frame it. Dive in. 

The actions, the lives, this photograph speaks to were very particular, were very specific. The things not captured but imaginable. The sounds. The smells. The heat. The threat to the lives of the two people we know for sure were there. The woman in silhouette. The photographer behind the lens. The action surrounding them.

I scroll through the other images in the review. A flood of details. Some crisp in bright light. Some humor in the destruction. A destroyed plane looking like a cartoon bird. An Emergency Exit sign as though that opening would lead to a place of peace and safety. 

Moments of calm beauty. A person in the lush green of woods. Another at the prow of a boat on a still lake. 

Moments of ordinary intimacy. A mother combing her daughter's hair. Another mother feeding her daughter. A sister holding her sister. Children playing. Men carrying a fallen comrade. 

These too are fleeting. Yet captured in a photograph to come back to. To reflect on. 

Captured. Taken out of context. Brought into my life. On my screen. This morning. 

The Truth of Suffering

Last night. A study group. The Four Noble Truths. A meditative understanding of pain, which is life, and suffering, which is what we add. Of our experience. Living our lives. 

Lives with the chaos of ordinary living. Living with our mothers. Our mothers living with us. Living with our pets. Or the memories of pets who have died. Of relationships that have ended. Of the people we touch each day. 

Our desire to be of help. Teachers. Students. 

Healing. Not erasing the past. Not being numb to the pain. Finding a stronger, deeper humanity in how it has moved through us. Where it got stuck. Where we got stuck. Where I got stuck. 

Joy as well. Humor. Sparks of delight.

90 minutes of connection. Of exploration. 

[Join that group. It's on-line. Alternate Tuesday evenings. Come for one or more of the sessions.There is no charge. Hosted by the Chicago Shambhala Meditation Center.]

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