Twisted.

I suspect people may have thought I was slightly nuts yesterday when they saw me hunched over the flowers at the park, making photos. I used the “intentional camera movement” technique (which never disappoints, in my opinion). That method of photography involves shimmies, wiggles and twists of the camera during exposure, and usually, at least in my case, somewhat contorted body positions.

Ah, well. Being nuts helps me make interesting pictures once in a while.

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Awakening.

*In response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Awakening

Signed, sealed, delivered.

The pictures I’ve chosen to share on this site have been almost exclusively “found” photos – in other words, naturally occurring scenes or subjects (the exceptions that come to mind are the photos of compliant family members that resulted from my bossy posing directives).

Recently I’ve taken an interest in a conceptual approach, where the pictures are more “staged” in order to illustrate an idea or emotion. I’ve kept most of these photos to myself, since they’re more personal.

This one, though, came to mind when I learned that the WordPress Photo Challenge this week is liquid. True, the “liquid” isn’t the subject of this photo, but water is a key component here.

Message in a bottle (1 of 1)

I had been at the dollar store to pick up some tissue paper, and when I walked through the craft aisle to get to the checkout, a package of clear miniature corked bottles caught my eye. Inside each of the eight bottles was what looked like a tiny, rolled up slip of coloured paper.

I stood there, staring at the package. For what reason, I didn’t know. I’m not really a crafty person and I surely don’t need more trinkets lying around the house (I have two school-aged children and therefore far too many items lying around the house). Feeling a bit ridiculous, I bought the bottles, though I didn’t know what on Earth I’d use them for.

That became clearer when some days later I planned a morning photo walk on the beach, and remembered the tiny bottles. Aha! Surely, an appropriate location for such props. I pocketed the bottles, and when I got to the beach, I plunked my toys in the sand and watched them shine in the sunlight.

My mind began to wander beyond the fake rolls of paper in the dollar store containers. What might be written in an actual message tossed into an ocean? Declarations of love? Pleas for help? I imagined it being carried to its landing place by the perpetual currents and waves of the water: the water of life, both literally and metaphorically. Both gentle and wild, both predictable and erratic, both beautiful and vicious. A perilous journey, no doubt.

I thought about the likelihood of a bottle being lost in the depths, or broken on the rocks, or swallowed up by some creature. Or, less likely, swept to safety on the shore. I thought about who might discover it, and what they might do with such a message, and whether they would somehow be changed by this act of fate or coincidence. I thought about the writer’s necessary sliver of hope and lack of expectation in believing that another human being would eventually be at the other end of this improbable attempt at communication. I wondered whether the feelings and facts committed to paper would’ve been altered over the passage of time needed for such a crossing.

Maybe the messages we leave – in bottles or otherwise – are our attempts at affirming our identities and existence. We. Were. Here.

Pictures made, I gently scooped up my bottles, the sand clinging to their smooth sides. Perhaps they served their purpose, and I can pass them on to my kids. Maybe they won’t be interested. But maybe they will. Maybe they, too, will hold those tiny bottles in their hands, peering through the glass, and wondering about the words that might be curled up on those colourful slips of paper.

Get lost.

Hi. I’m still here (hope you are, too). I wanted to share a bit about a book I just finished reading called The Wander Society. The author, Keri Smith, on a visit to a bookstore one day, stumbled upon references to a mysterious group going by the name of – you guessed it – The Wander Society, and this book is the result of her research and reflection.

The Wander Society is an actual secret society whose members value the benefits of wandering (unplanned exploration, usually by foot, usually alone, and usually involving an element of nature) as food for the soul.

I love this.

Well, I probably wouldn’t have thought much of it a few years ago, when I was busy working and parenting tiny children and just generally stumbling from one day to the next, obsessing about my to-do lists and trying unsuccessfully to avoid my depressing news feed. Who has the time to wander? And why?

“To wander is to leave behind the complications of living. You can forget the person you are supposed to be for a time, and become who you truly are – unhindered by duties, obligations, and nagging thoughts. To wander is to access your true self.”

~ Keri Smith, The Wander Society

Since I’ve been fortunate enough to gain some solitary free time while my kids are at school, and to develop a real enjoyment of photography and fresh air, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of random exploration. Some of my favorite photos wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t stumbled upon the scenes or subjects by accident. When I go out with the intention of taking a ‘photo walk,’ I usually park the car somewhere and then ‘get lost’ on foot. Slowing down allows me to open up to really observe the surroundings. Not necessarily having a destination is actually quite liberating, and even good therapy for those of us (*ahem*) with anxiety about all of life’s uncertainties and risks. Wandering allows you to be open and accepting to the unknown. It’s a practice of truly being in the present moment, like meditation. It gives you the time and space to breathe and move and process.

I realize it probably would’ve done me some good in the past to have made time for a good wander now and then, as a method of self-care. These days I still get busy, bothered by my worries, and creatively stuck. Putting one foot in front of the other may not cure all my problems, but it can be a surprisingly mighty antidote.

Check out The Wander Society‘s cryptic website. You might be more confused than intrigued, but I’d still recommend reading Keri Smith’s book. It just might inspire you to lace up your runners.

On that note, this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Favorite Place, and while I have many favorite places, today I’ll choose to share one I discovered yesterday while wandering: this grove of pines, perfectly aligned, row upon row, their slender trunks reaching up to the sky.

Getting lost has its advantages.