Tag Archives: thoughts

Why am I doing this?

                ‘I shot an arrow into the air.

                It fell to earth I knew not where.’

As I sat down to write, I recalled these opening lines from Longfellow’s poem The Arrow and the Song.  In the second stanza the poet ‘breathed a song into the air’ with similar uncertainty. Had he been heard?

Blogging is a curious activity.  We write or, in the case of photographs, show whatever we have to offer, then with a click of the mouse away it goes.  Like Longfellow’s arrow, we have no idea where it will land.

Presumably all bloggers at one time or another ask themselves ‘Why am I doing this?’  Many will have good reason: for some it provides a profitable income; for others it is a journal documenting their activities; while some see it as a vehicle through which to express strongly held views.  Indeed, there are probably as many reasons as there are bloggers.

But why am I doing this?

My photos are an invitation to others to see the world through my eyes.  I am fascinated by patterns, shapes and texture, especially in natural objects  –  grass, rocks and pebbles, seaweed, the play of sunlight on water etc.  Often such natural phenomena are passed by without a second thought.  I search them out and enjoy playing with an image to capture and enhance the character of the original.  The aim is to create a picture about rather than a picture of.

The written pieces are more diverse in purpose.  A few introduce the photos; some are autobiographical in the sense of recalling incidents and events from the past;   others offer thoughts based on personal experience. But most use the opportunity to draw together and crystallise my own thinking on the chosen topic (as in this case).  None are intended to pontificate, although in some instances they reflect personal opinion and conviction.  Quotations are used liberally because (a) they are usually succinct, and (b) they are often memorable.

I derive considerable pleasure from the process of creating, but I readily admit that the anonymity of the ‘audience’/the ‘recipients’ (is there a collective noun to describe a group of blog readers?) frustrating.  Musicians and actors meet their audiences; writers have their books reviewed and rub shoulders with their readers at book signings, talks and other literary activities.  Artists usually sell their works to people who appreciate their skill and style.  But the blogger lives in a bubble, adrift from the real world.

Yes, it is pleasing (sometimes exciting) to see the number of ‘views’ grow by the day, but wouldn’t it be nice to know more about the people behind the clicks?  Who are they?  Where are they from?  What are their interests?  What do they think?  How did they stumble upon my blog?  I am sometimes tempted to put a piece in a bottle and cast it into the Channel, just to see if there is life out there.

But before I sound too disillusioned let me return to the last stanza of Longfellow’s poem:

                ‘Long, long afterward, in an oak

                I found the arrow, still unbroken;

                And the song, from beginning to end,

                I found again in the heart of a friend.’

Clearly there is hope yet!

See also About My Photographs, Hello And Welcome, Introducing the Dune Grass photos, The Water Abstracts

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Filed under Opinions, Poem, Quotations, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Silence, please!

We have a friend  –  an attractive, intelligent, caring, fun person.  But she has one ‘fault’ I find irritating  –  and I’m not alone, I’ve seen other raised eyebrows  –  she cannot cope with silence.  The slightest gap in a conversation has to be filled  –  not necessarily meaningfully, just filled.

What is it about silence that many people seem to find threatening?  Do they feel lonely?  Unwanted?  Detached from the world?  Are they afraid of being invaded by their own uncontrollable thoughts?  Are they fearful of other people’s silence  –  what are ‘they’ thinking?

It is true that the world generally is becoming increasingly noisy.  Research carried out at Sheffield Hallam University revealed that the noise level in Sheffield city centre had doubled between 1991 and 2001.  Advances in technology have exacerbated the problem.  In 2010 there were 130 working mobiles for every 100 people in the UK.  It is virtually impossible to escape Muzac in shops, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants.  Whether in the town or a country lane we are bombarded by the loud, throbbing bass emanating from a passing car.

Even in supposedly quiet places, silence is broken by the intrusive text message alert and one-sided mobile phone conversations.  The stifled jangles of pop music escape from MP3 earpieces.  The noise threshhold has risen insidiously.

Of course, there are orchestrated public periods of silence from time to time  –  notably on Remembrance Sunday and at sporting events as a mark of respect for some famous sports personality who has died.  The silence of such large gatherings is often dramatic and moving and one marvels at the unified self-discipline and control of so many people.  But silence is never a vacuum and it would be interesting to be privy to the thoughts and feelings of the individuals within the mass.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, during the first industrial revolution, the poet Wordsworth wrote:
‘The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.’
His words are just as apt for the beginning of the twenty-first century.  We would do well to identify an oasis of silence in our daily routines; a brief period when we can be alone with ourselves.

Let us try an experiment.  For just one minute, close your eyes so that you are relying only on what you hear.  Sit perfectly still and remain totally silent.  Try to remember any sound you hear  –  however quiet or however loud the sound may be  –  but remain perfectly still with your eyes closed.  When the minute is up, open your eyes and try to recall all the different sounds you heard.  Decide their source of origin  –  natural, manufactured, caused by people etc.

Repeat the experiment but this time recall the thoughts that passed through your mind during the silence.

There, now!  That wasn’t at all frightening, was it?  And maybe you enjoyed an experience you don’t regularly find time for.

See also The quiet moment

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Filed under Opinions, Thoughts