Time Lapse, Fifteen Years and Counting

asher-collageIt may not be the latest innovation, but TIME LAPSE PHOTOGRAPHY certainly is one of the truly indispensable techniques to come along. Capturing single frames of a scene or a location at constant intervals, then playing them out in a real-time sequence allows us to see a thing take shape in a way that otherwise would be impractical or not possible. No one’s going to sit around and watch a seedling sprout and form into a flower. Camping out across from a construction site to watch a hole in the ground erupt into a 75-story skyscraper would be impracticable.

Yet as inconceivable as that might be in our ordinary lives, time lapse positively has been my near daily experience in watching my daughter grow.

Today, she turns 15, that age when her life is consumed with playing girls volleyball and pop stars whose names I don’t recognize and studying rules of the road I’m ashamed to admit I no longer recall or practically no longer matter to me. But they matter to her now because she wants to pass that driving test; it’s like a right of passage for 15 year-olds.

“That means no left turn,” she tells me as we approach an intersection with the sign displaying a bent left arrow superimposed with a red circle and line through the middle. From the passenger seat she blurts, “Right lane coming to an end.”

“Oh, so that’s what the yellow sign means? Thanks,” I quietly think.

This mundane act of operating an automobile is a thing of fascination, or perhaps mere preoccupation, for my little one as another of her petals comes into bloom. Fifteen years now, I’ve watched with constant amazement as her life’s time lapse plays out before me. Frame by frame I watch her flower blossom.

I remember a toddler charging full tilt into my arms when I’d arrive home. I’d hoist her up, rattle her like one of my sister’s dolls and plant on her lips something we declared “the best kiss in the world!”

Then, there was the plump-legged little dancing girl in the white tights who pointed her toes east and west, held her hands in a loop above her head and mimicked a ballerina’s pose.

And how could I forget the 3 year-old swim student who fought and splashed at Miss Marci to keep from getting her own face wet and plunging into the Y’s pool.

With the lapse of time, that swimmer swims now like a dolphin. The dancer leaps and kicks with grace and precision. And no longer a toddler, the teenager sometimes walks in the other direction when I arrive and her friends are near; the best kiss in the world has been repealed and replaced with an occasional peck on the forehead.

Sweetlet has ascended tall and bright. And the things she once couldn’t do, but always has had the potential to do, she now does even as she gathers more knowledge, skill and confidence.

My one, true delight has been seeing her flower in my garden. And with that some disquiet for sure as 14 turns to 15 and the time lapse flutters rapidly on.

Birds of a Feather: What Your Decision 2016 Vote Says About You

trump-clintonMy daughter’s eyes were beginning to glaze over. Evidently, after a good hour of withstanding my interminable barrage of admonishments and admonitions, she’d had her fill. Clearly, whatever words of mine slipped into her left ear smartly had exited her right one in short order. My last point needed to come right away or be forever lost. So quickly, I shifted gears and cautioned her to, “Watch the company you keep.”

The crowd you run with, I explained, makes a statement about you and often enough speaks in equal volume as anything you personally may do. When someone wants to understand who you are, I instructed, they look not only to your record, but also to whom you call “friend.” Fairly or otherwise, I cautioned, people presume the truth of that time-tested adage: birds of a feather flock together.

It makes sense that we generally befriend folks with whom we share something(s) in common.

That lesson applies to Election Day politics and how we’ve voted today as well. In this election more than many, who we cast our ballot for may speak volumes about who we are and what we individually consider desirable or tolerable. This especially is true of Donald Trump’s supporters.

Because Trump is inexperienced in politics, has never held a political office and repeatedly has proven himself thin on matters of policy and current events, a vote for him is much more an approval of Trump the person than an expression of confidence in his politics. Trump is combustible and bombastic in a way that makes his policy positions secondary.

He is rhetorically racist, xenophobic and misogynistic. He’s abrasive, undisciplined and petty. His politics are corrosive, incendiary and divisive. He’s a master of put-downs and insults.

In the 2016 election cycle, that is how Donald Trump has allowed himself to be portrayed. And that’s okay because he’s only one man. But, what about the rest among us who are just fine with letting Donald be Donald?

What about those who cosign his antics? What about you if you cast your vote today for him?

