Lens-Artist Challenge # 125: Transitions

Japanese Maple leaf between Fall & Winter.

The challenge for this week’s Lens-Artists is really open, asking us to pick a subject to photograph and tell us what meaning it has for us. Tina chose photographs to illustrate her understanding of Wabi-Sabi, “a Japanese concept that recognizes beauty in the imperfections of life and the natural cycle of growth and decay.” Her photos are really beautiful and are an inspiration, but what really resonated with me is thinking about the natural cycle of growth and decay that can be so beautiful, and sometimes unsettling. Observing this cycle as seasons change frequently gets me thinking about how to capture the beauty in dying and death, in decay and decimation. Frequently my photography fails and my images are boring, but usually there are two or three within a file of 100 that excite me with the beauty of the old, of decay, of the degenerative process.

Decaying rhubarb leaves

I have lived my entire life in Michigan where I integrated the nuances of the changing seasons into my very being. When we live with the drastic distinctions of the visual of the dead of winter, birth in spring, lush growth in summer, and degeneration into death of fall, are we also able to recognize the more subtle transitions between early winter, dead of winter, late winter, early spring, late spring, early summer, dog-days of summer, late summer, etc.? Each has a distinctive temperature feel, scent, landscape, air movement and living activities. Sometimes I will state that something “feels like” a season different than the one we are in – but a know this experience is the exception to what is normal at this time of year. I have noticed that in recent years these “feels like” experiences are becoming more common as a result of global warming.

Azalea leaves of Fall, snow of Winter

I really enjoy the transitions of nature in a temperate climate, where our weather is influenced by both the tropics and the poles (North Pole in the case of Michigan in the northern United States.) The transitions of nature and of our human life give us an opportunity to reflect on what has been and look forward to what might be. Usually, for me, looking back involves memories of happy and sad, success and failure, gain and loss. I have found that I feel mentally healthier when I am able to recognize and embrace all that has been – to gently and humbly accept the painful and joyful as what had to be, given who I am, when and where I have been placed. It seems I need to recognize the impact of both my choices and fate over which I have no choice.

Tender new growth facing the freezing temperatures of Winter

Transitions also kindle the need to look forward – the dread of winter months to come or the anticipation of the flowers of summer to bloom. As I am aging I am learning that I need new skills to navigate this transition between my productive mid-life phase and ultimately my death. I have studied aging and death but was unprepared for how to look to a future that won’t be better, physically, than what is right now. How can I integrate into my self-image the fact that my future may not be something to look forward to. Maybe my remaining years are similar to facing the dead of winter. At this point I am cognizant of this reality but I don’t feel demoralized by it. I just know that I need to find a way to navigate this transition just as I have every other I have made. Stay tuned for the rest of the story as I blog my way through.

31 thoughts on “Lens-Artist Challenge # 125: Transitions

  1. Beautiful photos and thought-provoking text. I too am at the point of recognising that what is to come, physically, is likely to be less good than what I have at present, which in turn is less good than what I once had. I’m trying to learn to appreciate the pluses of more time to enjoy what I love (travelling when not bound down by COVID, photography, time with my husband and with friends, a good film or a good book …) Thank you for sharing your own thoughts on this subject ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. I enjoyed this post – thank you. I especially appreciated these lines:

    I have found that I feel mentally healthier when I am able to recognize and embrace all that has been โ€“ to gently and humbly accept the painful and joyful as what had to be, given who I am, when and where I have been placed.

    So true.

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  3. Gentle, contemplative words and images. I, too, now wonder how to integrate the possibility of having a difficult end to life. Being grateful for the now and the lessons that life has taught up until now, no matter how painful, does seem to make the transition easier. Thank you for reminding me.

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    • My pleasure, J.D. I sat today and gave some thought to how grateful I am in this moment with a body that is working reasonably well and activities that bring meaning to my life. I think we should keep doing what is working for us at this time.

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  4. This is such a beautiful post, Pat. Reflecting what transition means to all of us, because we are all there. Your images are calming and thoughtful, and your words hit were they should. You address the inevitable – but most of us do not want to see it. On our way – there is still much joy and much to discover! Thank you.

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  5. Pingback: Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #126: An Alphabet Challengeโ€“Subjects That Begin with the Letter A. – P.A. Moed

  6. Your photographs are truly wonderful, Pat! As the cold and snow keeps us indoors during the winter months, people often live a more sedentary lifestyle. I’m just slowly adjusting to the seasonal changes. I love being outdoors, but in the winter time, I have to find ways to keep on going. Being gentle with yourself and others can go a long way. Thanks for sharing and have a good day ๐Ÿ˜€ Aiva

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    • My day is going very well, Aiva. I really like your comments. I, too, am having to find ways to keep moving indoors because my body doesn’t like the cold. Maybe we should keep reminding each other to be gentle with ourselves – while still doing what we can to stay healthy.

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  7. (I hit SEND before I finished my reply.) I wanted to add that Tina’s photos have inspired me as well. The transitions she shared and the hunt for beauty in the last stages of life have me looking at nature a bit differently. I hope you are finding comfort in the beauty you share with others, because we appreciate it. And know that all of us are in transition all the time. Thanks for a thoughtful, beautiful post.

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  8. What a truly beautiful and thoughtful post Pat. Your images are wonderful, especially the azaleas in the snow – magical! As for your thought that looking to a future the won’t be better physically, I can appreciate that. But a few years back I bet you’d have been surprised by what a wonderful photographer you’d turn out to be! We may not get physically better but we can be wiser, calmer, more philosophical and more loving. And we can be an example and an inspiration to many who will follow us. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I like your story, Tina. I have been putting together many of these pieces but didn’t connect being frail and being an inspiration. So far the benefits (getting up when I want to, using my time as I want to, coming and going when I want to — well, not with coronavirus) have been equal to the losses. And most of that is due to mental attitude, I think. Anyway, I’m sticking to it with you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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