Creative Blogger Award 

Millie Thom from Bringing History to Life nominated me for the Creative Blogger Award and I accept it. I am currently reading Millie’s book Shadow of the Raven, a story of historical fiction set in 9th century England. I cannot wait to finish and pick her brain about bringing such distant history to life. 

  

The first definition of “creative” that came up was “relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” 

ONE: Creating 1874 has been a way to engage in a discourse with my imagination by making things: essays, photographs, paintings, poems, even starting to write a novel (which I have since abandoned, without regret – writing 35,000 words on one topic was an experience.) When I first started 1874, I thought I would want to write a novel but I have gravitated mostly to poetry, photography and visual arts. Today, I realized that I’ve been unwilling to learn the craft of novel writing and have even avoided reading other’s novels for many years. Maybe the path towards original ideas in an artistic work entails doing the regular work after all. 

TWO: Earlier this week a big thunder storm rolled through our area. The rain broke a couple of minutes before the end of my run. The world looked dark and beautiful.

   

      

THREE: Here is a selfie, edited with Enlight and put on canvas. It made me happy to see my work hanging on a wall. 

  
FOURTH: T.E.G. Diez is a pen name. 

FIFTH: We just got back from vacation at the beach and I fell in love with the color blue. 

          

 

The following blogs inspire me to create: Mischief Memoirs, Daily Paintings, Motivating Giraffe, A Meditative Journey with Saldage, Millie Thom, Storyshucker and Qwiklit

duration & disorder 

The other day, it was overcast and I could not see my shadow as I ran. I had not been able to see my shadow in life much in the past days either, I thought. I am my feelings, I am my thoughts, when I am in that way. I trip all over myself without the distance from my thoughts and feelings then. They inhabit me without mercy, without order, like a haunting.   

I though then, I am not the thoughts, I am not the feelings that flow through me. They flow through me and I know I am not them because of their duration and disorder.  

The watcher knows this. The watcher is alive but silent and immobile like an old enormous tree or mountain. The longer the watcher watches ebbs and flows, the pulsing life inside me,  the less convinced I am with the mirage that is ephemeralism (mother of fear). The watcher grows bigger and stronger. A sense of permanence takes root somewhere. In permanence there is primarily order.  

 

The ebb and flow are necessary. They are life. They are telling. The same things keep getting dragged to shore and I learn that love and discipline are the parents of joy and freedom. 

 

The price we pay, we gladly will, for life to explode out into time, along its serpentining thread where only a moment can happen in a moment instead of all at once. That is all it is, the experiment of impermanence: life unrolling along a track in mystery going interminably fast or interminably slow. You choose.  

 

The photograph of the flowers in a vase was taken by me and edited with Instagram filters. The subsequent double and triple images were done using Layout (which allows you to do mirror images and has no seams) and the last image using PicStitch (I could not find another collage app with 12 frames). 

Uphill 

I went running today in the late afternoon.  I usually am not outside at this time of day. The light was great. My run is short and most of it is going up and down hills. It was wonderfully fun. 

 

Seeing my shadow reminds me I exist like others do. It reminds me that there are three parts of me, that like any human my distinct trait is consciousness. 

  
Running quiets my mind and my heart. It frees up space in my mind and energy from my heart. The third part of me, the part that is  aware of the other two parts, can throw off heat. It throws off energy in the form of unbidden thoughts like my body throws off sweat.

  

 To feel physically rooted to this world like a tree, to feel that I am like water in water as my mind and heart move through the world, I can always run towards that.

Dimensions 

As a child, I lived a one-dimensional life. I could not tell the difference between what was me and what was reality, often mistaking one for the other. It was very confusing. It pitted me against the outside world. I had to be always alert to the ever changing landscapes, certain that the living code was to tame the outside world, through understanding or force. 

When I was 27, I started a meditation practice. I started out meditating one minute at a time. Within the year, I realized that there were two independent dimensions within me, my head and my heart. I could recognize each of them as an entity. My head ruled and was power hungry and egotistical. My heart was abandoned and under-nourished. I arrived at this conclusion through the mantra, “I am you.” My mind was telling my heart and my heart was telling my mind that they were the same being, me. My heart started to grow stronger after that. 

There was another startling revelation first arrived at by my mind. If there were two dimensions of me, there had to be three. The third dimension of me was the dimension that was aware of the two other dimensions. It was very quiet that dimension. It was still and sat back and watched the other two, only watched. Its stillness and quiet was startling. My third dimension started to grow stronger after that.

My third dimension is my inherent me, my eternal me, my eternal you. I am learning that it is more me than my own head and my own heart. The more I live in my third dimension, the eye that watches the other two dimensions of me, the more I thrive. My heart still needs much fostering. My head still needs much discipline. That third part of me doles out the love to each of the other two parts like that. 

When I run, it is very hard for me. During this time all the parts of me interact with each other more intensely than usual. A few weeks ago, in an attempt to adjust the volume on my music, I took pictures of my shadow while I was running. I edited one with Enlight and named it the first in the “talking to your shadow” series. In a very two dimensional cartoon-like way, it captures one second of my three parts interacting. 

Nature in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Last week we went to Asheville, a little city in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We took the kids to the Western North Carolina Nature Center to see black bears, coyotes, wolves and cougars. There are other animals too, but my son is specially interested in large predators. The featured image is the flower I thought I saw growing wild along the road between Greenville and Asheville. I will have to ask my mother in law. 

I had my iPhone and could not zoom on the resting cougars. I did the best I could with the photos after. The big cats were pretty lazy and cuddly in the shadows of what ended up being a hot April afternoon. 

   

   

I cannot forget the sheep. Their expressions in the photos make me chuckle. They look, well, sheepish. As though we have walked in on them in their private quarters. Which we had! 

