Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Small Wonders

Pulitzer prizewinner and former poet laureate Ted Kooser once wrote these lines:

If you can awaken
inside the familiar
and discover it strange,
you need never leave home.

He spoke about these words before an overflowing crowd at the Library of Congress a few years ago. "This four-line poem is a kind of credo for me," he said. "In short, we have beauty all about us, if we take the time to pay attention to it. Reinhold Marxhausen knew about paying attention; George Ault knew it. Pablo Neruda wrote dozens of remarkable poems about common things. Thousands of poets and painters have learned to pay attention like this. We honor the ordinary by giving it our attention. We enshrine the ordinary in our art. Is there anything really ordinary, I wonder?"

I've been thinking a lot about paying attention to the beauty of commonplace things. It's easy to blissfully sigh at a gorgeous bit of architecture or a breathtaking view. But it takes a little more than casual observation to notice everyday loveliness --the sweet shadow and texture of something mundane.

Like a trash dumpster surrounded on three sides by concrete walls.

Maybe I'm crazy -- but there, in a wash of afternoon light, I think it's just beautiful.


Shanna said...

These are the words of one of the world's most influential teachers of Drawing, Herb Jepson, of Jepson Art Institute in Los Angeles:

"Every moment is unique, and WE are unique in the moment."

This one lesson alone dispells all that is Academic.

I was lucky in that my first instructors - at U.T. - were former students of his. I later took a class at U.C.L.A. Extension with Jepson himself. Fantastic!!

Laughing Boy said...

I think I can understand your appreciation of the trash dumpster. The light and the texture are gorgeous.

Finding the beauty in the ordinary has become a skill that must be learned in our age of instant gratification. Thank you for reminding everyone to take the time to stop and look.

Ken Mac said...

the shadows make it beautiful

Mister Earl said...

Great photo today. Great thoughts. Great poem.

Others have found trash beautiful too:

Trashy Women

Well, I was raised in a sophisticated kind of style.
Yeah, my taste in music and women drove my folks half wild.
Mom and Dad had a plan for me,
It was debutantes and symphonies,
But I like my music; I like my women wild.

Yeah, I like my women just a little on the trashy side,
When they wear their clothes too tight and their hair is dyed.
Too much lipstick an' too much rouge,
Gets me excited, leaves me feeling confused.
I like my women just a little on the trashy side.

Shoulda seen the looks on the faces of my Dad and Mom,
When I showed up at the door with a date for the senior prom.
They said: "Well, pardon us son, she ain't no kid.
"That's a cocktail waitress in a Dolly Parton wig.
I said: "I know it dad, ain't she cool, that's the kind I dig."

Judy Williams said...

Like I've said before, black and white photography takes us to a different level of image viewing. We see each thing, person, scene, etc in a different way. The shapes and tones jump off of the page making it more about the parts than the sum of them. I like the harsh "hot" light to the left of the dumpster, but mostly, the geometry that it and the shadows create. You have such a great eye, Laurie.

My anti-spam word today is stiver. Doesn't that sound like a "real" word? hee hee

Jean Spitzer said...

Very beautiful. One of the first oil paintings I did was of a cerulean blue dumpster in a gray street(painting no longer exists in that form; I painted over it).

Margaret said...

My, you've inspired all the poets and poetry-lovers today. It's a great credo. I might have to print it off.

altadenahiker said...

Ok, if you can find beauty in a dumpster, maybe I can find beauty in my latest ceramic styling. But I still wouldn't bet on it.

Anonymous said...

If you dare to open it up and you might find a treasure within. It's been my experience

Double "D" said...

It is beautiful Laurie.
Certainly not seen by many or even noticed.
I love gems like this.

Mister Earl said...

"If you can awaken
inside the familiar
and discover it strange,
you need never leave home."

And I'll have what you're having!

WV: "waked" Which means i just awoke or I'm dead.

dbdubya said...

Some of my imagination has failed me today. I don't see anything but a pair of dumpsters in a walled area. But, I can smell them as if I was walking by the nasty ones behind Pollo Loco on Fair Oaks.

Laurie said...

Hey gang,

Welcome Laughing Boy!

So... I guess I've really gone off my nut. I'm posting pictures of dumpsters!

But seriously, isn't it refreshing to open up the possibility of beauty in the most unexpected places? Yeah, it's a trash bin, but aren't those shadows great? And the texture of the concrete and pavement against the slant of the dumpster...

Okay. I know. I posted a picture of a trash bin.

I come from a long line of lateral thinkers. One of my mom Dixie's favorite expressions when I was growing up was, "when I see a pile of sh*t, I say, 'where's the pony?'"

Thanks for letting me pony up a nontraditional subject in today's photo. Hey, South Pas is so fantastic even its dumpsters are pretty!

I appreciate all of the lovely thoughts and kind words. Until tomorrow, everyone...

Dixie Jane said...

Dumpster art. They don't even look, "smelly." No old mattresses or junked sofas beside them. No trash on the ground. Just pure dumpsters. Not a rat in sight. Put a little girl in a tutu beside them and the whole picture changes.

Anonymous said...

Really amazing...

Nice photo...wonderful thoughts....

Thanks for sharing...

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