Last night I took a walk around my neighborhood. It was evening on a summery Monday night. A thin layer of humidity hung over the streets and the cicadas song was buzzing happily from the trees. I passed my daughter and her friends riding their bikes along the streets. A few houses down my son and his friend were wrestling in the yard. It was an idyllic scene in many ways. But yet I felt a little raw inside. Perhaps you know that feeling of things just being wrong. Maybe it’s big stuff, maybe it’s the small irritants of life, but things just aren’t right.
There’s a frustration with the world. The pieces don’t align correctly. No matter what I do or how I work at every turn in my story there seems to be more conflict and more difficulty. As soon as one obstacle is circumvented, just the other side another one raises its ugly shape to block my path.
So I took a walk to get outside of my house and the frustrations of dirty dishes and endless laundry. Away from a pile of bills, the tangle of parenting worries. Instead of using my phone to keep up with the news and feed my fear of what’s happening in my country and the world, I used it to take photos. The summer sun was setting late and the golden light was just beginning to fade as I set out to walk down my street.
I wanted to look for glimpses of the extraordinary in the ordinary moment. I wanted to look around me to see the bits of beauty in the midst of the brokenness. As I have grown older I have learned that life is so often about seeking meaning and release from anxiety by looking for the juxtaposition between the beauty and the brokenness of this world.
So I set out to capture what I could of this in the few minutes before dusk. I set out to look in the space just around me for that convergence where beauty and brokenness, common and sacred, everyday and eternal meet in the moments that flow around us each day.
I have set out on this walk before in many different times and in many different places in the world. I took these walks first when I was still a child in the tiny college town I grew up. Years later I walked along the sidewalks of Los Angeles when I lived in southern California. I’ve walked through slums and markets and rice fields and large cities.
When I have gone looking with intention, I have never failed to find that space inside my own heart reflected out through the small details of the world around me.
When I pull back the filters of life’s cares, I can see more clearly the world around me and I am always reminded of the many filters between my eyes and my heart and my brain.
All these filters interpret the images my eyes take in and filter them. They shade them with their own colors and add shadows and darkness where light should be. They pour in colors of envy or worry where highlights of joy should exist. They create mountains of fear where warm meadows of understanding and connection ought to stretch.
All these also shade the pictures of my mind. But when I stop to look and work to peel back my filters I can see the beauty. I can see the brokenness. I can see the humanity, the softness, the connection, the eternal. But I have to look.
Look at the world around you.
Take the time to see the small pieces, the hidden beauty. Take the time to sit with the brokenness and feel the pain that pulses around us. Take the time to learn from others and hear their stories. Try on new filters. Seek new perspectives and different angles.
Here is in this place we have created online, Blue Dot is one of these spaces. A place to walk through the world and see through other filters and perspectives. A place to step out for a moment from the regular crush of life to walk around and look for the beauty and the brokenness that surrounds us all regardless of what corner of this blue dot we inhabit.
Author and photo credit: Julie Martinez