I Sang a New Song Today

To be honest I’m always singing something new. I listen to music more than I probably should and I spend a pretty significant amount of that listening time thinking about my own music that I write. I love writing music and lyrics, and for some reason I’m not sure how I developed the obsession. I used to say that music was something that always managed to change my emotions and move me in some way, but I feel like there are so many people who don’t write their own songs who can say that. Regardless, something draws me to it.

The catch, though, is that I don’t share what I write-at least not openly; not yet. I intend to, but I’m trying to get through college, finish my degree, and focus on one major life project at a time. Yes, I write all the time, but I’m not terribly focussed on really making music my full-fledged effort for a little while longer. However, something changed in me today, and I think I’m ready to start the process of sharing my artistic attempts with those around me. What changed? Honestly I think my answer is the exact same one as the answer to what draws me to music: connection.

I love being connected with others. I love sharing thoughts and finding similarities and nuances in all that we do. I love that the human race is so diverse and complex that we can have so many unique tastes, opinions, and ideas and yet we can all share a platform called music to express them in.

I was driving with one of the most important people in my young life; someone who has really had an influence on who I have become, and who I intend on continuing to grow into as I grow older. We were driving downtown and she had control of the music in the car and I asked her to play a song by Sia, one of my favorite artists. Her song “Bird Set Free” talks about being free to sing and live and worry less, the perfect song to prompt a nice, “okay you should sing this” from the passenger side of my vehicle…

Naturally it forced me to have to sing, and to my extreme surprise, she loved it. We connected through music, and ended up singing several songs together. Today’s significance was that I was reminded that everything I love is a gift. I came to a deeper appreciation for the things in life that make me happy, and I’m now thinking I’ll start singing at some open mic nights. Before today, I simply didn’t sing for real in front of others. I just couldn’t do it. But today I realized I can sing in front of others and people just appreciate that I am sharing that side of myself with them. They, too, appreciate the connection. The song I sang literally is not new to me; but sharing something that I was always so careful to safeguard? That is a new song that I will proudly sing.

Today’s life lesson: Appreciate what makes you happy, be confident to share who you are, and always make connections. 

Stoned: A Commentary on Rocks

To answer your question: yes there is plenty of good material on rocks to hold a commentary on such a topic. I mean, they’ve been around for quite
literally billions of years, so something had to have been interesting at some point that made for good conversation. IMG_4711

My blog is dedicated to finding concepts in the natural world that can be connected to human life. As a human race, it’s easy to find lessons to learn in the history of our existence… my only complaint about such a concept is that this practice limits us to such a small window of time in the grand scheme of Earth’s timeline (no offense to my history buff friends). Our species has only existed for approximately 0.2 million years… so what about all the adapting, thriving, growing, and developing that has been happening on this planet for 3.8 billion years? Is it possible to make connections to human life from such basic life forms and their progression through time? I argue that it is, and that’s what I’ve set out to do… But in order to really do so, I’ve decided to take it one step back and talk about the things that started to form approximately 3.9 billion years ago: rocks.

They say pressure makes a diamond. They’re not entirely  wrong, but they’re cliché at this point. Pressure and heat have formed rocks for billions of years, and too often we only see plain, ordinary pieces of minerals that have formed a hard mass. What if there is more to see in rocks? What if we see a natural mosaic instead of pile of small stones? What if we see an opportunity to climb and achieve instead of a grey cliff?

FullSizeRender 2Ancient civilizations saw the precious value of rock and so built their homes, their cities, pyramids, temples, statues, monuments, streets, gardens, aqueducts, schools, churches, etc…. Rock is resilient, tough, and stable, and has laid the literal and metaphorical foundations for our greatest civilizations.

Rocks can be used for art; they can be used to build amazing structures; they can be used as tools, as weapons, and as jewelry. No matter what, anything made of stone is still a stone, and once started as a simple rock.

IMG_4704Today’s lesson: where you start can be just as amazing as where you end up. What I find even better, though, is that all that this Earth has to offer comes from a base of rock. One of the simplest and most overlooked commodities on this planet is the reason the human race ever survived. Never forget your beginnings, as every great statue was once just
another rock.

5 Reasons to Be More Like a Honey Bee

Honey bees are badass. There’s no doubt about it, they’re practically untouchable. Although as much as I think they’re amazing little powerhouses, they’re in danger. Unfortunately, sobering statistics have become prominent in the beekeeping circles and ecological studies over the past few years. According to the national collaboration of universities and beekeepers called Bee Informed, the United States lost 44% of honey bees in their 2015-2016 study. Many studies have pointed to culprits such as the overuse of pesticides and the invasion of parasites in hives as large scale causes of the population decline. However, I would argue that the biggest issue that faces our bees right now is the fact that not enough people are talking about them.

Honey bees are, in fact, critical to our crops. Approximately 80% of our seed crops, fruits, and vegetables are pollinated by honey bees. Why? In biology, this is defined as a symbiotic relationship. The honey bees gain nectar and pollen from the plants that they can then use for food supply, while the plants benefit from the pollination. Specifically this is known as mutualism, as it benefits both parties. The Ancient Egyptians are thought to be the first population to discover the benefits of honey and beeswax, and became a factor of the symbiotic relationship: they became a third party in the mutualistic relationship. Now there is a mutualism triangle: humans provide shelter for the hives, the bees pollinate their crops and provide honey, and the plants provide the bees with food stock while pollinated.

