I stopped to photograph this Amish farmer getting his field ready for planting and it was such a tender moment that tears came to my eyes. It might have been the near freezing temperature and biting wind, but the scene reminded me of many things.
Time passing so quickly, the changing of the seasons, the beauty of spring and the hard work of these farmers. As the smell of horse manure rose into the air, I thought of the show Green Acres, and Oliver deciding that working with his hands was more important than working as a lawyer in the big city.
I would say that farm livin’ is the life for me, keep Manhattan just give me that countryside. But I don’t like getting muddy, or working in a field all day, or having obsessive photographers standing there taking my picture while I’m trying to do my job.
“In the mirror of your mind all kinds of pictures appear and disappear. Know that they are entirely your own creations, watch them silently come and go. Be alert, but not perturbed. You see the picture, but you are not the picture.” Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
It was 50 degrees and climbing this morning when I headed to Lititz, which has been called the coolest small town in America. The Fire & Ice Festival begins tonight and I wanted to watch them carve the ice sculptures and take some photos.
As usual I got there way too early but eventually they began to massacre the blocks of ice with chainsaws, then use other tools to chisel out amazing detail. There was a large ice chair, a John Deere tractor and this one which will be a newspaper boy.
In hindsight I should have paid more attention to the background, used a very wide aperture, shot in manual and got closer ignoring the ice chips shooting everywhere. I knew they would be carving 72 more sculptures but I had no intention of waiting.
Being a perfectionist bordering on obsessive (see blog name) I have to learn to enjoy the experience, good photo, bad photo or no photo. Author Edmond Mbiaka wrote: “When it comes to perfection, the most that we could possibly do is to continuously push closer and closer to it. It is truly something to aim at, just to see how close you could get to it.”
Many people think alcohol is the best thing man ever invented. Author Henry Lawson even said: “Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer.” And when I started drinking I felt the same way.
I wasn’t really sure if drinking beer was for me, it seemed like it was hard to drink enough, fast enough to be worth the trouble. Then I discovered Vodka and the whole game changed, although I still wasn’t sure I liked the feeling.
But I wanted to give it a fair chance so I drank heavily for the next twenty five years, just to be sure. Simply put, it didn’t work out well and after many tries I quit for good almost fifteen years ago.
Some people can drink a beer or two and stop, something I not only couldn’t do but will never understand. I was the same kind of drinker as the infamous Charles Bukowski who summed it up perfectly: “So where do you go? Back to the bottle And back to a tiny room somewhere. And wait. And wait, and wait. That’s all.”
The Pali word dukkha means suffering and stress and unsatisfactoriness, but it also includes all the minor annoyances of life as well. It’s basically getting what one does not want and not getting what one does want.
I had a chance to see and experience dukkha in several ways this afternoon. There was a hot air balloon preparing to launch and I stopped to take some photos. I could see this was going to take quite a while so I had to leave to find a bathroom and come back.
I watched the crew struggle to drive the van with all the equipment onto the grass but it was too soft and muddy, and they got stuck several times. I spoke to the pilot who was determined to launch no matter what so he could get his certificate, though he was obviously frustrated.
About 45 minutes later they got the balloon hooked up to the basket and set up the fan to inflate it. I felt sorry for this guy as he pulled and pulled but the fan wouldn’t start. It turned out it was out of gas so they filled it up and were back in action.
His crew seemed to have no experience and had to have everything explained to them at least twice, but eventually the balloon was up, up and away and I trudged back through the mud to my car.
Because of the direction the van ended up parking I didn’t have the beautiful late afternoon light, but I tried to get an image I could use that would capture the essence of dukkha.
Novelist Hermann Hesse, author of Siddhartha said: “I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.” Yes.