Every once in a while I’m transported back in time. I see or hear or smell something that strips away the high tech digital world of the present. On August 4th 2016 I could have sworn that I was passing through some kind of time slip. I have posted about the Shay Reproduction Roadsters before however for those who don’t know these are antique car design with modern modern materials. The Aesthetics of the older vehicles bring to mind thing like the feel of fine leather upholstery and the smell of wood polish. There was a time when people drove for the pleasure of the open road and not just going from point A to point B. There was an age when a person’s time was their own and a craftsman was appreciated for the quality of his work and not just the sheer volume of production. The artistry in the architecture blended with craftsmanship and skilled hand gave life to the machine. Mass production made them affordable but each piece had its own personality. We gave them names and made them members of our families. When the older ones began to break down we learned how to repair the machine and extended it’s lifetime until there was no choice but to let it go. As I look towards the future of the motor car I can see a time when Artificial Intelligence just might have the potential to deepen our connection with the vehicles. I can imagine how smart cameras embedded in car will recognize our faces and the cars will know our names. When it will learn our routine and wish us a good morning as we step out of the house. There will be lots of bells and whistles. There is already cars with Wi-Fi networks to keep us entertained. Advanced warning systems to keep the driver from changing lanes at the wrong time and cars that drive themselves are becoming more and more common. But, in all of the wondrous technology that is on the rise I have to admit that I will miss the simple pleasure climbing behind the wheel just driving.
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I exited the highway and slowly drifted down the muddy road. A few days prior I’d spotted the tunnel. The entrance is dark and foreboding. The Virginia Creeper vines hang across the opening as if they’re daring me to step within reach. Just on the other side the light falls gently on a peaceful looking forest. This is a mystery. My mind harkens back to my childhood and games of dungeons and dragons. What will happen if I cross the threshold? Will the vines try to grab me and pull me up into some primeval jungle? Will I find out the peaceful scene on the other side is just an illusion as I’m transported to an alternate reality by some mystical gateway? Will I find an angry axe wielding ogre waiting to squish me into jelly? My sense of fantasy and adventure begins to run wild. I began to recall hours of solving puzzles and riddles with my college friends in a world where one’s fate was controlled by the roll of a 20 sided die. It was pure escapism. Magical swords, cursed rings and legendary beasts all awaited us on Thursday nights in the student lounge.
The best games were the ones where we bent the rules just a little to keep the story going. I was tempted to temp fate and enter the tunnel for a few minutes. I quickly checked my pocket and found my trusty Victorinox Swiss Army Knife to fend away the vines. However, I remembered that the 20 sided die was lost to a wild roll and an open floor vent in 1988. Unwilling to face any axe wielding ogres without my lucky die, I opted to stay in the real world…for now. I turned my big blue truck back towards the open road and my day job where the vines don’t try to eat you. However, I am a little suspicious of the ficus in the corner of the office. 😉
This one is the reflection of a cloud on Summersville Lake. I snapped the photo on a whim and it’s one of the first photos I ever took with a quality camera. What I like the most about this particular image is contrast in harmony. The cloud is a symbolic representation of the element of air floating on water. In order to get the image I had to point my lens away from the sky. The photo shows two forms of water in the same place at the same time. The cool blue-green color of the lake belies the near tropical weather we had the day I took the photo.
Nature loves balance. We tend to think of world in terms positive and negative depending on how something impacts our lives. Sometimes I like to think of these situations more in terms of ebb and flow. A balanced life will experience both sides of the equation. The old adage is that “in every life a little rain must fall.” I assure you that Summerville Lake is drained every year and that without a lot of rain there would be no peaceful days floating on that beautiful blue-green water. This is the simple concept that pulls me though the tough times. There will be a wonderful calm after the storm. Balance will eventually bring the nice things back around in my direction.
A balmy breeze sweeps across the open field gently shaking the tall grasses. Just outside the frame the sweet scent of roses finds it way to the spot where we’re just taking in the warmth. The curious little hoverfly buzzes up our faces for a better look at the giants who have come to visit his space. I heard you giggle slightly when he landed on the end of my nose just make sure that I wasn’t some strangely tall flower. Satisfied that I wasn’t a good source of pollen or nectar he lifted off once more and returned to the daisy. This is perfect spot for our time together. We spread out the old blanket that we keep in the back of car for emergencies. It’s our getaway time. No agendas. No responsibilities. Just time to lay down and watch the world. We look at clouds and make up stories about the shapes we see. We laugh and talk until the birds singing transitions into crickets. Just before the last rays of the sun disappear behind the mountains the little hoverfly returns. I couldn’t help but giggle when he landed on your nose too.
It was a perfect day but we can’t stay here forever. We gather our blanket and put it in its place in the back of the car until the next perfect day. Which I hope is tomorrow.
From the first warm Spring rain you awoke to the life giving glow of solar affection.
For a season you bathed in radiance and grew strong enough to withstand the violence of the summer storms.
Strength has now faded and your tasks are complete. All that is left is to carry your golden glow to the forest floor and sleep until the time of rebirth when the sparrow sings and glory awakens you once more.
– Lloyd A Dempsey II
I have always observed that God’s Word is written first on nature. The life cycle of the deciduous trees of Appalachia teaches me that a Christian is conceived in Grace. The leaves don’t go and pull down the light from the sun. It is freely available for them to receive. We as humans don’t call down grace. It’s already here and freely available to anyone. In order to receive the life giving light of the sun the leaves must both awaken and open to receive the light. The Christian must also be awakened and open to receiving the grace of God. It’s the light that makes leaves strong enough to withstand the storms. Our strength is in Christ. At the end of the season the energy collected by the leaves stays in the leaf and is added to the fertility of the forest floor which is taken up by the roots of the tree and used to produce a new leaf. The Grace of God is carried into death by the believer until the day that Christ returns and wakes us from mortal slumber and we are made new.
I learn a lot from watching nature. Take geese for example. They have no complex language (as far as well know) and yet they seem to have the ability to maintain social cohesion. Maybe not as perfectly as some other birds but they do seem to function as a single unit. What’s more is that they seem to take turns at being the leader with relatively little conflict. If you watch closely as that V formation flies over or swims by they shift position with the leader creating a wake for the rest of flock to cruise in. I know the science of how it helps them to travel farther but it amazes me how there’s cooperation. I think that the secret is that each bird knows that their own well being is dependent on the well being of the flock. In turn, the well being of the flock depends on the well being of the individual. If the flock loses a member that means that the unit can’t travel as efficiently during migration. I think it’s the interdependency between leadership and followers that maintains the balance. That’s a lesson we should all learn.
What you do in life matters. Our actions and words create ripples that travel outward and interact with world around us. Try to make a splash in the world but make it a positive splash. Eventually, those tiny waves will rebound back to you.