Saturday, November 08, 2008

It's been a while.
That's all I can say. As I look at how time flies, I realize how fleeting life is. During the past week I attended a conference in Mpumalanga (a province in South Africa). It was incredible to see how many people had cameras. Compare that to 10 years ago --- when film and development were expensive and few pictures were taken.
The scary part is that more pictures often lead to more clutter - and what do we do with our record shots? I remember as a child we used to watch slideshows with an old-fashioned projector that often screeched to a halt when a slide jammed the mechanism because it was slightly skew. Treasured moments.
Treasured because slides were precious and rare.
These day it's so easy to capture a moment - making it much more difficult to treasure.
When I look at how quickly time flies, I realize the importance of taking time to treasure. But it's not often I feel like a tourist in my own life - pausing at the "designated moments," and then hurrying on to the next destination -and when I think about it, I realize that I have to get off the beaten track sometimes.
In order to live, rather than merely passing by -
Before passing on.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It was a misty autumn day. The road was wet and the air fresh. It was just one of those days which makes one appreciate the true wonder of being alive. As I stepped out of the car to take pictures, I was hit by the freshness of being outside. And I realized how we spend our time in front of screens: Windscreens, computer screens, tv screens... We are the screenagers. Sometimes we need to "unscreen". Because we don't live a virtual life. We live a real life.
Nothing can replace the incredible realness of reality. Think about it.

Then go ahead.

Monday, September 22, 2008

He was playing in front of the camera. Jumping up and down, smiling and friendly. His sister was shy. Eventually she decided that it had to be fun. He just seemed to be so happy. So she joined. His hand was comforting, holding hers to reassure her.

I learnt from him that if one really enjoys what one does, others cannot stay away too long. People want to share in the fun that passionate people have. I think it's called the law of attraction in popular literature -
There are always those daring to take chances, who seize the opportunities, those who are not afraid of change or new things, they are the pioneers, but they turn from pioneers into leaders when they hold the hands of the uncertain, often scared followers.
Whenever I work with real leaders, I realize it's about more than pioneering your vision, it's about caring for your people, giving them the greatest gift of all -
Faith in their potential and a helping hand when needed.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Just a quick Saturday morning blog -
One should always try new things, and I am connecting my Photoshop Express trains to this ...
And yes, I don't know whether it will work - but we often don't do things because we don't believe they will work - so hold your breath and watch with me...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This weekend we had a photowalk in Paul Roux. The weather seemed to be heading for "rotten", but we had to push through.
What a privilege when the light eventually appeared.
Some clouds acted as natural diffusers and, in general, we had a great time taking pictures of the kids who walked along.

The great thing about the weather was that those who seriously wanted to be there, were there - is it not true that sometimes we have hurdles for one reason: to find out how seriously we really want something?
Next time you see a hurdle, enjoy its presence, it is an opportunity to test your commitment and willingness to achieve what's on the other side of the hurdle!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

They said there was nothing to photograph.  They said it was a boring country road.  They said it could not work on a misty morning.  
But I went out.
And I took this picture...

Because they are merely voices in my mind.  They are critics without reason.  They are voices of reason in a world of dreams...
They are needed sometimes.
But sometimes we need to listen to the voice of unreason. 
Because all breakthroughs are made by unreasonable people - people who hear other voices, voices that come from deep inside, from forgotten selves - voices that tell them to keep going when it does not make logical sense.
The voices that actually matter - because they are not "theirs", they are "ours".

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The light was harsh. It wasn't the perfect time for taking pictures. I could have said no. There were "thousands" of legitimate reasons not to do it.
As I walked back to the car after the session, I was concerned about what the results would be.
And then, when I opened the pictures on the computer, I found that sometimes we have to ignore the excuses and just do what we want to do -

There will always be excuses, and there will always be opportunities - it's up to us to weigh them ... it's up to us to take action despite the odds.
And then be surprised!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sometimes all we need are the words. Every day we tell ourselves stories. It never stops. The story runs in our heads whenever we interpret something. Whenever we judge or appreciate, we tell ourselves a story that's worthy of judgement or appreciation...
Stories give birth to words, words to thoughts and thoughts to actions... That's not always the sequence though, sometimes thoughts give birth to stories, stories to words... and so it changes, it doesn't matter.
As long as we remember to take charge of our stories by taking charge of our words...Like trees on the water, sometimes we need to reflect on our stories, often to find ourselves in our reflections...

Monday, August 18, 2008

A few years ago, I was assigned to do an article on the power of history. As I walked through a small cemetery with my family, my son kept on asking questions about war and the reason why people kill each other.

This weekend, while watching the movie, Life is Beautiful again, my son asked the same question.
And again, I had no answer.
Wherever I travel with my camera, I want to celebrate life. And so often I find that it's something humankind - (is there still some "kind"-ness or "human"-ity in humans) has not been good at. It's just so sad that so often human beings become the sacrifice in other people's ideologies and powerplays.
And when I think of my son's sincere questions, I want to hug him and tell him the world is not such a bad place.
And then I wonder if I will be lying.
It' s not easy.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Frames are fascinating. They can often make or break a picture. And as human beings we often talk about have a "frame of reference" or a "framework" etc.

So often people "frame" themselves as victims, forgetting that we have a "frame of mind" with which we approach life.

As a photographer, I am consistently looking for frames. One tries to remain aware of the different frames that can be used, like in this picture:

And I have learnt that if I go out with the right frame of mind, the right pictures often appear. So how's your "frames" with which you view life? They are more important than one may think!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

There was a hole in the fence.
The farmer would not like it.
It assisted me with the composition of the photograph.
Someone's frustration is someone else's opportunity.
Just look at your frustrations through the eyes of the opportunist.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Just a normal park.
During the day the kids come to play.
But early in the morning...
It can be eery...
It depends on the mind of the person looking!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This picture is not about the photography...
It's about the thought that came to my mind while taking the picture...
A prayer, I read somewhere...
"O Lord, the ocean is so wide, and my boat is so small..."
We've all got small boats.  
The ocean is wide.
Know where your power comes from.

Monday, August 04, 2008

A landscape photographer's greatest friend?
The sun...
It's the sun that provides the paint - we only have to find the palette
And sometimes the sun seems to be nasty...hiding behind the clouds when we need it...
Not appearing.
And then, when it does show, it's magnificent.
But to create that magnificence, it needs the clouds.
So I had to learn to love the clouds as well - they help me create better pictures in the end.

Friday, August 01, 2008

When "Camera Raw" was introduced, I immediately started using it.
There was the promise of the "power of Raw"  - you would be able to do so much more with
your pictures.
Still, they seemed dull.  The camera had done everything before, now I had to work.
And I had to learn new things!
Now those new things are habits - it was worth all the effort!
The more effort you put in, the greater it becomes...
And the greater it becomes, the less the effort seems to be...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

He was just an old man, on his way to work.
To some it was exactly that - an old man, going to work.
As a photographer, you suddenly see the beauty of it.
Not merely an old man going to work.
A great moment in life.
Magic comes in little parcels called moments.
Appreciate them.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One weekend, while on a photosafari, I took the delegates to stables close by.
We thought the horses would make great pictures.
Somehow, many great pictures were not of the horses
 There were lots of other beautiful things...
So remember, when you're at the stables, don't look only at the horses!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I had the whole frame composed.
Then, as I was about to press the shutter, someone walked into the picture.
Or so I thought.
Luckily, I pressed the shutter.
When I looked at the picture later, I found it was better with the person.
I learnt again - big opportunities are often hidden in those "darn" moments.
So remember, event if the moment seems bad, seize it - it's yours.
Carpe Diem.

Monday, July 28, 2008

For 27 years, Nelson Mandela was in prison to "fight" for his cause:
A few years ago we had elections in South Africa.   
The posters against the lampposts reflected the whole community.
As a kid was walking past, I took this picture.
I wondered whether he knew that someone had "sacrificed" in order for him to be free.
Wherever you are today, celebrate the fact that you are free.
And be grateful.
Someone made a sacrifice for your freedom.  
Make it worthwhile.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I was taking pictures for someone's family album...
Here is one of the girls...

She was comfortable in front of the camera.
So comfortable, it was almost unnatural. (Can it be?)
Then, after the session was over, I followed her to the stables nearby.
When she was "modeling" it was great, but when I caught her "naturally" it was even better.

Nothing beats the beauty of people being who they are.
Go ahead,
Be Real.  
It's beautiful.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I have taken hundreds of shots of this tree.
I love it.
It's a place I used to play at as a child.
And every picture is different.  It changes with the seasons, the weather, the time of day.
It keeps on changing.  Therefore it remains interesting.
And because I'm appreciating the beauty of change, I keep finding great shots.
So, remember, look at life, people and events with fresh eyes.
And you will find beauty.
All the time.
"Seek and you shall find!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

She was camera shy.
I had to take the pictures.  I just let it go, children love to get involved in the world.
So I waited.
And then, she started playing with leaves and acorns.  She opened up to the camera.

We all need to open up to the camera of life.
In the words of the poet:
"To see the world in a grain of sand again."
Go ahead, play.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My camera was stolen.
It happened so fast, I could not believe it.
Worse still, I felt as if I had lost a friend.
My eye just connected with the viewfinder so well, 
my hands new instinctively where the buttons were.
Now she was gone.
After the short term insurance paid out, I got a new one. 
Not the same.
Things just did not "gel" as they used to.  I was blaming the new camera.
Until I read the manual.
Here is the first picture I took after reading the manual.
And I learnt, cameras, like human beings, have all the potential.  It's the owner's duty to unleash it.
So, go ahead, unleash your potential.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sometimes all you need is a chicken.
The light was working beautifully.
The green door and window were balanced so well. It was a great picture by most standards. Colour, balance, composition.
And then the chicken walked in.
It turned an ordinary house into a home.
Sometimes all it takes is a chicken.
Or, put differently...
Little things can make a big difference.

Friday, July 18, 2008

So often kids play "imaginative" games.  My son sometimes believes he is a T-Rex.  He goes into the world of millions of years ago.  He is in another world.  Because he uses the biggest power available to human beings:  
As a photographer, a teacher, a trainer and a dad, I am often astounded by the power of imagination.  Kids use it so much more than adults.  Maybe we (adults) need to take some time between work and chores to give our minds time to play.
"An Imagination workout"
Who knows, it may change the world!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I think it's Virginia Woolf who once, in one of her novels, asked: "What is beauty in its hothouse variety?"

When I took some pictures of Loraine Kriek, the previous year's rag queen, one of the top academic achievers and the leader of the student's council, I again realized that beauty lies in confidence, friendliness and humility. Have these, add a smile, and no matter how old you are, how rich you are or how you are physically built, you will be beautiful.

Remember, God does not create disasters, He creates beauty. Appreciate yours.
And smile!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A great opportunity!  We could go and see steamtrains in action.  
And take pictures!
All because someone had realized that these trains needed to be taken care of, else they would be destroyed.  At Sandstone Estates, near Ficksburg in South Africa, these trains are kept and often used for specific events.  As the trains whistled and huffed past us, I realized that we have a uge obligation to play our part in conserving things that really matter.  
Things which evokes nostalgia.
Things like steamtrains.

Maybe we need to understand that sometimes the pictures are not enough!  It's the conservation of and the caring for "real things" that matter!  
So, what are we doing about our heritage?
It matters.  
If we appreciate where we come from, what shaped us and who we are, then we can face the future with confidence. 
It's after all where the railway track of life is taking us!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I promised my family that I would be taking a walk with them.  And then, while walking, the light just started to gain magic qualities.  Clouds moved in.  I took out my camera.
And I stayed, while they walked on... The last rays of sunlight touched two old willows.
I was hurried to take the shot.  My family was walking away...
One seems to be caught up between choices almost all the time.  
Finding the balance is hellishly hard to do! 
 Yes, I did catch up with them, and they did forgive me for keeping only part of my promise.  
And I was reminded again that we are striving to be happy and to keep others happy, but it's not as easy as it seems.  
We all make choices, sometimes right, sometimes wrong, and sometimes we don't even know whether we are right or wrong.  
Just remember, no one has a 100% success rate.  So if you succeed be grateful, if you fail, learn from it.  
Never have regrets, rather have memories.  
Regrets hurt.  Memories teach.
The choice is yours.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Just after work, I went to take some pictures at a local school.  Grey College.  One thing that stood out was the respect and pride of the kids.  They all got up and greeted as I walked along.  And it was not about me, I realized, it was about them
Respecting people you don't know (and do know), makes you a better person.  
 No wonder the school has produced so many great South African sportsmen.  Pride and respect are the foundations of greatness.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It was cold and misty.  And I did not even know whether there would be enough light.  Still, I was out there "hoping" for some pictures.  Against all odds.  Who, but a completely insane photographer would be out there on a morning like this?
Well, it seems I was not the only one...
As they jogged past, I turned and took the picture.  And I thought about the fact that maybe, just maybe, the so-called insane ones have the most fun in life.
So follow your heart.
Do something with the insane ones - it turns miserable moments into magic!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

So often, as a photographer, one wants the perfect moment and the perfect light.  Then you also look for the right equipment etc... 
I am often reminded that life is not always about all the "perfect" tools, perfect composition and perfect light.
 This picture was taken without thinking of the "artistic" side.  Because the art was in the moment, in the person.  You see, it's my son - an angel falling asleep...and so beautiful.  He had a great day...
And having great days is what life's about...  No one lives a perfect life, but great moments are all around us... and to make them one's own does not require skill or education...
Only appreciation.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Ever wondered about reflection?  Well, when you think about it, it's all about taking the time to stand still.  As a photographer I always find reflections fascinating.  They happen all the time!  In life, it's difficult to make time and take time to reflect.  

 Jim Collins says there are windows and mirrors.  When there is a crisis, some people look through the window and find someone to blame.  Greatness is about looking in the mirror, and then reflecting on what can be done, as the buck stops with the great leader...
Reflect on it...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The other day, I went onto some websites.  The "searchword" was art.  I must honestly say, it was disturbing to see how many "dark and depressing" things there were.  And I thought to myself, have we lost the art of appreciating real, simple beauty?  My dad used to say that we needed more "bad art" against our walls, more "bad music" in our homes.  Then he explained what he meant. ' We need more pictures drawn by our own kids against the walls.  Watercolor blots from pre-schoolers, songs from dads in showers, you know, the stuff of life."  So today I share this picture.

It's one of my friends and his wife.  Just walking.  Just loving.
Just living.
Do we need more?

Monday, June 30, 2008

As I drove to Vosburg, a little town in the Karoo, I still felt "a bit hurried".  It seems to come with modern life.  You know, the busy-ness of business.  After walking through the town during the afternoon, before my presentation, I just started switching off.  The pace of the town, if it can be called a pace, was just so slow.  So present.  So real.
And because I slowed down, the day spent there felt like a long holiday...
So when I drove back, I had time to watch the clouds.  I took the time to stop.  It's my time anyway, is it not?
And I found this...

So, where are the small times of your mind?
Do you visit them often?
If not, make time, it's worth it, every second of it.
Like life.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This week we were on holiday. Family camp. This meant no-camera-dad-please. Or so I think. So, I packed them away. On Tuesday morning I went fishing with my son. Long walk. No fish.

Bonding time...
And I learnt the value of an empty frame...

After an hour I realised that we had to go back. We had prior arrangements. When I told him, he was angry, really angry. So, here we were. Finding time together to have fun and now, suddenly, I was on the verge of family war.

Then I remembered what Stephen Covey teaches.

