Perfection contained in a long, leisurely walk.

Walking on the beach north of the Imperial Beach pier.
Walking on the beach north of the Imperial Beach pier.

Nothing feels more perfect than a long walk. A long, easy walk to anywhere.

No matter which path feet follow, which direction your head turns, to walk is to feel refreshingly alive.

With every step, the world’s infinite complexity is revealed page by page. When eyes are open and the mind is keen, the strides are through endless wonder.

That first step. That deep, expansive breath of new air. The stretching out of limbs. A touch of warmth or chill on your face. Eyes lifted to the horizon, expectant.

Joy mounting with every stride as senses register a million familiar proofs of the world’s essential beauty.

The smells from near and far.  Mown grass, the salty ocean, rain-wet asphalt, piney hills, a jasmine bush on a corner, sun-baked dirt, perfume from a cafe.

Kaleidoscope visions through which you simply, happily flow. The infinite detail of reflected light, dazzling your eyes. Patterns of leaves. Patterns of shadow. Patterns of neighbors and bustle and streets. The patterns of humanity.

And every gradation of daylight. Every blue and every green that nature supplies. A complete riot of color on painted things. Rainbows on buildings, signs, cars, jackets, socks. The whole spectrum of color, if only you see it. A trillion, trillion buzzing atoms encompass you, if only you see them. The awesome visual geometry of angles, form and depth. It’s all before and around you.

The smallest object encountered during a thoughtful walk is a self-contained universe. Even a lone bit of windblown trash is beautiful, in perhaps a thousand different ways. With a microscope you couldn’t unravel its potent mysteries. Who made it? How was it made? Where did it come from, and where’s it headed? For a moment the walker shares the world closely with surprising and mysterious companions: a bird, a grasshopper, a motorist, another walker. We all travel alone but together, encountering our own unique wonders, creating through sheer muscle and chance our historic voyages of discovery.

I want to go exploring today. I suppose I’ll just start out my door.

Got to put on my shoes… Bye!

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Balloons, wings, stars and the wisdom of Seuss.

Panda with star on belly is lifted by colorful balloons, and floats away into the blue sky.
Panda with star on belly is lifted by colorful balloons, and floats away into the blue sky.

No matter how different people might appear, we all live among the same bright stars.

Perhaps that’s a bit of wisdom inferred from a book by one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss.

That also seems to be the elevating message of this cool street art in Bankers Hill.

While words and art might eventually fade (as these photos prove), the stars buried within us do not.

These three transformer boxes in Bankers Hill are painted with unbounded imagination.
These three transformer boxes in Bankers Hill are painted with unbounded imagination.
Jazzy guy plays keyboard in a boat that soars above the surf and a star-bellied bird.
Jazzy guy plays keyboard in a boat that soars above the surf and a star-bellied bird.
Flowers in hair, on shoulders. A golden star joins the sun and sunflower in symbolic street art.
Flowers in hair, on shoulders. A golden star on a dress joins the sun and sunflower in symbolic street art.
Part of faded Dr. Seuss verse. That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether they had one, or not, upon thars.
Part of slowly fading Dr. Seuss verse: “That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether they had one, or not, upon thars.”
Winged angel dog in heaven plays a drum.
Winged angel dog in heaven plays a drum.
Silly green-headed alien frolics on red planet.
Happy, unique green alien frolics on red planet.
Musician in cool sunglasses plays guitar where he stands in the cosmos.
Musician plays his guitar where he stands in the cosmos.
A zany peek over Mars, under stars.
A zany peek over Mars, under stars.

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Chalk voices: strong feeling and thought.

This bright, smiling chalk face is gifted with a third eye.
This bright, smiling chalk face is gifted with a third eye.

In downtown San Diego, across the street from the New Children’s Museum, right next to the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade, you’ll find a play area. You might have seen my blog post on Christmas about The Garden Project. The play area can be found right next to it.

Strangely, this playground doesn’t contain many swings or happy things to play on. It does include a wide concrete floor and a high, blank concrete wall, however. Which combine to make an inviting canvas. The hard surface is softened with faces, hearts, strong feeling and thought. The voices of youth.

Here is what I photographed yesterday morning. Many of the ever-changing chalk images are faint. I had to increase the contrast for most pics quite a bit.

