Category Archives: Ἀρετή

Photography Is Both Hard and Simple

Photography is not hard in an academic sense. The fundamentals are rooted in physics, but the principles are few and simple. Photography is applying those principles as a means to bring creative ideas inside of one’s head into being.

What makes photography hard is what makes every other artistic medium hard. One has to conceive of an idea, and master the skills to manipulate light and machinery needed to bring that idea into existence.

Furthermore, tools such as cameras, strobes, filters, software, etc. are merely resources for the use of the creator. They do not make one a creator, nor do they endow the skills required to fully use the resources. A novice will take terrible snapshots whether he has a cell phone or a $3,000 camera because he has the mind of a novice.

Becoming a photographer requires one to expand one’s understanding and ability to match the creative mind. This process, in turn, expands the creative mind further. This requires a new expansion of understanding and ability. And thus the cycle continues.

Line upon line, precept upon precept.


Butt Prints in the Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?
Those prints are large and round and neat,
But Lord, they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” He said in somber tones,
“For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.

“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt.

“Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand.”


This poem was taken from rec.humor.funny on 20 February 2000. The moderator’s note reads “[Note – circulating anonymously – ed.]”. It is, of course, written as a counterpoint to the allegory Footprints in the Sand (authorship disputed).

A number of Christians that I shared this poem with have chosen to take offense, shocked at the idea that God might not be a helicopter parent who endlessly coddles us humans despite our recalcitrant selfishness.

I cannot countenance a god that is a wishing well. Endlessly begging God for favours when life becomes inconvenient requires no faith. When we see a spoiled brat we do not say, “Oh, see how much faith that child has in his parents.” We feel sorry for the child, knowing that the parents have robbed him of learning basic self-reliance, and therefore he will have a difficult life ahead.

The Greek verb “to have faith” — πιστεύω (pistevo) — is an active verb. To walk in faith is an act that requires us to face our fears, take action, and grow through the experience. We then have acquired the skills and tools to tackle the next segment of the trail of  personal excellence. This is a process of incremental self-improvement under the tutelage of a master guide whose own feet have worn smooth the roughest rocks along the trail.

The Hawk Came Calling

“Firefly” has some nice posts. The Hawk Came Calling was timely for me. 
Earlier this winter I had a literal “hawk” moment. As I peeped through the blinds one morning, a young sharp-shinned hawk decided to come to our busy bird feeder to grab a tasty snack.

That moment presented an opportunity. I could savour the moment for myself, or I could cut it short and take a chance of missing out on more viewing time to share it with other people. 

I ran through the house crying “Hawk! Hawk!” to alert my family and grab my camera. I was pleased that our visitor stayed long enough for them to also partake of the moment, and for me to take some shots. (You can see one of the photos here.)

While hawks may not oft come into our lives literally, we have “hawk” moments daily. Some appear small, others appear as giants.

We cannot know in advance the outcomes of all of life’s Individual choices, and we humans are notorious for bad predictions. It’s human nature to fear losing what we have. We want to get all we can get for ourselves while the “getting is good”.

The habit of taking life as it comes allows us to receive the benefit of all those wonderful experiences that we otherwise turn down, clinging to the fear of losing what little we have. Instead of focusing on potential loss, we can step forward boldly and enjoy a new adventure.

Dive In or Play It Safe?

In this video, Mr. Harward tells a story to raise the question of diving in versus playing it safe.


I was a guest at joint CEO Space / Producer Power Hour presentation in January 2009. Brett Harward was a guest speaker. The entire presentation was interesting, and I took a lot of notes. (I can see the back of my head in the video at one point.)

Inadequacy and Doubt

In a group discussion, one person expressed their feelings of inadequacy in face of their daily duties that they have chosen. The group is religious-centred, thus this reply:

According to my friend, Dr. Paul, all our worries and fears are rooted in the false idea, “I can’t handle it.” But there’s good news. That idea is not true.

Christians especially have no place for worry, for we read such scriptures as

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philip 4:13, KJV


…in [God’s] strength I can do all things…

Alma 26:12

We need not be so arrogant as to think we’re experiencing something unique; that we’re the exception, the special case. Christ has personally borne the weight of our experiences. Paul tells us that our experiences are “anthropinos” (ἀνθρώπινος) which means common to us all as humans:

No experience has come to you except it be common to the human condition. God can be trusted, for He will not permit us to be stretched beyond our abilities. He will provide along with the experience a way by which we can shoulder it.

1 Cor. 10:13
(my personal translation from the Greek)

Three Deceivers: First Contact

I was pointed to transcripts of what appear to be a five-part series of interviews between an author, Richard Eyre, and a national talk show host, Glenn Beck. (Update: I didn’t realize until now that I’ve taken a class from Mr. and Mrs. Eyre at a writer’s conference. From how scantily I know them, I’m not surprised that a book like this came from Mr. Eyre. A blog promoting the book can be found here.)

After reading the interviews I’d like to read the book. Having not read the book yet, but only the interview transcripts, they appear to be similar to some conclusions that I’ve come to previously.

The following are simply thoughts that are coming to my mind after reading the interview transcripts. I look forward to reading the book and what harvest it might provide. At this time I’m fleshing these out so that they’re understandable. I apologize that they’re largely mental notes that I wish to jot down.

Control itself is not a “deceiver”. Neither are ownership and independence. They are merely tools. The “deceiver” are the paradigms that we hold about them. They fit in the middle tier in Dr. Paul’s three-tier model of maturity and control. The “alternatives” fit into the upper tier of Dr. Paul’s model of maturity and control.

In other words, each “deceiver” is a building block for the alternatives.

  • One must first be able to control before one can let go and embrace serendipity.
  • One must first be able to own before one can let go and be a steward.
  • One must first be independent before one can let go and forge powerful synergistic relationships.

The “letting go” part is not an abandonment of the principles of control, ownership, and independence. It’s an abandonment of the notion that these principles are the End (or even an End). It’s an abandonment of our emotional attachment to them. It’s an abandonment of our old paradigms and moving to a higher level of maturity, one which frees us from the level of “I” to “us”.

Casting off our ties to lesser things in order to achieve a higher level of personal growth are an ancient part of our Western heritage. It overlaps heavily with the old Zen teaching in Japan (before it was castrated by those with political power who felt threatened by it).