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

So I kept quiet. Long. Just walking in the water with him. Present and supportive but waiting. You cannot peacefully negotiate with a six-year old.
Then he turned.

"Let's go, dad, nothing here."

We walked back together. In peace. Father and son. No cameras, no business. Just us.

That matters.

And yes, there will be conflict. People are complicated, but I hope that I will remember to keep listening without any presuppositions or argument. (You know, just listening, not re-loading :-)).

Yes, sometimes it helps to have nothing in the frame...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The difference between winners and losers?
That’s a question that’s so often been podered and discussed. Winners seem to have it so easy, but maybe it’s because we only notice them when they start winning! No one notices them when they are trying “just one more time,” where others have given up…
And we all have the potential to “try one more time…” We have had it since we were kids.
Just look at my son and his friend:

We told them the museum was closed. It was after 17:00 on a Sunday afternoon. But they still wanted to check. We need to be more like kids, (a bit disobedient :-) and not give up if there seems to be a glimpse of a chance...

Never let anyone tell you not to try. If it’s worth trying, keep on trying… if it’s not worth trying, find something that is worth trying.

* A great book on the power of effort as well as the power of knowing when to quit is Seth Godin’s The Dip.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Just think about it. Who has been your most serious, most devastating critic in life?

Probably you.

As I was out taking pictures one morning, there was a guard. I don't know what he was taking care of, but it made me think. If there's a guard, there must be something dangerous. And if there is no guard, you are not protected from danger.

Many years ago, when I was studying English Literature, I learnt that whenever knights/heroes went on a quest, there was always a guard, trying to keep them from entering the realm of the unknown. Once you got past the guards, you suddenly found guides. Sometimes these guides were magicians, like Merlin.
So what am I trying to say?
Well, in our minds the guard is our so-called Inner Critic. When you want to do something great, the guard will come with questions such as: "Who do you think you are, to try and achieve this?"
And so often that little voice inside our heads is enough to make us decide not to go on.
What a pity.
There are greatness awaiting us if we can get past the guard. There are guides you will find when you enter the realm of Potential and Possibility...
So, what are you doing? Listening to the guard or looking for the guide?
It's up to you....

Ps. My friend Charles Cock gave me the wonderful book, Synchronicity - The Inner Path of Leadership, by Joseph Jaworski. In the book, Jaworski shows how when you start doing great things, great people come along to make it happen...
Guides, I call them!
So, beat the guards and find the guides!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins distinguishes between good and great leaders. And yes, we are all leaders. We all lead lives, don’t we?
Well, Collins also comes to the conclusion that great leaders have a sense of humility, but they are also proud. Because they are proud, they aspire to greatness, and because they are humble, they understand that greatness is not dependant on themselves only.
Is it not like sunflowers?

Ever notice that sunflowers are like great leaders. They look up at the sun, they smile, they live, they bring their colour into our world.
The moment their heads get too big, they droop.
And that is the balance we need to find, a balance which is so well explained by the National Geographic photographer, Dewitt Jones, when he says we need to be the best for the world, it’s so much more important than being the best in the world...
When I think of the great gift of life that we have, I wonder why there are so many people out there, suffering from depression, hurting because of what they perceive life to be, and crying because there’s too much sadness.
Why are even kids breaking down?
The psychologist I asked just smiled. “ I don’t have all the answers. But if I can make one recommendation, we need more sun, more sand, more exercise." More of what comes naturally and less of what is bought. The free stuff nature gives, that is the great stuff.
And I looked at a picture I took of a little girl a few weeks before.

There she was, wind in her hair, rays of sunlight playing above her as she scooped some sand into a bucket. All the natural elements were playing with her. They want to play with each of us. Why is it that we find it so difficult to go out and play. Why is it that we so often trade the great opportunities in life for mere good opportunities?

Whenever I see the picture above, I remind myself that we can take a break any time. The boy who was playing the part of Gabriel at the school's nativity play was supposed to announce that Mary was going to have a baby. As the audience turned to him, he was taking a break! We do not want to wake up in an ICU unit somewhere, having survived our first heart attack.
We don’t want the cardiologist to be the first person to tell us to slow down.
Like Gabriel at that nativity play, we need to realize that it’s our right to take a break, even if everything seems really important, even if everybody says it’s crucial – yes, finish the game, but don’t start the next game immediately. You cannot recuperate from 50 weeks’ stress by spending two weeks away. It’s the little breaks, some even five minutes only, which give us the power to keep using ourselves up in living, not in dying.
Take it, you deserve it!
These pictures were taken on the road to our farm.

Whenever I travel on this road to the farm, I am reminded of a specific weekend.
My dad was 78 years old and suffering from diabetes. After my mother had passed away, he stayed on the farm alone. With time came the regular ailments that haunts one during old age. Dad’s generation however have been a tremendously strong generation, often standing with legs stretched on both sides of the grave they escaped the grim reaper’s sword through sheer determination.
That weekend, it was different.
On Sunday afternoon we were supposed to go back home. My wife and I decided to stay a bit longer. It was just gut feel. Dad looked really really tired.
Dad always told us that he wanted to be “thoroughly used up” when he died. It was from a quote by Bernard Shaw,which he had read long before. Well, he looked really "used up" on that Sunday afternoon.
On Monday morning I went to his room early. He was lying on his bed. As I entered, he pulled himself upright against the cushions. His eyes were tired but there were still sparkle in them. “Dad, we’ve come to say goodbye,” I said.
“I’ll come and say goodbye at the back door.”
“But dad, you can hardly walk...”
“I won’t say goodbye to my grandchildren from a bed. I don’t want them to remember an ill old man. No, I’m coming to the door.”
“But dad...”
“Simon!!...” he called. As if from nowhere Simon was there. He knew what dad wanted. Like a trained nurse the strong, sinewy farm worker put his arm gently under dad’s arms and lifted him from the bed. Dad thought he was walking. His legs moved forward, but Simon kept him ever so slightly in the air. And then a moment I’ll never forget.
Simon looked down at dad. Whether it was encouragement or mere conversation, I don’t know. But as he looked at dad, he commented: “The old man is getting strong.” And at that moment I realized that being strong and being thoroughly used up is exactly the same thing. As dad arrived at the back door, courtesy of Simon’s strong arms, he waved to the kids. Then he asked Simon to assist him in going to the rainfall indicator. As he turned, we drove away.
That was the last time I saw my dad alive.
That night my brother knocked on our bedroom window. As I woke up and heard him, I had one question. “Is it dad?”“Yes,” he replied. “Dad has passed away.”He was used up, I thought. What a legacy.
Every time I travel the road to the farm, I remember the motto. It becomes a responsibility. My responsibility. To be thoroughly used up when I die. To laugh as much as I can, to appreciate as much as I can, to live as fully as I can. And to take breaks as often as I can.
An more about breaks next time... :-)
Simon used to work on our farm for 27 years. He was my dad’s right hand through thick and thin. One morning, as I was walking on the farm, Simon was herding the cattle away from the milk shed. I took this picture.

The picture did not quite appeal to me. But for some reason it found it’s way onto a portfolio which I sent to a local newspaper. Imagine my surprise when it was put on the front page. But even more, imagine Simon’s surprise! After being a farm labourer for 27 years, here he was. Front page. When he told me about the experience, he could not stop smiling. And he did not want to tell me everything as he was a “bit shy”. So I only understood the power of the picture after talking to his mother who told me that the locals hadha: “put Simon on their shoulders and ran through the streets with him.” Now I never got paid for that picture. I am an amateur you see. But I am so glad, because there is no compensation that can compete with the benefit I got out of making someone’s day. Try it, it’s worth more than gold. Especially if that someone is someone who has been with the family through the most difficult times, on the journey of life.

A journey which took me on the road to the farm so many times...
There is a town called Upington, 600 kilometres away from my hometown. As part of my job, I often have to go there. It can probably be rated as the “most empty” 600km in South Africa. There is nothing, and as you drive along, there is more and more nothing...:-)
Especially if you’re a photographer.
When there are thunderstorms, all of a sudden things change.

