Loss, Grief and Healing
“I go to nature to be soothed, healed and have my senses put in order.”– John Burroughs
This is a difficult and harrowing time for so many people. I worry about my family and friends every day. This worry has led me to daily deep contemplation about how I use social media and this blog in particular. I try to use this blog to uplift and bring a small bit of joy to the readers. I do not want to add more despair to the world. I tell a few stories and show photos and do my best to illustrate that this world isn't solely sorrow and suffering and sadness. There is however, even in the best of times, much suffering in our world. The virus and the racial injustice and the environmental degradation just put an exclamation point on it.
The other day on my daily walk I thought, "Life essentially consists of loss, grieving and recovery."
In my life I have suffered breathtakingly deep losses, extended periods of grieving and, thankfully, blessed healing and recovery. The thought of writing about these losses as a process of redemption overwhelms me. I have chosen a different path to find solace. I immerse myself in nature and then share.
I know, if you have lived very long, that you too have experienced breathtaking losses. The longer we live the more they pile up. I often find myself these days thinking about my lost loved ones and dead best friends...perhaps that is the way of old age. I remember my 90 year old uncle telling me he didn't want to live so long - it was too hard to lose everyone. I understand and, I'm guessing, you do too. And now this terrible virus which has already claimed at least 130,000 lives and the grim numbers still grow.
Also, now, we see the ongoing tragic effects of racism in our country. I grew up in the 1960's and saw much civil unrest and this reminds me all too much of 1968. My heart breaks daily and I cannot understand why we are still dealing with these clear issues of right and wrong.
Another of my favorite quotes is; "What defines us is how well we rise after falling".
If falling is loss and we all fall... the question then becomes, "so how well do you rise?"
These days when I feel my heart breaking I fall back on the one thing I know will bring me solace and comfort and hope and healing...nature. I believe that without my loving family and nature I would not have been able to cope with the losses of this life and, candidly, I wouldn't be here.
As you know, I have taken to the road the last several years and that, in turn, has taken me to photography. Now, of course with the damn virus, is a difficult time to hit the road and take photos. Instead, I decided to share two old photos a day on my Twitter account. Besides my backyard it's about as much nature as I'm getting these days. Simply looking through the photos helps me catch my breath and injects a bit of joy into my days. That was my goal in my last post as well. So, perhaps, you might sense a theme.
I am always a bit bemused by seeing which photos get the most attention because rarely are they my favorites. Awhile back my online friend, Chris LaTray posted a magnificent photo that ended up with somewhere near a thousand "likes". And while it was certainly a stunning photo - I wanted to say, "Hey! Have you seen his other stuff?!". It's an old story - often what is popular is not necessarily the best. I always use the McDonald's metaphor - selling billions of burgers doesn't exactly make it fine dining, does it?
Regardless, I thought I'd share what others seem to like. And, in order to lighten our load I offer these revisits from days gone by in hopes that it may bring you a tiny bit of relief from these difficult days.
The following photo, which actually is one of my favorites, garnered some attention. It is of Imperial Point, on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, taken on a late afternoon in July 2018 while on a photo walk with my pal, Liz Kylin.
I admit I was very surprised about this next one being popular - at all. I was all alone with old baby Nikon and took this photo of the Chihuahuan Desert in Big Bend National Park, Texas in spring of 2015. It seems very ordinary to me...
The next one is from one of my many trips to Red Rock Canyon State Park here in California near the old ghost town of Cantil.
Next is a photo of Half Dome in September 2017.
My Casita, my little home away from home, a quiet and chilly night at Red Rock.
Here's old Route 66 near Essex, CA
This is near Johannesburg, CA and one I have framed in my office - it captures a bit of the West of my life...
I took a gazillion photos of Fajada Butte in Chaco with my iphone and shared one - it's a deeply moving place...
Funny enough I realized recently I don't have very many photos of my "home" National Park -Joshua Tree. I've had two trips canceled by the idiots running the government and have also been a bit disgusted by the crowds... but, here's one from a trip a few years back that Lilly was on... Gonna get out there this Fall...
The website "Visit Colorado" picked up this photo of Cliff Palace.
And lastly, to show you how you really can't explain tastes... this one was actually liked...it's a geezer in the High Uinta Mountains of Utah.
Welp, that's it! Thanks for riding along on our trip down memory lane.
I've been making a few photos of our wild Orange County backyard and I hope to have you visit with me back there real soon - at least virtually.
Stay safe. Take care of one another...
Paul J Peterson
7/7/2020 07:44:22 am
Thank you for that beautifully written message. Those are all great photos but the Casita is my favorite. It helps me dream of those other places. I'll be looking for you on Twitter! Take care friend. Paul
7/9/2020 10:33:06 am
Hey Paul! Thanks, pal! I sure appreciate your kind words...and let's get out to some of those places.. soon, I hope. Grateful to you amigo...
7/7/2020 07:57:08 am
It's a heart breaking time, no doubt. I do my best most days to count my blessings. You are one. Take good care.
7/9/2020 10:31:08 am
Back at ya, Carol! Man, I'm grateful to know you...
7/7/2020 09:15:24 am
I love the pictures, Jeff. Thanks for sharing. For the one at Cliff Palace, what time of day was it taken? Looks like early morning, but hard to tell with black and white (love the black & white, by the way).
7/9/2020 10:30:24 am
Thanks, Steve - you are right! It was early morning - about 8AM. Thanks buddy for the kind comments. Hope we can see each other soon - so much.
7/9/2020 10:28:54 am
Chris - thank you so much. I think if you as one of the best people around...and feel lucky to know you
7/7/2020 08:28:27 pm
Thank you. The last thing I am reading tonight before I turn off technology.
7/9/2020 10:26:56 am
Ah... thanks Christina - I hope you enjoyed them...
7/9/2020 01:41:58 pm
Great ideas shared in this post, Doc. Fine images too. "How well do you rise?" Or, 'How do you respond?' These are the pertinent questions of our disruptive, uncertain, risky, disaster-ridden time. Some of the biggest risks being hidden chemicals, discarded medicines and pollution surrounding us in our environment, sickening us, giving us degenerative illnesses and killing us.
7/11/2020 07:58:06 am
Lots of wisdom in those comments, David. You are exactly right - thank you so kindly for following along...it's a privilege...
7/11/2020 01:10:18 pm
Thanks for the update Jeff and the wonderful pictures you share. I am blessed to live and be a steward of 270 acres of unspoiled Colorado Forest. Just returned from a trip taking care of the grandkids-ages 1 & 4. My son and his wife had the virus in April-she works in a Nursing Home-they are fine. Crazy times yes, but we can chose to collude or not with the craziness. Wishing you peace, joy and abundant health.
7/17/2020 04:56:16 pm
Oh Darla - your comments are always so kind and mean so much. I;m so glad your son and his wife are fine. We have had a few members of our family get the virus - sadly, one of them passed away.
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This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.