Then humans introduced pesticides, and moved honey bees throughout the world. For a while, we were great, but now the triangle has been hurt. We are now facing an issue that is seemingly growing: We have more people (which means more of a need for food) with fewer bees. Fortunately, we have some things we can do about it to try to get things under control. Why? Our food crops and our ecosystems depend on the efforts of honey bees. How can we take a supportive role? It’s actually pretty easy! If you have anything close to a green thumb, consider planting a bee-friendly garden to encourage pollination and sources of food for the bees. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could consider getting a  hive of your own, but you may need some startup information like you can find in how-to books like these. If nothing else, consider supporting your local beekeepers by visiting farmers markets and farm stands and purchase their wares to support their efforts in conserving the species. You can even share this post with your friends to spread the knowledge for the sake of the bees!

As long as you’re interested in supporting our busy little bee friends, you might as well learn a bit more about what makes honey bees so great, and why you should be more like a honey bee yourself:

1) They’re great communicators. Bees are social creatures that support a hive of thousands of individuals thanks to their communication skills. Bees are known to do a “waggle dance”  to tell other bees the exact location of a good source of food (it’s actually really cool to watch). What’s most important about the ways bees communicate is that there are no spoken words: it’s body language with a whole lot of watching and listening by peers. Communication is only as good as the listener is at receiving the message.

2) They’re savers. As a college student, I have learned a lot about the fact that it’s never too early to start saving. Retirement may be a long way away, but we really never know when we may need a fallback plan. Honey bees stockpile honey and beeswax from day one to use for whenever there is a shortage of food. Most commonly that’s wintertime, but it can be used at any point when the hive needs it.

3) They’re pollinators. I know…. You don’t have big fluffy legs and abdomens that can collect and carry little particles of pollen around from plant to plant… and I hope imagine you don’t have a big proboscis sticking out of your face to collect nectar. But you do have a brain, and that’s all you need. Pollen, at its basic level, is simply a reproductive substance that carries genetic information to allow a bigger, healthier crop to fuel a new generation. Be a pollinator of your own information. Share your gifts and talents, and help cultivate a more brilliant world around us.

4) They’re efficient. As I said before, honey bees have the task of pollinating approximately 80% of our crops. One honey bee can travel up to three miles away from a hive in order to collect food. These little creatures have efficiency, speed, and skill that allow them to work so hard and accomplish so much for so many species on this planet. Not to mention the fact that a good, active, healthy hive never gets below freezing in the winter time. Body heat and efficient work does, in fact, go a long way.

5) They only sting when they have to. Honey bees have stingers, but using it results in death for the bee. Honey bees are known to be very docile as bees go, and tend to be more interested in doing their work and staying out of the way. Honey bees, unlike many wasps and other stinging insects, are not inherently aggressive and would rather fly away. However, whenever the likelihood of the survival of their local population is in danger, everything changes. Fighting all the time is pointless. Fighting and protecting what’s important? That’s vital.

Still interested in learning more? Check out these resources for more: 

The Honey Bee Conservancy 

What You Can Do

Make a donation to Bee Informed

*This post is in no way sponsored by any of the above organizations, and no compensation was given for the information or links provided*

Sometimes I Take Photos at Weird Angles

There’s really no rhyme or reason to it.

I get bored looking at photos that are so perfectly level and square to the frame.. I mean, I can’t count the number of times I have heard or read, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So why can’t those thousand words get a little more interesting?

It’s true, though… I am very imaginative, and I can be pretty good at talking endlessly coming up with enough words to fill in a story or two. My issue isn’t coming up with the story, it’s more about the fact that all the stories seem to have the same vibe to them. They’re all cut and dry; there’s no room for creativity or fun. I like being able to look at a photo and imagine how and why the photographer got that shot.

IMG_3909I think that’s why I’ve always been a fan of paintings and sculpture. Take, for example, a statue in ancient Pompeii. Imagine what that statue looked like in the raw… it was quite literally a hunk of rock, and yet someone saw the likeness of a living being and chiseled into it to create it. What kinds of positions did that sculptor have to assume in order to make the perfect image?

How many hours/days/weeks/months did that sculpture take to create? What about the painters? Some people aren’t aware, but Michelangelo created a drawing of his design for the Sistine Chapel, and actually recruited the help of other painters and understudies to essentially “paint by number” for him. They would apply the base and primers and often the base coat of color, at which point he would add the details.

Imagine what those painters went through. They were working for Michelangelo on his biggest project.. Michelangelo was an artist constantly surrounded by controversy for the uncensored nature of his work. So…. you’ve got understudies working for a controversial artist commissioned by Pope Julius to paint the ceiling of a prominent expansion of the Vatican in Rome. Imagine how they could have answered, “So how was your day, honey?”

This is what I do. I take a historically significant ceiling in a Catholic chapel and I make it about the understudies. It all comes full circle, though, because here I am thinking about how I can get stories out of the photos that I see on Instagram, Facebook, the media, etc.

That’s why I end up on picnic tables, under staircases, in trees, between rocks, hanging out of windows, you name it. Yes, sometimes my photos tell a story of one subject matter because that’s what I’m looking for. But how much more interesting is it when we see a photo that makes us go “huh… either he can’t hold a camera or he’s actually trying for this”? IMG_4705

I suppose that’s what this entire blog is starting to look like…

“Was that intentional or..?”

That’s what’s fun about art. It makes you question things, and what stories I see in a photo are totally different from what you might see. That’s like nature; you just never know how it’s going to speak to you.

\ˈhyü-mən \ˈnā-chər\

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