   

 

The first lesson

A proverb is a “simple and concrete saying, popularly known and repeated, that expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity.” Proverbs are handed down generation to generation. The study of proverbs is called paremiology.

Otis Elevator’s friend recently sent me the featured image and the following proverb to accompany it:

When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.

Some attribute the saying to Shakespeare, but I could not confirm it. It looks like it is a Jewish proverb. Shakespeare’s plays have so many truths based on the practical experience of humanity, I am not surprised at the confusion. Shakespeare would have made a great therapist. Many proverbs are biblical and also cultural. I may have to take up a project to find proverbs relating to the parent-child relationship.

Passing on truths based on the practical experience of humanity is something that perhaps our modern dispersed way of living in separate one family units makes challenging. Instead of portals for proverbs conveniently placed along our daily path, we have therapists, social workers, churches. Proverbs strategically deployed throughout the day seems more effective. Perhaps there was an instruction manual for parenting after all under all our layers of modernity. And, maybe it looks nothing like I thought it might. This is lesson #1.

Otis Elevator (Guest Post)

One of the victims of my elevator fainting act read my post. He responded:

I love your article. And, now I remember why I hate elevators.

He then went on to recount, via text, a relationship he has with an elevator named Otis. I asked him whether I could post it on 1874. He agreed and even supplied photographs!


Out of about 15 hospitals I go to, there’s this one elevator at a hospital downtown. I have a weird friendship with him. He’s on the ground level that only employees and delivery people use. He’s in this labyrinth of hallways and other randomly placed elevators. This elevator opens up right in front of the office I make deliveries to, so it is the most strategically [located] one.

Well this hospital and . . . elevator are very old. Most of the other more commonly used elevators have . . . been upgraded but this old fellow remains. When you enter, on the floor right behind the gap of death that falls straight down the shaft, is an aluminum nameplate that says Otis. Undeniably, the manufacturer. However . . . it fits more as this elderly lift’s name.  

 The location of this elevator is down a sketchy hallway that you’d only go down to use Otis if you knew he was there.  

 Those that do have the pleasure of knowing Otis know that he doesn’t work all the time and gets stuck with his doors open on unnecessary floors.  

 Every time I’m walking towards him some random nurse, ambulance driver, helicopter pilot, janitor, or occasional mortician with a corpse let me know, “Hey, that one isn’t working!” To most people this would be a sign to not even try and to walk out of the way to use one of the younger lifts. To me, it’s disrespectful to assume that my dear friend Otis is unable to do what he was built to do. So, I always give him a chance.

Every now and then as I walk up to him there are these doubters who are so impatient they walk away. However, I know Otis takes a little bit longer to close his doors on each floor. His reaction time has slowed. I also know that over time his useful floor indicator lights have gone out. So, out of respect for my elders, I wait and not once has my trusty old friend let me down!  

  

 He’s a real gentleman. He tells you his name as you enter and exit.  

 First name Otis last name Elevator.  

 His floor indicator doesn’t work inside either (Alzheimers).

I’m glad you guys met and saw Otis. Yes, he’s old, dirty and kinda creepy but so are some of the coolest people in the world! Could I use one of the newer units with wood paneling interiors, mirrored ceilings, soft repetitive music, with working indicator lights? I guess I could but I prefer to hang out with my good friend Otis.


Do you have a relationship with an elevator?

Triumph

This is a picture of my son when he was two. He had run away up the hill and returned triumphantly with this rock. 

  

I love that I was the audience for his triumphant procession home.  Triumph means victory but it also means the procession of a victorious general into Rome. He must have felt victory the very moment he found the rock.  But, he would have searched for me or for his dad until he found one of us to share his victory of finding the rock that day. 

I like the definition of triumph as a procession. It is not just victory. It is victory  demonstrated and shared with those who have some meaning to you and relation to your victory. My little guy running home holding his rock in the air was his version of the procession of a victorious general coming home. 

Double Elevators

These are the elevators in the garage of the building where I work. They service three garage floors. They can be impossibly slow sometimes, like today. Though, I did not mind as it gave me time to photograph them. 

The 11 story building where I work is serviced by 2 elevator banks with 6 elevators in each bank. My last bastion of superstition and bizzare behavior  has to do with these elevators. I have gone through periods where I believed that the elevator knew I was there before I pressed the button because the lobby attendant would call it for me with his magical hidden elevator levers if he was happy with me that day. If this seems confusing, it is. It was a split second thought, truly, but one that persisted for years until someone told me there were smart elevators. 

I also get a bit judge-y in the elevator bank. Maybe more like whatever you would call someone who believes in trial by drowning. Superstitious with an edge of impersonating a fire and brimstone deity. Delusional. If someone seems to be racing me to the bank and then the elevator that comes is closer to me than to the huffy puffy fellow then I take that as vindication that I am right and they are  being punished by the universe, through the elevator, for their lack of decorum and general unpleasant behavior in an elevator bank. 

I have a fine line for tolerable behavior in an elevator bank. You must be calm and not rushed, impassive and definitely not overly friendly. If you are overly friendly, I take great offense and the minute I must share the elevator with you I almost hold my breath so as to try to suggest with my very body the level of calm distance that is the only appropriate demeanor in such close quarters. 

Elevators bring something out in me, something irrational and positively medieval. When I lived in Paris, I often took a tiny one person closet type elevator to my room. Now if the elevator is so small that only only two people fit standing face to face, like this one, then in that case, the etiquette is very different. To be distant and aloof would be weird and annoying. You must instead pretend you have fainted around the middle of your trip. The elevator is so small that you can’t actually fall. Your companion will be surprised and hopefully they will laugh. Only do this with someone you are certain will appreciate that kind of thing.