How to make a joyful noise

Do what you do best, mix it with the efforts of like-minded people, enjoy what you do, and share it with the world.

Here is a group of some of my favorite musicians:  Taj Mahal, Wynton Marsalis and his band, and Eric Clapton.  And a piece of music that’s been around for a few generations.  But it still rings a chord with us, because it is wrapped with the souls of the performers. Wonderful dynamics. Enjoy.

Where’s home?

Home is where the hearth is.  Here’s an interesting video about dreams, life, passion and home.  Something to cool your eyes and hearts during these hot summer days.  Enjoy.

Paint Branch Creek after a Storm

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
– Ansel Adams

IMG_0097You could say this is my ‘backyard’ in Silver Spring, MD, USA.  I can look out the window and see the stream snaking its way down the valley.  Just a few weeks back, on May 15th to be precise, it was pretty stormy.  The normally placid Paint Branch Stream transformed itself into a roaring river as the storm raged.  The next afternoon as the waters were subsiding I went for a walk.

My thoughts strayed back to February 27th, less than 3 months earlier. It was just a few meters away that I had slipped on ice and fractured my left wrist.  On this day, though, the scene and the invigorating smell of the damp earth and the fresh air reminded me of my home state at the southwestern tip of India.  After the downpours of the hot and humid tropical monsoons of Kerala the earth and air seemed to look and smell the same.  After having endured the sparse, drab, grey and brown vegetation around here due to the prolonged, freezing and tiresome winter this past season, the sight around me now was a feast for my eyes!

I am a photo enthusiast, not a professional.  I love color, texture, and most of all, candid photography.  And what can be more candid than landscapes?  Landscapes don’t turn on fake smiles when you point a camera at them.  My camera is a well-worn Canon Powershot A2000 IS point-and-shoot.  Over its 5-year life it has seen some irresponsible handling.  There’s a slight chip on its lens and its sensor needs a bit of (a lot of, actually) cleaning.  Yet it gave me a beautiful picture.  I cropped it for the dimensions  I wanted.  Enjoy.

A Better Version of Myself

Who am I?  Who do I want to be?

I want to be happy.  Don’t we all?  But what is the source of happiness?  Ancient philosophers tell us that happiness comes from learning and practising virtuous character strengths.  As we grew up our elders have constantly been telling us that character matters – “if wealth is lost, nothing is lost; if health is lost, something is lost; but if character is lost, everything is lost”.

What determines our character? Can character be developed? What are my top 5 strengths?  Can I shape other people’s character? What is the key to human relationships? Who do I admire? Can character strengths be learned and developed? What strengths can help me become what I want to be? How can character strengths be used to improve life around me?  These are questions posed by the narrator (and writer) of a brilliant visual essay, ‘The Science of Character’.  It ends by asking “if you can be a better version of yourself, how do you want to be?”

Watch the 8 minute video on YouTube:

For additional resources to explore the subject of ‘character’ visit:

http://www.letitripple.org/

 

If you are into photography or videography

Here’s something I found interesting.  Thought you might like it too:

Left, right?

I recently saw this message on the electronic sign board in front of a church:

“Give to the Lord what is right, not what is left”.

Unrelated, but it reminded me of a popular song by Johnny Cash:  “The One on the Right is on the Left”.

And here is the man himself:

Here is an older version:

And here are the lyrics – for the die-hard fans:

Whatever happened to the man who slipped on the ice?

There was a book fair going on at the elementary school where my daughter studied.  I had volunteered to help out this morning.  Our car wasn’t free and it was a 40 minute walk along the trail in the woods.  She loved the trail as much as I did, and wanted to accompany me instead of riding her school bus.  It was about 19 degrees F (about -7 degrees C) outside and I made sure she was appropriately dressed as the weather office had warned of dangerously chilly conditions.  But her bus reached its usual pick-up spot just as we neared it.  I urged her to get in as I didn’t want her to risk the cold.

“But I WANT to walk with you!”.

“I know, but it is better for you to go by the bus.  I am not allowed.  Besides, you will be late if you walk with me”.

Very reluctantly she waved goodbye and got into the bus.  I proceeded down the road in the opposite direction towards the trail.  The snow on the trail, the trees beside it, the rocks in the creek, and the chunks of ice flowing in the creek gently deflected the sun’s rays.   Picture perfect.  I stopped for a moment to drink it all in.  I would have preferred to point a camera at the scenes and find out what would turn up, if I wasn’t concerned of arriving late at the school.

I proceeded cautiously with my eyes barely straying from the  ground.  The sun’s relative warmth had  melted some of the snow, but the ice was still treacherous.  A white man in his 60’s wearing a red beanie and orange mittens, jogging in the opposite direction, greeted me with a “Good morning” and passed me.  Was the path safe enough for jogging?  I wasn’t interested in taking any risks, but I had an appointment to keep.  A woman on a cell phone, in front of me, poked the ground with an excuse of a walking stick – what amounted to not more than a 5 feet long twig, as she plodded along slowly.

A few more yards down and the winding road was about to curve sharply and pass over a bridge.. An awful shriek pierced the serenity of the surroundings.  “Are you alright, Sir?”, I heard the lady ask.  I was flat on my back with my sling bag under me.  A sharp pain shot through my left wrist.  I shattered nature’s tranquility, with a loud, hoarse cry once more.

“I’m alright, thank you”, I said and tried to pick myself up.  I couldn’t put any weight on my left hand.  “Could you please help me up?”  I asked, realizing I needed help.  Suspicious if this might be a trap she hesitated for a moment, but the pain on my face must have showed.  She came forward and extended a black hand toward my brown, making sure her feet were firmly grounded.

“This is a tricky stretch”, she said.  “Stay on the snow on the side of the trail.  It is safer”.  As we reached the fork in the road, I thanked her with all my heart.  She turned to the left and I to the right.

I got to the school on time and managed to help with the book fair till noon.  I returned home following the same route, but at a way slower pace.  A fawn, blending in with the brush, stared at me cautiously, it’s mother watching me warily.  There still was much beauty around, but I wasn’t in the mood to soak it in.

There is a slight swelling on my wrist, my back and feet are hurting.  This is my second fall on ice.  The last time was about 5 years ago.  Should I be superstitious?   Right now I just want to find out if I can find any helpful information about the damage and the available solutions.

I flicked open my laptop and clicked on Youtube.  “Slipped on ice”.  What can I find?.  Oh, yes, this looks interesting, “The Man Who Slipped on the Ice”: