An Invitation to Play

Wandering online through the collective stories we’re telling is like driving an old truck down a bumpy dirt road — you kind of expect your car to fall apart at any moment. Yet somehow, it keeps going.

Puppy catch by Adam Morris on 500px.com

It’s been rough lately — namely the election and billions of opinions written in the shock following the election. But that’s not all — there is a lot of messy stuff happening around the world — the middle east, Brexit, the Philippines, a massive refugee crisis, a 7.8 earthquake in New Zealand, and then Apple had to go and release a laptop without any normal ports, when we’ve all been waiting for a super upgrade, and all we got was a… touch bar?

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Habits and Yoga

Do you ever notice a disconnect between what you say you do, and what you actually do? I, for example, say that I practice yoga, but realistically make it into the yoga studio less then 3 times a month.

Gandhi on the Boardwalk by Adam Morris on 500px.com

I was reflecting on this in December while I was in India, wondering how I could “get” myself into a healthy yoga routine. The determination to bring about sudden change for a renewed commitment often fails, in the same way that the new years resolutions typically are forgotten by February. And determination against your natural will will often have other detrimental side effects.

I know successful change contains two key components:

  1. Build a habit.
  2. Find the joy in it.
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Chicago summer beachfront

Reminiscing over summer as autumn rolls in – here is a delightful view down onto the Chicago beachfront, from the top of the John Hancock Tower.

Chicago Summer Beachfront by Adam Morris on 500px.com

I am quite proud of this photo – it was my most popular photo I ever posted on 500px. It was from the weekend trip during the summer up to Chicago, from the top of the Hancock tower looking down. There is something so refreshing about tromping around all day in a city, such that your legs are aching by the end of the day. I used to live in a city where I had no car, and could walk endlessly. Now that I need a car to get anywhere, I rarely walk. The world feels different when you’re able to get around on your own to feet.

Lakeside sunset

Light is best at sunset.

Lakeside Sunset by Adam Morris on 500px.com

Or at sunrise. Actually, this is a bit past the magical 15 minutes that happens around sunset. There is this moment as the sun is setting, where the contrast between the sky and the horizon is such that you get beautiful deep colors and details in the horizon. But this is not that moment. Here it is past sunset, and the horizon is a silhouette.

Lucent under the Hancock

I don’t think people realize that the Hancock Tower has a lobby, except when exiting the tower. It’s got this funky sculpture call Lucent, which supposedly accurately maps the stars in the northern hemisphere.

Lucent under the Hancock by Adam Morris on 500px.com

I’ll be honest though, I looked from different angles, and I can’t even find the big dipper, so I don’t know if this is a case of the emperor has no clothes, or I don’t spend enough time stargazing.

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Sunset Rocks the Water

I love how a long exposure at sunset leaves a misty boundary around the rocks.

Sunset rocks the water by Adam Morris on 500px.com

My true dive into photography started in 2005 when I inherited a Canon 40-D digital DSLR. Living in London, street photography was a natural fit, and I used to roam the streets taking pictures of everything I found. Slowly I started attending meetups and photography classes, learning news ways to take pictures. From those, I started learning the art of long exposures, especially during that magical moment when the sun is just rising or setting. These photos are fun to take, because they’re longer exposures – this one was 8 seconds… which gives you enough time to sit patiently and enjoy the moment while the camera is taking the picture.

Branch Lake at Dusk

Sitting on the water, watching the sun set over Branch Lake up in Maine.

Branch Lake at Dusk by Adam Morris on 500px.com

I don’t know what it is about the colors at sunset, but the world seems to come into a different focus. And that’s just magnified when you’re at the water’s edge. Maybe the lighting changes so quickly, that you can watch it happen, and this gives you a pause to slow down and actually just observe what’s happening around you.

Bright Bouys of Bar Harbor

I love Maine.

Bright Buoys of Bar Harbor by Adam Morris on 500px.com

When in Maine, I feel like I’m walking through a picture book. I loved these colorful buoys hanging on the side of a shack. Every year or so I’ll visit, and I’m always amazed at how vibrant everything is. Maybe it’s the lobster going to my head, but it feels like everywhere you look there is something that catches the eye.

Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana Meditation is an ancient art form of mastery over our habitual reactions.

Wild Maine Blueberries by Adam Morris on 500px.com

When I mention going on a silent 10-day meditation retreat, people’s reactions are often respond with a glazed look and sort of a “I could never stay silent for 10 days” kind of a response.

But having been through it, keeping your mouth shut is easy. Your mind still chatters away, and observing this is just part of the fun. Developing the strength to sit comes one step at a time, and is why you go… Not a prerequisite.

Vipassana meditation is the practice at the heart of Buddhism, with an objective of enlightenment. As Daniel Ingram noted in his book, “Mastering the Core Teaching of the Buddha”, enlightenment is often misunderstood, sometimes to the point that people don’t believe it exists in the world today. In fact, Vipassana meditation spells out a clear practice that leads to enlightenment in an achivable manner. From his own experience, Daniel approached it with determination and effort, but found it less challenging than getting his medical degree.

The concept behind Vipassana meditation is that suffering exists, and, and starts at the level of sensations in the form of craving or aversion. The meditation is cultivating a practice of observing these sensations — that is, learning how to observe without reacting with craving or aversion, such that your suffering will be eradicated. How cools is that?

As a side effect, I’ve found when I practice, my mind is more calm, and I approach my day with more equanimity, being able to handle situations that arise with greater clarity… and less of the “why did you do this to me?” kind of junk which sidetracks the mind from functioning rationally. Yea. Cool.