Tag Archives: gratitude

Carbon Friendprint


_DSC8278“Your pineapple plant has survived too!” I said to my dear friend, “Mine has even sprouted a second one.”

She leaned down, faffed with the fronds and said, “Looks like I have another one too.”

I leaned down to see her baby, just far enough to accidentally tip my open water bottle out onto her porch. “Oh gosh, I’m sorry, can I clean that up before I go?”

My friend waved me off, assuring me that it was no big deal. This is her nature. Always. Without exception. Nothing is ever a problem. She puts others first.

Driving home I thought about the mess I’d made on her porch, and even though it had been nothing more than water, I was struck by the blessing of her grace; how the most precious people in my life extend this gift effortlessly. I thought about the ease of some friendships and the difficulty of others.

Then I thought about the scent we waft, the residue that remains, the mark we leave upon friends we’ve spent time with, the way our presence either raises or lowers their blood pressure: our carbon friendprint.

Not too long ago, likely inspired by being plucked out of a few lives, I went through a mental weeding of my own (not an angry one, mind you), a process of evaluation: a selfish bout in which I questioned the value of nearly every relationship I claimed to hold dear.

Eventually I gave myself permission to let some grow and to let others fall back into fallow ground—no hard feelings for the closeness we failed to nurture, no regret over the empty bounty. A realization dawned: letting them go meant they would find others skilled at giving them what they needed, others who could plant, water and fertilize a beautiful friendship. What I or they or both of us had let die could be reborn, experience having taught us what matters most.

Our friendships are much like Earth’s precious resources, their preservation requiring us to eat locally grown food, or even better, to plant our own…to limit our negative impact on our planet.

Reminded today by an accidental splash of water to celebrate the beauty of my amazing galaxy of friends, all of whom leave the smallest friendprint imaginable, I am inspired to also tread with lighter, gentler, more graceful steps.






I am usually on a jam-packed freeway when I have the same thought I have when I am on a jam-packed airplane thirty-plus thousand feet in the air: I am tiny; therefore my problems are minuscule. These are great moments when suddenly the entire world, including the one that lives inside my head, shifts into perfect focus. Despite the drug-like high of this aha-moment, something disturbing niggles at me; taunts me like a fourth grade con-man trading a kindergartner a nickel for a dime–having convinced the youngster that bigger is better. I figure it out fairly quickly as I am taking the exit home: enlightenment is not a panacea; nor is it a miracle-drug, even when it feels like one–despite its miraculous size and feel.

Understanding how life works, that there is no resisting it, does not make it any easier to cope with the “part and parcel” atrocities. Just because I know that death is a natural part of life does not mean that I will not bawl uncontrollably, curse uncharacteristically, mask, hide, deny, fall apart…mourn forever. I will never be ready to lose someone I love. Period. There are no zen moments to cover the kind of grieving that arrives with those horrific curveballs thrown at light speed miles per hour–the ones that threaten to pin us to the ground forever. And this is what, right after the enlightened high has worn off and the right indicator light is still clicking, I am left with: the other shoe. When will it drop? Will I be ready? How can I prepare?

This is when I pray; not because I am religious, but because I know of no other way–other than driving into a ravine–to assuage any current or future grief. Praying feels good. It helps me. I like to think that my prayers have an energy that is attracted to other energy, that is attracted to…and so on and so forth, and that good things happen as the result of them. This might be enough to get me through, except for this awful enlightenment thing that feels a bit like intuition–or in darker moments, premonition. Tough times happen to everyone, and though humankind has come up with a plethora of mind-numbing substances to ease the pain, no one has transcended them.

I do not believe that those who have unshakable faith in an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and omnibenevolent god get to escape my freeway epiphany either. Having supernatural faith may bring a certain kind of peace; the kind that comes from knowing that there is a greater power around to help when life gets incomprehensibly difficult, the kind that brings the blessed assurance that the God in Heaven above will explain everything; but even the most upstanding Christians I know are still suffering, despite the fact that Jesus was sacrificed–despite having Biblical answers to difficult questions.

I am nearly home when the dam breaks; warm tears of gratitude creating black rivers down my cheeks. Pulling over might be a good idea, but I don’t. Pulling myself together instead, I renew my commitment to live and let live; to do the best I can with the time I have been given, to enjoy the amazing people God or science has put into my life, to give more than I take, to develop the gifts I can manage to unwrap, to smile and laugh more, to eradicate guilt, and to keep worry in a teensy tiny box; reserving it only for those times when it spurs me into positive action.

