sidetracked

railway tracks, dandelions

I’ve taken a few weeks off. I haven’t been writing, and for a while I wasn’t even taking any photos. When my short-term job finished at the end of April, my daily schedule dissolved into mush.

And it strikes me that — as much as I like newness and adventure — I need a daily rhythm to ground me. In musical terms, I could improvise to my heart’s content, but without a steady beat to act as counterpoint, creativity becomes chaos. And chaos is confusion, quicksand, energy-sucking distraction.

My partner has started a short-term job, and I needed to clear my desk to make room for her laptop. The dining room table is now covered with the non-essential  papers and peripherals that were cluttering my desk. And I discovered my missing lens cap. And I’ve discovered that I like the look of the desk with just a computer and keyboard, a lamp, a storage drive or two. I like the way it looks clean and non-distracting. It helps me to see where I’m going, to remind me of the tasks I have set for the day, and the long-term goals that will keep me from getting too sidetracked.

And I know I will get sidetracked. It always happens. There be dragons, sloughs of despond and other obstacles along the way. As Ferron sings in “Ain’t Life a Brook”: “Life don’t clickety-clack down a straight-line track, it comes together and it comes apart.”

And then it comes together. Confusion gives way to clarity. Something clicks, and a new adventure begins. And I pick up the camera, and new images inspire new words, and here I am, on track: ready to begin again.

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foggy future

You are on a bridge, looking toward the future. What do you see? Is there a corner, or a window, or a door? Do you know where you are going, and where you’ll end up when you cross that bridge? It’s foggy over there, and if you looked the other direction, toward the past, it will be foggy there, too. You think you can see the present clearly, but it’s foggy where you’re standing as well, although it’s not immediately obvious. Just take a few steps, look back and you’ll see it. And you’ll also see a little farther ahead, each step you take. Don’t rely only on your eyes; use your ears and your sense of touch. Listen to the voice inside you. Follow where your heart leads and all will be well. All will be well. All manner of things will be well.

Taken on August 20, 2010

tracks

I think about why I left, and why I returned. I remember how I felt there was no future here, how there seemed to be few opportunities to learn and grow, to find my feet without everyone looking over my shoulder. Saint John is small enough that people know you, or your dad or your aunt or your second cousin. And I wanted to try being someone different, to try being suave or confident without people remembering my awkward teenage years. So I left, and learned to survive in a big city, where people only see what you can and can’t do, and are willing to take you on face value. And I discovered that I couldn’t really be anyone different than who I was, and that was only one of the lessons that I learned. When I finally returned, I found a different Saint John. I found people with enthusiasm and vision. There is a new energy and new opportunities. And maybe that Saint John was here before, but I had to come back with new eyes to see it.

Taken on June 22, 2010

potash train among the daisies

I love the way the orange train lights up against the blue sky. I love the way the daisies decorate the hill above the train tracks. I love the way Marsh Creek carves channels through the silt that you only see at low tide. I love the view across Courtney Bay in the morning, the sun bright on the water, the fresh day just beginning.

Taken on July 12, 2010

red train

If you follow this road, you will drive by the oil refinery and pass a scattering of lakes and houses and then the airport, perched at the edge of town. If you go left as you head up the hill, you will find a cluster of shopping malls filling the bowl of what was once a primordial lake. If you turn right, you will see Courtney Bay on your right and then drive by the edge of an industrial park. If you turn left just past the tracks, you will pass a strip of fast food joints and car dealerships on the way out toward Rothesay. If you stay here, you can roll down the window, watch the train rolling slowly down the tracks, and enjoy the gift of a few moments when you are not going anywhere at all.

Taken on June 13, 2009