To be hopeful in bad times is based on the fact that human history is not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.~Howard Zinn
Most of us will remember 2020 as a very difficult year, when our our plans for the future were derailed, our faith in societal institutions was severely tested, and our resiliency and strength of character were on display–for better or for worse. At times, I thought of this photo taken in New South Wales of a burned out section of scrubland destroyed by wildfire. For me it symbolized this past year–both in its acknowledgment of the devastating power of nature and, at the same time, the hopefulness of regeneration. The vivid green grass is a reminder that nature and the human race will endure.
In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me.~Julia Cameron
This year, I found some tranquility by focusing on the present moment and blocking out my worries about the future. Flowers helped me focus because they were a constant reminder to pay attention to their fleeting beauty.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. -Albert Einstein
This image brings to mind the power of nature to astound us with its beauty and soothe both mind and spirit. I captured this cone flower on one of many walks through the gardens of Prescott Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
There is no education like adversity. ~Disraeli
Adversity has tested us this year and has taught us some lessons about ourselves and others. This image, captured several years on a road trip through Albuquerque, New Mexico was “buried” in my files. When I “rescued” it, I was delighted by the stark beauty of the scene. The barren, hardscrabble landscape is a reminder that I will find hidden nuggets of beauty and wisdom even in moments of gloom and adversity.
Never make predictions, especially about the future. ~Casey Stengel
This final image was captured on a night when the weather forecasters predicted cloudy skies and oppressive showers. This sunset was a gift of incredible beauty, hope, and optimism. It reminded me that it was easy to get lost in the gloom, but keeping my mind and heart open to the unexpected, the unknown, rewarded me with a gift of beauty and happiness.
Now, as I wrap up my trip back in time to 2020, I’d like to pause and circle back to my opening quote by Howard Zinn. It’s true that the new year got off to a rocky start, bringing news of more political unrest, a raging virus sweeping through the world, and mounting deaths. We all have very good reasons to feel hopeless, angry and frustrated, but at the same time, Howard Zinn reminds us that these feelings rob us of our energy and our compassion, and limit our ability to be a positive force for good–not only for ourselves, but for others. His words have often been my talisman. They express so beautifully the hope that our actions and thoughts will be lights in the darkness.
I invite you to join Tina’s “Favorite Photos of 2020” challenge this week and encourage you to visit her site. Her beautiful images and words are a delight.
We are excited to announce that next week’s challenge will be guest hosted by Slow Shutter Speed’s Anne Sandler. Be sure to stop by her blog this week to see her beautiful photography and to make sure you don’t miss her post next Saturday at noon EST.
And finally, my wish for all of you– a new year filled with joy, satisfaction, and good health.