If you know Trump has been comfortable making racist statements, for example, and you knowingly and voluntarily choose to align with him, well, what does that say about you?

On one hand, someone might reasonably conclude you share Trump’s racist views. Certainly, a substantial chunk of Trump’s support hails from the alt right which believes white identity is under attack. Even worse, groups like the Ku Klux Klan have proudly endorsed Trump saying he speaks their language. Sharing Trump’s racist point of view might explain how someone could vote for him.

But it’s not the only explanation. Casting a vote for Trump doesn’t immediately suggest someone is a racist (or misogynist or xenophobe, etc) themselves.

At a minimum though, it means none of his offenses is in your container of non-negotiables. None of those are non-starters. Not the insults, bullying, racism, misogyny nor xenophobia are extreme enough to be considered deal breakers. You can tolerate any one or all of those long enough to check the box by his name – presumably because none of that directly impacts you.

But, what about your friends who can’t turn a blind eye to that behavior or those beliefs, what do you say to them?

You might say you agree with Trump’s policies and that he’s one heckuva businessman. In that case, however, the facts would challenge you as they show him an inch deep on policy matters, and his business success is dubious.

You could argue it’s all about principles. You could reason – as many conservatives have – that placing Hillary Clinton in office would swing the court to the left and endanger issues you hold dear. That’s reasonable.

However, at the end of the day you still wind up voting for the same guy the Klan loves. At the end of the day, you’re still voting with the Klan. At the end of the day, are those the feathers you want to see flapping around you?

Or would you be better off just getting the flock out of here?

© Copyright 2016, Jonathan Clarke, All rights reserved

Hospital Gown Wisdom: Clear Thinking In an Unclear Moment

Our lives consist of a series of negotiations made between us and others or sometimes simply within ourselves. The latter variety, the ones we make within the confines of our inner selves, provide operational space for us to accomplish tasks, cope with circumstance, make sense of senseless events or pass through life cloaked, undetected and unscathed. We agree in that last instance, for example, to hide away in a lockbox the uncertainties of day-to-day existence along with the someday certainty of non-existence — what we call mortality.

Peek-a-booing our way from one moment to the next, we convince ourselves that what is out of sight truly is out of mind and that all that matters is the temporal, those things we can presently touch and see. But, just as in that age old child’s game, the thing from which we hide waits for us just beyond covered eyes. And every now and again the most healthy play is to uncover and look around to see plainly what’s in view.

My moment of uncovering came a week ago in a hospital ER while waiting for doctors to explain my unexpected visit there. Moments before, I’d arrived in the back of an ambulance which brought me from home after things “just didn’t feel right.”

Fortunately, now I’m well; everything tested normally. But, in those brief moments while you wait for physicians to return with test results, nothing is certain and the broad spectrum of what-ifs that we negotiate from our daily existence become enduring possibilities. Those moments of waiting with an IV start taped to one arm, a BP cuff on the other and diodes all about provide an opportunity to reflect and recapture perspective.
Here are some things I realized as I waited.

1. You don’t realize, until you need to, just how little we say “I love you.” Even for those like me who say it often enough, it’s still never enough.

2. You don’t realize, until you must, just how little say you actually have in the matter until the matter abruptly and definitively thunderbolts into view and reminds you so.

3. You don’t realize how little most things matter until the stuff that truly does pulls up to your driveway with red and blue lights flashing. Precious little rises to the level of urgency and priority we often assign it. Most of those occurrences we daily escalate to matters of life and death truly aren’t that at all. True life and death matters need no announcement card.

4. Why do we so often get so worked up over so little?

5. We live, we learn, we love and then what? Where does the living and loving go when the living and loving are gone?

Where?

6. Whatever belief system you adopt, or whether you adhere to one at all, you’d better be not just comfortable in your beliefs but INFINITELY SO. Don’t merely believe something for the sake of saying you do or convincing others of that capacity, but believe it deeply. How much of what you proclaim are you willing to bet your life on in a moment’s notice?

7. The door steps to heaven or hell are down the block, not down the freeway.

8. Any day you can walk out of a hospital is a good day. Any day you stay out is a better one.

Just some random thoughts from a guy in a gown.