Multi-colored face seems to be in deep thought.
Many-colored chalk face appears to be in deep thought.
An uncertain heart. No way. Yes way.
An uncertain heart. No way? Yes way?
This large blue eye seems to stare out from the blank concrete wall.
A large blue eye seems to stare from a hard concrete wall.
I wish you could see the world through my eyes!
I wish you could see the world through my eyes!
A small pink face with long hair gazes up from underfoot.
A small pink face with long hair gazes up from underfoot.
A burst of joy. WELCOME HOME
A burst of sudden joy. WELCOME HOME
A young person worries: Can't you see me?
A young person worries: Can’t you see me?
These words contain agony with a sad nod of wisdom.
These words contain terrible agony with a sad nod of wisdom.
Guy cleaning the play area in the early morning with a noisy blower.
Guy cleaning the play area in the early morning with a noisy blower.
A small delicate flower made of temporary dust.
A small delicate flower made of temporary dust.
Written carefully and meaningfully: Embrace The Journey.
Philosophy written carefully, meaningfully: Embrace The Journey.

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When all seems lost and life feels hopeless.

Sheila's Perfume
One of countless flowers.

When all seems lost and life feels hopeless…

find a purpose.

Find a purpose that is larger than your trouble.

Dedicate each day to that purpose, that great good.

Uplift others. Propagate love. Oppose what is wrong. Discover truth. Create new beauty. Voice what is worthy. Share your gifts. Send ripples of generosity into the future. Do an unselfish thing.

Choose.

Once your purpose is found, think of little else.

You will gain everything.

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International Day of Happiness in San Diego!

Hugging rather than shaking hands.
Hugging rather than shaking hands.

Today is the International Day of Happiness! Happy thoughts and deeds were underway in downtown San Diego this morning, just outside Horton Plaza. I swung on by to check things out!

International Day of Happiness in San Diego at Horton Plaza.
International Day of Happiness in San Diego at Horton Plaza.
Early morning vows of how people will make the world a more happy place.
Early morning vows of how people will make the world a more happy place.
Smiling at my kids more.
Smiling at my kids more.
Smiling and saying hi to everyone I pass by today.
Smiling and saying hi to everyone I pass by today.
Sharing my lunch with someone less fortunate.
Sharing my lunch with someone less fortunate.
Being a good father and role model.
Being a good father and role model.
Help make the world a happier place!
Help make the world a happier place!

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Infinite words but just one small life.

Sailboats moored near Shelter Island, downtown San Diego skyline in the background.
Sailboats moored near Shelter Island, downtown San Diego in the background.

Anyone who tries to write soon realizes a daunting truth. There are countless possible stories to tell, and numberless ways to tell each one. Infinity multiplied by infinity amounts to a whole lot of indecision!

Last weekend I stood on a patch of beach on Shelter Island. A sailboat moored nearby fascinated my eye, and I puzzled over its profound complexity for several minutes. How could I accurately paint that sailboat with words? How could I phrase the most perfect description? Is it even possible? With a million words is it possible?

As I watched the bobbing boat and struggled to sequence potent adjectives, a sudden thought shook me: Writing’s purpose, like art’s purpose, isn’t to replicate the world. It’s to stretch our minds. That is all.

Words are limitless. As limitless as the universe. They allow us to travel anywhere, in any direction.

A few well-directed words can focus our minds (for a moment) on overlooked things; they can help us see vague things more vividly. Words can seek and memorialize those things that seem important. Words tossed about can provoke hidden feeling and allow us to draw nearer to others. Words, when magical, can help us to discern whispers of meaning in the echoing vastness around us.

Our lives are finite. But the infinity that is contained in words can expand our lives. That is their purpose.

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Writing a blog opens up an amazing world.

Birds take flight above palm trees in downtown San Diego.
Birds take flight above palm trees in downtown San Diego.

This is my 500th post. I can’t believe it.

When I started writing this blog on a lark about a year and a half ago, it was a puny little creation, and I hadn’t a clue where it would take me. Alas, after many hours pounding away at the old keyboard, I haven’t earned one thin dime. But that’s perfectly fine. The riches I’ve received are immaterial, and far greater.

Writing a blog–one that involves photography in particular–opens your eyes, enhances your appreciation of all that is around you. To chronicle a walk through this world, one must carefully experience each step and turn curious eyes everywhere. One must note light, depth, and the color of things. One must listen to others. If I hadn’t begun to meander about San Diego purposefully, searching for “cool” material, I might never have seen some hidden rainbows. Or a small bit of street art. Or dogs surf.

Writing a blog encourages creativity. It’s casual and conversational. There’s no need to fret too much about editing. Readers are just friends. So you can yap freely and let the mind flow. I’ve always been a fan of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. His great book Zen in the Art of Writing talks about the power of just letting thoughts flow, uninhibited, like gushing water from a wildly whipping dangerously uncontrolled hose. That water will irrigate one’s life, and the lives of others who are splashed.

Writing a blog leads the author to be more honest. More understanding. More compassionate. More vulnerable. Writing a blog, giving birth to a few silly words, expands the soul.

Thanks for coming along on my walks!

Where will I go today? I have a bit of an idea, but I’m not certain. Time propels us forward into the unknown. If you’d like, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr!