August 2008

The last few days I’ve been working on some paperwork for our “friends” at the revenue service. It’s never fun and, no matter how hard you try, you can’t avoid it. Believe me…I’ve tried.

The amazing thing is that once you get it over with you feel so much better. It’s one of those necessary evils and the price we pay to live within our society. I guess compared to most of the rest of the world we come out ahead. Like most Americans I complain about taxes but I also realize that they are a necessary part of our culture. We could do without them…but then we’d eventually become like many of the third world countries. No resources…no infrastructure…none of the benefits that we’ve come to depend upon in our world.

This [preparing my tax return] is too difficult for a mathematician. It takes a philosopher.
Albert Einstein

It’s amazing how often we get things reversed. So often in life we find ourselves concentrating so much on the expedient that we forget the important.

Life seems to be full of conflicts and pressures that it is easy to overlook the critical issues in life. The constant pounding to produce…earn…bring results…finish…excel can easily replace those thoughts in our mind that encourage us to create and seek out efforts of lasting importance.

Most of the time the really important issues are not shoved in front of our faces every few minutes…rather they promoted by that still, small voice in the back of mind that, at best, we struggle to hear through the grind of daily life. Learning to be concious to that whisper is difficult. It is easy to allow the drone of normal activity to make us lose our focus on the valuable and important things.

It is very similar in concept to what I teach in my photography classes. I always tell my students that there are thousands of incredible photographs all around us everyday. We have to learn to develop an eye that is constantly seeking out those images. I find the best way to do that is to regularly reexamine all of those mundane items that we walk past everyday. Learn to see them in new light and from new angles. Learn to appreciate the beauty that is found in the familiar. Actively seek out those items that have become so commonplace to us and spend some time getting reacquainted and energized about them. When that happens suddenly you become aware of wonderful things around you and the world takes on a new shape.

Seeking out activities that are important enough to you to trade your life for takes that same kind of creative searching and constant examination of everything around you.

Is it hard?….yes. Is it time consuming?….somewhat. Is it important?…well we’ve all got only so much time on this earth and we need to realize that we trade some of the time for every activity that we do. I find that thinking along these lines encourages me to spend time wisely and it encourages me seek out functions and activities that have a sense of purpose and value.

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
Sir Winston Churchill

While sorting through some old paperwork tonight I came across a handmade valentine from my daughter. It was small, on purple paper and covered with red markers and silver glitter. She had drawn a heart around her name. It looks like something she would have made when when she was five or six years old. In her little handwriting she had penned,

“I love you when I see you.
My heart comes out.
Happy Valentines
Love Emma”
I had to stop what I was doing for a while to consider this. What a bold and wonderful way of expressing how a little girl feels.Every father always hopes and prays that he can inspire this type of devotion within his children…and especially a little girl.

I guess every dad dreams that he will always be the only man in his daughter’s life. I know that someday she’ll find someone else who will ‘make her heart come out’ and I’ll be relegated to a new role. And that is as it should be.

But at least for now…I’ll cherish where we are and strive to remain worthy of a little girl’s love.

Well it’s official. The dog days of summer have arrived. After 26 years in West Texas I thought I knew something about the heat. I always thought that the “dry heat” versus “damp heat” thing was mostly psychological - but I think I was wrong.

I’ve lived in some hot environments before but never inside a broiler oven. Whew! It’s time to find a cool spot, a tall cold drink, and a way to keep from looking like a lobster. I wanted to quickly retreat to my “Harry Potter Closet” of an office and sit under the fan. (Yes - I actually do maintain an office under the stairs.)

I know it’s hot for the humans, but the dogs have to be feeling it too. Imagine a fur coat that you can’t take off and being dependent upon someone else to make sure that you stayed hydrated and out of the heat as much as possible.

The Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department put on their official Dog Days of Summer Event at Cannonsburgh today. Laura Woods invited me several weeks ago and I promised her that I’d make it. I’m glad that I keep promises because the heat almost drove me back indoors. The dogs honestly seemed to enjoy it. Of course these are animals owned by people who care enough about them to brave the day so that the dogs could have a good time and a social experience. What some people do for their pets. My little Pappillion was grateful that I cared enough about her to let her stay under the A/C and forget the rest.

One young man had taught his little terrier to ride the skateboard with him. After a while the little dog figured how to get a free ride on his own. Don’t let anyone tell you that dogs aren’t smart. It’s fun to watch a boy and his dog. You could sense the love that existed….and it ran both ways.

Overall I’d say that the day was a success. A good time was had by the four legged ones as well as their bi-ped companions. Despite the burdensome heat everyone had a smile on their faces (at least I think it was a smile - a pant can look very similar). Maybe it won’t be so hot during next summer’s dog days.

One of my favorite images from the day was the young daughter of a friend of a friend. She was hot…sleepy…and ready to cool off like the rest of us, however, she seemed to be taking it all in through those dark little eyes.

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