Sit Up and Sing

I was reflecting last week on what it means to be awake, and to awaken.

And what it means to be asleep.

If truth be told, the main thing I learned is that it’s not good for me to spend too much time thinking about things. Whereas walking on a cold December morning with my camera in hand, well that’s a different matter.

One photo from the morning’s walk put me in mind of this line from Rumi: Continue reading “Sit Up and Sing”

What You Focus On, Increases

cuckooflower in sunlight

What you focus on, increases.

It’s a simple enough equation, really.

Write about love, and you will start to notice love in different places, people, possibilities.

Write about flowers, share photographs of flowers, and you will feel more aware of the beauty and essence of flowers (and realise this is something you have missed in the months of the winter season).

Go out walking, looking for a colour, and you will notice all sorts of extraordinary things, falling over themselves to call to you, to wave at you, look how red I am, look how orange!

(If you have never tried this particular exercise, it is well worth trying for a week, for a day, for a walk. Pick a colour, then go looking for it with your camera.)

Head out with your eyes open for the possibility of spring, springing, quietly, and you will surely find some sign.

Write about landscapes, the wisdom of trees, the way that the hills call you home, and you will start to feel more welcome. More at home.

Write about the moments that make your heart beat wilder, faster, stronger, and in future time your memory will play, vivid with those moments.

Take photographs of the things that you love, and your memory will play, colourful, beautiful, with the images of those moments.

It’s a simple enough equation, and one I will keep trying to remember.

What you focus on, increases.

Flower, Dancing by the Waterfall

field scabious by a waterfall

You do not need to know the name of a flower to enjoy it and to notice it.

That’s not to say I don’t try to learn more about the flowers: I do, and I enjoy learning more about them, looking up reference books, trying to find the right name, understanding a bit more about their meaning and symbolism and use in days gone by, wondering if I can find a Gaelic name to add a bit of poetry too.

But I can’t always manage it. I often can’t manage it.

I look up what I’ve seen (and captured, often, close up with a macro) and still come away scratching my head, unsure as to what the name might be.

As time goes by the more I think it doesn’t matter, not for this purpose anyway, this noticing, this appreciation, this wondering.

Perhaps the desire to name and to label can even get in the way, a barrier to simply seeing what we see.

The precision of naming takes away from the uniqueness of seeing ~ Pierre Bonnard

I did not need to know what this flower’s name was to notice her, to bend down and try and capture her, even as she danced, furiously in the wind and the spray of the waterfalls behind.

You do not need to know why the moment matters to me, why the place matters, why the falls are special, or even what the flower said.

I think perhaps it is enough for me to label this in my mind, in my heart, in my flickr stream: flower, dancing by the waterfall.

Flower Photography, and Living in the World

I am lucky enough to have a poet-photographer as one of my friends.

She told me one day about the macro function on my camera (‘do you have a button with a flower picture next to it…? Yes, that’s it…’)

[No, I really didn’t know, and don’t tend to read instructions.]

More importantly, she encouraged me to take and share less ordinary photographs.

Photographs that capture the extraordinariness of everyday things. With her encouragement, I started taking photographs of the wild flowers that I saw as I walked.  (I love to walk).

Such a simple sentence:

I started taking photographs of the wild flowers that I saw as I walked

The words can’t do justice to what really happened, changing the way that I see things for ever. Because as I walked, and took photos, I learned to:

  • Notice beauty and wonder all around me
  • Find evidence of life and growth in the most unlikely of places
  • Stumble across the tiniest of flowers, previously hidden from my view
  • Bend down, hunker down, lie down in order to notice them properly
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Listen to what the flowers had to say (yes, they do talk)
  • Celebrate colour
  • See patterns
  • Say thank you
  • Wash my eyes in wonder

If I had to try and sum it up, I’d say it was the art of paying attention.

It’s how I want to walk, from here on, through the world.

Drinking in detail, patterns, colour, wonder, thank you.

Eyes washed in wonder.*


The phrase: ‘Eyes washed in wonder’ flows from a prescription for poetry I’ve been taking for the last few years.  It is one of the lines in the Poet’s Prescription by Diana Hendry.