Archive

Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Moth

December 28, 2014 8 comments

It seemed too warm and too early for snow. But, from my window, I see it falling in the night light of a streetlamp. Leonard Cohen’s The Traitor is playing in the background.

The song, Cohen says, is about the feeling we have of betraying some mission we believed we were mandated to fulfill, but unable to fulfill; then coming to understand that the real mandate was not to fulfill it; and the deep courage was to stand guiltless in the predicament in which you found yourself.

The snowflakes remind me of moths surrounding the streetlight in a flutter of wings. Lepidopterists say moths are positively phototactic, which means if you turn on a light, they’ll head for it. There is no explanation for this phenomenon, only theories.

Moths might use the light as a reference point, moving towards it to adjust their flight position by maintaining a constant angle relative to the light source. The circling behavior may be caused by a visual distortion common to sighted creatures, called a Mach band. The band is the region surrounding a bright light, in the darkest part of the sky. Moths might be attracted to the band because they seek the cover of darkness for safety as they circle the light until they can navigate away from it. This path is disorienting, pulling them close to the light. It’s a coin toss spiral to freedom or fiery doom.

I’m thinking about moths, missions, snow, listening to Cohen’s words, “…On the battlefields from here to Barcelona, I’m listed with the enemies of love…” The soldier’s military duty is his mandate, but he is pulled off course, war nerves perhaps, seeking refuge, surrendering to desire, knowing the cost of his path.

Love and war. Lust and duty.
We can anthropomorphize moths to a flame, though no moth measured longing against reason. No moth fanned a smoldering desire, felt guilt, guiltless, or asked forgiveness.

The soldier says, “Should rumor of a shabby ending reach you, it was half my fault and half the atmosphere.” That bright light. We understand it, and know its attraction. It calls us away from where we believe we should be. We’ve been flying into the tail lights, under the truth

With our mission failed and unfulfilled, we are light warriors. We may be traitors to our own war, but we head for that light, blinded by it, burned out and burned up by it. Then again, we may be blessed and unburdened by it. Our failure becomes our freedom.

In the dark of night, on a country porch or outside a city window, a light goes on. The pull towards it, and away from everything else, may be your truest mission. May you have the deep courage to stand guiltless, fearless. Get stuck, get scorched, get saved.

Toni Tan

 

Advertisements

Abscission

October 24, 2014 5 comments

©Toni Tan

I see it, a story told in the ephemeral nature of color. It’s impossible not to look, but I close my eyes, and listen. It’s the sound of change. Autumn calling out in its rustling and rain of leaves when the wind blows. I want to remember it. Not just see it, but feel it. On a fall day enveloped in grey mist, a flash of red leaves will interrupt the fog, burning through the space. On a brighter autumn day, sunshine moving through the leaves is as illuminating as enlightenment.

Change is forever our status. Fluidity in time and space, the flow of the circle. We don’t think about change, but sometimes something shakes you into awareness: a birth, a death, or the brief and brilliant leaves coming loose from their branches.

This is part of the cyclical design. Trees are actively cutting off their leaves in a survival process: abscission. As days of autumn fade into cold temps and less sunlight, trees reabsorb nutrients from their leaves. This includes chlorophyll and deprived of it, leafy greenness gives way to color. The leaf shedding allows trees to pull in energy and get through winter. It is a cycle of conservation. And sacrifice. The trees grow new skin over every spot where a leaf once was. The trees will live. The leaves will not, but they are making a grand exit.

Nature shows us tangible, real-time change. Change endlessly seeking balance. Here’s a truth about nature, from the Tao: “heaven and earth are ruthless.” Sometimes brutal. Sometimes bittersweet. Life bulldozes through its bleakness – its broken rocks and its broken hearts and its bankruptcy. It’s a dusty path that leads to more busted rocks and broken hearts. More loss. Loss and gain. Gain too, because it’s a green path as well. Life dances through its brightness – its beauty and its bounty. Hearts and moons waxing to full, emptying, filling. A spectrum from bleak to bright.

Energy is always moving. A seed planted, a harvest reaped. Growth, decay, growth. A mended fence. A broken window. Repair. Despair. Gain. Loss. Life. The ever evolving permutation of things swirling in the yin yang pinwheel. We live, survive, thrive, fail, fly.

There’s a red arrow on the map: You are here on this autumn day. And everything is changing. The leaves animate the space. Vivid. Vibrant. Radiant. For now.

Toni Tan

Tears of A Bud

tear of the bud

It was winter, with trees asleep and dreaming of spring. In the cold and quiet of morning, the sun-warmed icy branches bloomed with drops of water. I took the shot.

The artist and painter, Philippe Pherivong, saw my photo, and called the image “the tears of a bud.”

The phrasing, more than the image, reminded me that where there is life, there is movement. Even in what appears to be stillness. Even though you feel you are waiting. Process is the path of living things. Change. Growth. Life is the glorious and bittersweet unfolding of continuous becoming. The tears of a bud waiting to be born.

Visit me on Zenfolio and Behance

Fog

February 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Brooklyn


The fog rolls in over the water, spilling onto the pier. It spreads like thick smoke. More mystical than eerie, I lean in. I find myself lost in it, clouded by it, surrounded by it. Every edge of a safe and familiar corner blurs, disorients. More curious than circumspect, I trust the space. I trust my intuition. With zen navigation, I move through it. The sun insinuates itself, in pursuit of the foggy droplets, at times, piercing the veil. ~Toni

See more of my photography, and purchase prints on Zenfolio

tree and fog

After The Hurricane

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment


Heaven and earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs;
the sage is ruthless, and treats the people as straw dogs… ~Tao Te Ching

Hurricane Sandy came ashore in the night. The moon and the tide helped her.
She brought the waters up over the banks and into the streets. She moved with reckless abandon, took what she wanted, slinking back into the sea.

In the morning light, damage done, we surveyed the landscape — a place filled with broken glass, broken hearts, and broken dreams. Some lost everything. We cried, cleaned up, managed. This one image, a table flung far from it’s home, evoked the feeling of our grace and endurance at the mercy of nature…

The spirit of the valley never dies. ~Tao Te Ching

storm table

More of my images of Hurricane Sandy

Autumn Reflection and The Tao

October 7, 2012 2 comments

Some fall thoughts on the Tao and water over fire…Rest here, breathe.

Ocean Sunset

July 26, 2012 4 comments

The natural beauty and aesthetic of evening’s arrival. Visit us at TanDao Wellness for more!