Sunday, August 11, 2013


a work of art
-along the desert trail-

When I first started writing this blog, I decided that I would go out into the desert every day and take a photo of some wilderness scene to be included in my blog. This was one the the best decisions I ever made. My daily quest for a desert photo may enhance the blog, but also it has most certainly been refreshing for my spirit.  My daily search for a new photo is helping me to see the world with fresh new eyes. 

When I go out into the desert, my iPhone camera in hand,  I am always on the lookout for something new, and so I need to be alert and awake in the present moment.  If I daydream or if I am preoccupied with my thoughts, I will miss what is being unveiled to me. 

Generally I walk along the same desert trails every day, and yet when I am awake and alert, I will inevitably find something new - something that I have not yet seen.  After all, the desert is always changing - the shadows cast by the morning sun are so very different from the shadows of sunset. The blooms of desert wildflowers in the spring are very different from the flowers that blossom in the triple digit heat. One day you can look at a bristly cactus and the next day that same cactus is covered with exotic flowers. 

Yesterday, while on my photo quest, I happened to pass by an old dead tree along the trail. I must have passed it a hundred times before; however this time, something caught my eye, and an old dead tree became a work of art. Instead of a dead old tree, I saw branches intricately woven together surrounded by green and yellow desert shrubs. The morning sun was casting brilliant shadows on the dry desert sand -  the blue sky gleaming in the background. Out came my camera and I snapped a photo of this glorious work of art, and then stood in amazement and marveled at the beauty unveiled to me in that moment.

People might read this and think, "Wow, he's a very creative person, I sure couldn't look at that tree and see a work of art." The fact is, we are all creative people and everyone can look at an old dead tree and see a work of art if they want to.

Creativity is all about looking at the same old everyday world and realizing it is never the same old everyday world. Everything and everyone are always new because everything and everyone are always changing. Creativity is all about being present in the moment, without distraction, so that you can see what is being unveiled to you with fresh new eyes.

I came across an article about creativity in a book of Buddhist essays:

Creativity is  limitless. Creativity often seems like an unusual gift that few people are born with or manage to acquire, but creativity is accessible to everyone. It naturally arises from your basic nature when you are open to it.  Creativity is something to be uncovered not something to be wished for. It is not a scarce resource that runs out if you draw on it. Creative possibilities are endless.

In this article the authors suggest that if you want to tap into your creative spirit, the next time it rains, marvel at the raindrops on the window instead of thinking about where you put your umbrella.  

As I think about it, when I go out into the desert on my daily photo quest, I am engaged in a spiritual exercise - the same as if I were silently sitting in my meditation garden practicing the discipline of  "mindfulness"-  awake and aware in the present moment. 

I wouldn't be able to stop and see a dead tree as a work of art unless I was walking "mindfully" - in tune with the ever-changing flow of creation, aware of the moment, awake to possibilities.  

The "practice" of looking for photos has indeed become a good daily practice of "mindfulness," helping me to always be on a quest to see an ever-changing world with fresh new eyes. 

I wonder what work of art will be unveiled to me today? 

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