The prayer I say before reaching my driveway winds up being something like this: Please forgive me for not understanding you, for praying as if I am a believer, when sometimes I am not. All I ask is that you will give me the grace, the love, and the strength I need to navigate whatever comes my way. Amen.

It’s what I’ve taken to praying for those who are experiencing tough times: Grace, love and strength for the journey. And then I pray that there is a Great Someone Somewhere to give it to them.

If you click here, you can hear me singing a very rough version of one of my favorite songs (1953) about faith, dedicated to my friend, Sandra: 20120616 165447

This is the mp3 version, for those who cannot open the link above: 6_16_12 4_54 PM

Sun god

My pulse rises as I pull into a spot at the curb, grab my camera, and scan the park for a place to capture the bursting sky. Another photographer and his lady offer me a prime bench seat. I sit down gratefully and begin to shoot, wondering if a Canonite would have been so generous with the real estate. I’ve heard about the rivalry between those who, like me, shoot with a Nikon, and those who prefer Canon–but have never experienced it.

I decide to play with exposure compensation, dialing it down in an attempt to capture the way the vibrant oranges are manipulating the grayish blue sea; casting shadows on the sailboats, whose skippers must surely be preparing to sacrifice their lives for the mere chance to party with the irresistible sun god.

A wave of peaceful satisfaction washes over me. Behind the lens, with an abundance of manual settings literally at my fingertips, I am participating in the way creativity mingles with reality, enjoying the unchoreographed dance of a spontaneous life.




Photograph is property of the author/photographer, Britton Minor

Thank you


Tooth-brushing, food-cutting, hand-holding, tear-wiping, typing, piano-playing, caressing, cat-petting, camera-holding, box-carrying, gardening, scratching, supporting, full-body-hugging, push-ups…

Yesterday, while walking at the beach, I observed an elderly couple enjoying their older grandchildren. They had the look of a comfortable pair who have been together for many years. Eventually I passed them by, and when I reached my turn-around and started back, I saw them again…she with her right arm wrapped around his waist–no space between them and their love.

The absence of his left arm only bothered me a little bit-but not for the reason you may suspect. It bothered me because it has been a long time since I have given thanks for how well my left arm works, and for all the things it helps me do.

My jaded lens

Sometimes, when I get the feeling that I am missing something important yet intangible, I remind myself that my perceptions are jaded. Then I seek the broad path of seeing beyond, behind, inside of, below, outside of… differently. Herein lies the rub. How can I provide myself with an unbiased view of something “hard-wired” to be exactly that–biased? How can I change the DNA-fueled impressions I’ve made, been fed, massaged over years of mass media influence, denied, embraced, honed?

For example, how can I decide whether my faith is based on what I was taught, or on what I have come to believe “on my own?” Or how can I decide if my ideas about parenting have come from years of careful observation, natural instincts, intelligence, research and a heart for children, OR if I am wrong about many of the issues I fight (internally and externally) for and against?

Is there such a thing as “being neutral?” Can I be “fair” without also being “unfair? And don’t I consistently remind my children that life is not fair? How about “righteousness?” What does this mean? My way or the highway? The way the local church professes? The way my kids catch any inconsistency I unwittingly demonstrate, and call it out, expecting a resolution?

The lens with which I view my world is not rose-colored, it is cracked, dirty, and grimy. It is clear, reflective and beautiful. It is polarized and jaded. It is all I have. Pressing my eye to the viewfinder, I seek the perfect shot through a perfect lens. Click. I’ve got it! I pull the image up on a large screen to analyze the capture. The background is nicely blurred, the foreground is complementary and leads my eye directly to the subject. That’s when I see it–the perfect combination that suddenly has me taking great deep breaths. I study the shapes, the contours, the colors, the shadows and the light. The simple beauty of the virtual shot I have taken is stunning, but will only be fully appreciated by me. As I begin to flip through my life-album of best images, I realize that my most enlightened, powerful days are compositions made up of confidence, hard-knocks humility and the softest, most beautiful light I can imagine–that of gratitude.

photograph property of The Jaded Lens Photography