My writing process is a little like the chicken and the egg. Sometimes the words come first, then I try to find a picture to go with them. Other days – like today – it’s the image that informs the words.
I made this photograph in 2018, flying east from Palm Desert to Toronto, just before sunset. I must have known the conditions were better than good, or I would have left my big camera in its bag and snapped a few blurry phone shots for the record.
I do some of my best thinking on planes; especially when flying over desert or mountains. I feel simultaneously inspired and humbled. Inspired because the beauty of the planet takes my breath away. Humbled because I’m reminded how small I am compared to the whole.
It’s in this in between space that I feel most connected to life on earth and the life of the earth. I’m both a part of it, and apart from it.
The pull to feeling insignificant is strong. I am impermanent. A speck. These foothills and the desert will be here long after me. But somehow this truth also communicates that simply being here is significant.
This same type of tension – the push and pull across the spectrum of significance – is happening in daily life right now on the ground. (Ironically, very far from flying in planes.) The push from outside to feel small and insignificant is understandable. World events are big. It’s easy to believe that nothing we could do from our screens in our homes would or could make a difference in comparison.
When I look at this picture I am reminded. Every grain of sand has been put in place by a myriad of factors. Each speck has a role to play in creating the whole.
It’s exactly the same for each of us, just by being here. Our unique role is both a minuscule grain, and a majestic part of something bigger.