No-Drama Life

One of the joys of being an artist is that the slow life is appealing. Yes, I am a workaholic and spend more hours at the computer than I’d like. But I also know how to go slow. The morning walk, the turning around and backtracking when something interesting catches my eye. Going slow allows surprise to catch up with you, allows you to confirm something you thought you almost saw.

This morning, I dragged the hose across the pool and set the sprinkler to water the potted plants at the edge of the pool. The shadow made by the random drops that fell in the pool sent me back for my camera.

I would have missed it, if I hadn’t looked over my shoulder.

A few weeks ago, a caring, thoughtful person steamed asparagus for dinner, and I was enchanted by the color. She pulled one out of the steaming pot, and I caught it with a drop of water near the top.

The color alone was worth asking someone I had just met to let me photograph dinner in the making. We both laughed, surprised, I think, that the other didn’t mind asking to slow down and notice.

I have a growing cactus in the front yard. A few weeks ago, on my way out the door for a walk, the shape of one of the cactus pads caught my eye. Yep, it was heart shaped. I hadn’t noticed it before.

My life would be poorer had I missed these opportunities. It’s more than the glance. It’s a certain vulnerability that allows for permission to take the time to enjoy such an accident of nature and pull out the camera to catch it. In my case, it’s an iPhone, but I had to allow myself to be all right with not racing off, not staying on schedule. And allow myself the vulnerability of being amazed at nature time and time again.

There were many years in my life when I would have noticed but pretended not to. It wasn’t important enough. It wasn’t worth my time. But at night, before I fell asleep, I always regretted not allowing myself the simple permission of time to be slow. It was a hard lesson to learn, to give up speed for enjoyment.

I still work fast and hard, I’m sure I miss a lot. But I’m grateful for every second I catch and enjoy. I’m happy to give up the drama that made up a lot of my life many years ago. It was a considered decision. Frankly, the drama had a crackle to it that was tempting. In the end, I’m happier choosing to steer clear of drama and noticed the smaller, slower things. At least occasionally.

–Quinn McDonald is a naturalist for at least the first two hours of every day. Then she’s a creativity coach with a memory for beauty.












20 thoughts on “No-Drama Life

  1. Love these moments. I live this way more and more. I can’t “not” notice these things. Even when I’m driving down the road, I’m often noticing hummingbirds flying, shadows across buildings, etc… or, if I have my camera with me, I pull over along the street and photograph things! 🙂 Sometimes, people must think I’m odd at how giddy I get over stuff. Last week, I noticed a small cactus I have managed to keep alive for a couple of years, now has a baby arm starting to grow. I was practically doing a dance in my front yard pointing it out to a maintenance guy…. as if he were suppose to get as excited as I was! LOL! These are gifts from Heaven sprinkled throughout our days if we just pay attention. It’s like little oxygen pills… makes you breathe in deeper and enjoy life.

  2. I love what you said about teaching your children to notice what is around them. I refuse to allow the children to watch a DVD going down the road each day. In the process of them looking out the window, we see an occasional fox, coyote, numerous deer, turkeys and even eagles. One day I looked to my right while driving along the river and an eagle was flying even with the window about 100 feet away. It flew so slowly we passed it! My heart is pounding with the memory! My hope is that someday that memory will do the same for my children.

    • I could hug you. When I pass a van and see the glow of DVD in the back seat and kids staring at it, I feel sad. I know it’s easier and quieter for Mom and Dad, but it’s hard to care about the world when you never experience it first hand.

      • I found a way to keep them entertained in the van – books on tape are great! Except that sometimes they want me to drive awhile longer to hear what happens next!

  3. Great photos, Quinn…especially, for me, the shadows of the water….something about circles! I am a much better person when I am not in a rush. I really enjoy encouraging my children to notice the world around them. If I don’t teach them that, I’m pretty sure they won’t get it any other place!

  4. Quinn,
    I can so relate to the ‘being rushed’ issue; artist dates for me force me to slow down, take in the beauty and not feel guilty about it. I find myself inspired when I take the time to really observe, study and absorb my surroundings.

    I love the photos you share here. I agree about the color in the first one; it’s very paint worthy.

    Be refreshed,

  5. I love those little surprises. One morning earlier this spring I stepped onto a “lace” covered sidewalk formed by ice. I took a picture. Another great picture was one when I was driving towards a dreary sky in front of me but a glance in my mirror showed a beautiful sunset behind. That was a more difficult picture to get but I got it. Beautiful!

  6. Noticing the little things makes life more interesting. I too learned to do that with my children when they were small. Now as young adults, they will occassionaly point them out too me. In the meantime, I keep looking…..

  7. Spending my days with children accomplishes the same thing. My youngest is now past the toddler stage, but whenever I had a toddler I operated on toddler time, which meant building time into the day. The walk from house to car can take 20 minutes, because there is so much to notice on the way. By honoring *their* need to notice (for a decade now) I’ve slowed down, too. And while I’ve always been good at noticing (perhaps because even before having children many of my jobs involved learning with children, often outdoors), my own children have helped me notice even more.

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