The doggie paddle was the first thing I learned how to do in Cook's Pond, a muddy swim hole in my New Jersey hometown. I dearly wanted to swim with the big boys out to the raft. But keeping my head above water had to be my first priority. The raft would wait. The doggy paddle came before the kick board which came before the breast stroke. I seemed to swallow a lot of water back then. I guess the murky pond was safe. I never did get sick.
Lately, those gulps of fishy, pond water have been on my mind. The massive complexity of today's world has me paddling, sinking, gulping. Thanks to several acts of fate I've been dealing with banks, lawyers, accountants, and government agencies most of the day, every day. Rules. Automated answering systems. Fine print. Press 5 now! The spirit that is my creativity is about five feet underwater.
The other day I realized that I hadn't gone to see my tree in the park since July, right around when all this red tape started. In the mystery of a foggy morning I looked out the window of my studio. I was dealing with a customer service rep for some credit card company. I'd been put on hold. The hold music was bad, I needed to escape. I hung up—credit card issue unresolved—got my camera and went to see the tree.
I play a game with the tree every time I see it. I try to find something new, something compelling, a different perspective. On this day, the light did all the work for me. It was a Venetian mist in my little California town. I made a photo and suddenly my soul emerged from the water like a bobber on a fishing line. Pond water be damned, everything in the world seemed right again.