Light Musings Turned Serious

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Sometimes, Bad Things happen. Many of them are accidental, or incidental. Many others are purposeful, vengeful. As we grow older, these aggregated threats to our everyday life make us both more appreciative of the value of life, and also more weary. The challenge is in how we carry the burden, and how we pass it on to our children.

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When I was taking these photos at Duke Gardens in Durham, I planned to write a blog about what a treasure of a garden we have here (and to be sure, we do!). After hearing about the bombs at the Boston Marathon, it’s become something a little bigger. I picked Isaac up from school as usual, and he wanted to go to the duck pond, so off we went. If you ever need some relief from the burdens of the world, follow an energetic child around in a beautiful garden.

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We were carefree, wandering the garden without agenda, map, or schedule. As a lifelong Durham resident, it is all too easy to take for granted this beautiful, serene space near downtown. Sometimes, though, like today, I am fully thankful for the quiet spaces and their ability to transport me away from daily life for a little while.

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It’s these moments that must keep in mind and cling to when those Bad Things happen. There will always be those Bad Things–there’s nothing we can do about them. I don’t believe we should hide from them, or cower in our houses and wait for the sky to fall. I think we should be out appreciating the incredible gift of life that we have, and appreciating all those moments, big and small.

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I’d be lying, of course, if I said I appreciated every moment of my own life. There are the days of lethargy, boredom, despair, depression. But there are also these moments of intensely focused clarity–those moments that you know are important, and then some Bad Thing reminds you just how important that time really is.

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Just as a creative person never really knows which photographs, paintings, or stories will really resonate with folks, so we never really know which moments in life will be the memorable ones. Sometime after we left the gardens, we stopped for an afternoon snack, and I ended up eating pimento cheese. No big thing, really, but sitting there, with my wife and child, the pimento cheese reminded me of my grandmother and grandfather, and brought back many memories of time spent with them. It was a poignant everyday thing. I miss them.

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My afternoon with my family would have been a good day by any measure. I am very fortunate to have so many daily reminders of all the good, and love, and beauty in the world. Humankind has an amazing capacity for cruelty and darkness, to be sure, but also an amazing capacity for compassion, and joy.

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The trick is to cling on to the joy. Really, really hard.



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