Reluctantly I climbed aboard the bus, having been envigorated by the crispness of the air and energized by the story I’d photographed. The drive down the canyon to the next spot, by a river, I’d heard, found me deep in meditation. A speed bump gently shook me back to reality and I looked out the window. I noticed the barren trees and brown grass of what looked like a small park. There were large dirt trails on level ground that lead through a kind of brush. When I heard the guide explain we would be here to photograph for two hours I wondered if I’d brought a book. What could I photograph here for two hours? What could I learn in this place that seemed so barren?
When I walked down one of the trails to the river I knew two hours would be too little. So many colors, so many textures, so many angles, so many kinds of lights and shadows. So many possible pictures, each has a story. What they have in common is that they came unexpectedly in a spot that required me to stop and observe and listen to what spoke to me. I would think about what it said another time, even though I did not know at the time that is what I was going to do. I just follow myself, unless I am leading myself, or unless I am on the same page with myself, even if I’m not in the same paragraph.
Along the river I found the unexpected. A clump of grass bent over by the river that obviously had been much higher up the bank than it was on the day I visited. It was the splotch of green amidst all of the brown that attracted me. It was the bending of the blades, bowing to some unseen force, that spoke to me. This was the place for the grass and the grass was tenacious. The grass would bow, but the grass would not yield its place. Older pieces clung to the sand forming a platform so the chlorophyll could touch the sky and provide nourishment. New shoots triumphantly pointing skyward rose phoenix-like from folded blades that had lasted through the river’s rush and roar, holding firmly to place.
Tenacity. A life’s lesson from grass by the river. Hold tight, it speaks. Be the unexpected firmly anchored where you want to be. Use where you’ve been as a platform to reach triumphantly upward. Let the flood pass. You will survive. You will thrive. Life is obvious and not so obvious beauty. Live.