The freedom to imagine

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

Albert Einstein

Sometimes he is Link, a character from The Legend of Zelda, other times he is Oisin (pronounced Ush-een). Sometimes I'm an outgoing professional, other times I'm a burrowing, childlike, introvert. While we are working together, or perhaps playing together would be more accurate, we are each living out our own sense of wonder.

I'm not sure I fully understand this legend, but I know there is a nobility about Link, he is some one who overcomes great odds with little inclination to be a hero. Probably the kind of hero most of us would identify with.

As we climb the hill to Dunhill Castle, Oisin notices a beautiful moth and captures it in a jar. Later he sends my spirit soaring, as he releases it again, into the cool breeze of the Anne Valley below.

We both understand that the world can be harsh and that you would need every weapon in your soul's armory to deal with it all some days. But like so many others, we also share the ability to suspend disbelief, to enter the zone of story and myth, to allow ourselves the freedom to imagine.

We were on location at Dunhill Castle, County Waterford. Thanks to Oisin Hennessy for the concept, role play and wardrobe. See more photos here


Grounded by light and shade

These days I am using a fixed lens (no zooming) and resisting any kind of cropping or editing. This means that when capturing an image you have to be scrupulous about the composition. What you snap is what you get, an "in the moment" photo.

It's good discipline for the eye, and does away with the need for post processing, photoshop and all the rest of it. 

On the other hand I'm also gathering too many photos at once and running out of space on every device, including my cluttered mind!! I came back from the last jaunt with 1,500 shots of Kerry, Dublin, Wicklow and Kilkenny. Overwhelming to sort, maybe one for the long dark evenings of the winter ahead. (Apologies for even mentioning it!)

Home and hearth soothe the busy brain and bring us back down to earth. Detail, shadow and light will do that every time. The alchemy between eye, lens and light.

What's all around you that soothes your busy brain? What small details would you capture from your own space? Try it today with your phone, camera, sketch pad or journal and find yourself instantly grounded! 


Up all night at the Martello Tower

“The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.”
― James Joyce, Ulysses

We spent one night only, camping near the Martello Tower in Sandycove, Dublin. It features in the opening chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses, so they say. 

All night long they came and went, up and down the walkway from Sandycove to the 40 Foot (famous Dublin swimming spot) and back. Swimmers, revellers, beer drinking young ones. As the sun sank behind Dun Laoghaire Town Hall it was all go and there wasn't too much sleep to be had.

At 11.30 PM a woman walking her dog, sat on a nearby wall and sang all of The Parting Glass and the Auld Triangle into the night air. We sat and listened in awe. A wise cracking Dub shouted across to her that she had a fine voice and would she sing some more. Why don't you sing yourself, says the Siren and exits stage left. 
"Trilling, trilling: I dolores.
Peep! Who's in the... peepofgold?
Tink cried to bronze in pity.
And a call, pure, long and throbbing. Longindying call.
Decoy. Soft word. But look! The bright stars fade. O rose! Notes chirruping answer. Castille. The morn is breaking.
Jingle jingle jaunted jingling."
           Episode 11 of Ulysses : Sirens 

Bleary eyed by 5.30 AM, then the early daily swimmers began to arrive. A short dip in the "scrotumtightening sea" lots of chat, the Irish Times under one arm and and a carton a milk under the other. 

It was here 50 years ago that the pink sparkly ball was swept out to sea and rescued by a heroic local. Here, where we learned to swim and perfected the art of putting warm clothes onto damp limbs while gyrating under a towel. "Hmmph that fella!!" was all that was ever said about James Joyce. 

"...she saunters away, plump as a pampered pouter pigeon, humming the duet from Don Giovanni..."
Episode 15 of Ulysses : Circe

More from that jaunted jingling evening in the Night falls in Sandycove Gallery here 


Open heart, cold sea

I checked the sea temperature today. Not much more than 13/14 degrees centigrade anywhere in Ireland. This year the cold sea water was harder to bear. 

By the time we arrive in Kerry our friends are already a couple of weeks into the rhythm of twice daily swims. They glow from endorphins, icy water and warm wine. Dingle is their annual pilgrimage, and a sanctuary away from everything. 

As a brief respite from the awful summer, the sun appears. It calms the icy water and the waves in Coumenoule are a bit less terrifying. I tingle all over from a fair few dunkings and summer holiday happiness. 

On the way back I listen to John O'Donohue talking to Krista Tippett in a re-released interview from 2007. While I always found John hard to read, his lilting voice confirms so much tonight......

"Well, I think it makes a huge difference when you wake in the morning and come out of your house. Whether you believe you are walking into dead geographical location, which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you but in a totally different form. And if you go towards it with an open heart and a real watchful reverence, that you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you. And I think that that was one of the recognitions of the Celtic imagination: that landscape wasn't just matter, but that it was actually alive. What amazes me about landscape, landscape recalls you into a mindful mode of stillness, solitude, and silence where you can truly receive time."


A way of life

Clarissa Pinkola Estes posted a letter for her many fans last week.
 Her book Women who run with the wolves took 20 years and 42 rejection letters to find publication and become one of my all time inspirational books. In the letter she said....

"Stories are medicine. Medicine for the world. Heavy medicine carried by those who have the deep spiritual muscle to carry the medicine, in fact, persons are chosen. It is not a profession. It is a calling. It is not a bunch of images, symbols and 'stories.' It is a way of life."

Today the mousy little rabbit, settled into her usual spot and devoured her favourite flowers. Is being here photographing the ordinary and the everyday a calling? Is the creative process exercising a deep spiritual muscle? Have I been chosen to carry a heavy medicine for the world?

 There were a dozen other lives I almost lived. I'm not sure how I ended up being here instead of ambling down the city streets where I grew up. But here I am, and yes while I can't fully grasp "the calling" I know this is definitely a way of life, that I am home. 

Do you ever feel that you are living out your calling? Is your own practice more than "a bunch of images, symbols, and stories"? Is it your way of life?

This week's gallery is a collection called Inklings