The sky is painted with pink and purple hues. The landscape turns into yellow expectation and the camera finds it’s way out of the glove compartment. Because there is drama.
Is life not like that?
Is it not the drama of life that makes it worth living? Is it not true that eagles fly higher because they chase the thunderstorms? Unlike ostriches that hide their heads in the sand when crises come, eagles approach those crises with zest and ensure that those thunderstorms make them fly higher than any other birds. Some birds never fly high, they don’t grow through the drama, the effort and the wonder of being challenged by circumstance and then challenging those circumstances! So next time the storm clouds of life come thundering over the horizon, look them square in the eye, face them and grow. That’s the stuff life is made of. And when you grow, you have so much more to give...
Well, speaking of giving...
Next blog will have more on that :-)
These days one of the skills that we really need to have is something called appreciation... Appreciating what we have, appreciating every moment.
Like these two boys...

They were out there. Fishing. For two and a half hours, I watched them. They were just fishing. And they did not catch a thing. Yet they were enjoying every moment of it! Because they were living in the moment. Kids live in the present. The future may be a promise, from the past we may select memories as gifts, but there is no gift such as the present. Is that not why we call it the present?

But it’s a gift we often find so difficult to open.
Just have a look at us. We type away on keyboards while talking on our mobile phones. We seem to be listening to people, but when text messages arrive, we move into other conversations, away from where we are. Sometimes when we are at work, we think about our families, and too often when we are with our families, we think about work. We never seem to be where we are. Our minds are often drifting in an attention deficit world.
Unlike these boys. They are where they are, they are who they are, and they never complain that life seems to be passing them by. We were all there once, maybe it’s a place we can visit again?

And talking about visits...
More on the next post :-)
My first memory of an attempt at art is about having to draw a mother’s day card. I was in pre-primary school. As I was drawing, I looked at the cards that the other kids were creating. I could clearly see their subjects. They were drawing families with cars, dogs and cats. As I looked down at what I had been drawing, I saw abstract shapeless lines. Had my teacher been clever, I could have become rich as an abstract artist. Unfortunately, she was more of a realist than I was (and am). Despite my inability to draw properly, I must say that I have learnt the art of appreciating art. I appreciate music.
And I appreciate the fact that we were all created in the image of a Creator, therefore, we are all creative!
And yes, it’s not difficult to become an artist once you can appreciate beauty. The above is just a normal picture of people hanging clothes on a washing line. I asked Photoshop to frame it and turn it into an oil painting. Easy. All we need is the time to be appreciative...Being able to see the moment for what it is...
My dad had a philosophy he picked up from some book, and he used to share it with us so often. I quote dad, although I know he was not the original author, but I still hear his voice so clearly: ”When opportunity knocks, you must jump, and you never know when opportunity is knocking, so you must keep on jumping!” Well, I saw it so clearly one morning when I went out to take some pictures on our farm. As the sun was getting higher, it was throwing beautiful shafts of light over the road. Yet, there was nothing to photograph. So here I was, looking through the viewfinder, trying to compose something out of the opportunity. Still, I lacked a subject. Something to complete the picture. And then, as if from nowhere, the herdboys were bringing the sheep in my direction!
I got this shot.

Had I not been there, I would never have had the opportunity.
There are so many reasons I could have missed the shot... A famous saying by Abraham Lincoln goes something like this: “ I shall study and prepare, so that when the time come, I shall be ready.” In Henry V, Shakespeare has Henry say: “All things are ready, if our minds be so”. Are you ready for great opportunities? Are you ready to have greatness come into your life? Well, if not, when will you be? You need to understand that readiness is not an art, it’s an opportunity. Not all of us are artists in the perceived sense of the word, yet, opportunity comes to those who appreciate and prepare, not to those who procrastinate and criticize. It’s all about art, I think, though I am no great artist myself...

Next time, more on that...