After last week’s Southern Oregon Coast expedition with Colleen Miniuk, I got to spend three more days with my friend Amy. We stayed in a little house in Newport and had the luxury of some time to hike and chat. She knows that at such times, I sometimes think about the theme for my next post here. I gratefully give her credit for the idea on this one.
Colleen set the stage for our wanderings by talking about this life philosophy; saying yes. She reminded me that the first rule of improvisational theater is to say “yes, and…” This is the way of going forward into story, and ultimately into a rich joyful life.
She went on to talk about something she learned in writing workshops with Craig Childs (whose writing I adore). He says, apparently, that the way to have experiences that create stories is to put yourself in interesting situations where things are likely to happen. Courage. This reminds me of a good friend who, I'm sure, will be thinking of the story even before he’s sure he’ll survive unscathed. He’ll recognize himself, I know.
If I’m honest, I’ll say that my first reaction to something new is likely to be a “no.” I’m not proud of this, but it comes from aspects of my upbringing. One of the privileges of middle age is to recognize our biases and work around them. Just because my first reaction is negative doesn’t mean I have to stay with it.
If I had any doubts that I should write on this theme, a bit of serendipity convinced me to forge ahead. Two days after I got home, once the laundry was done and bills paid, I stumbled on a Netflix video from Brené Brown in which she talks about courage. Specifically, she persuaded me that courage is only possible with risk and uncertainty. In short, we must be vulnerable to be courageous, and that’s scary.
Saying “yes” in my creative life might include going to a location which requires a little courage, pushing past the desire for comfort (laziness), or curiosity and experimentation.
On this trip, I worked on some more abstract images. The stunning reflection in this image lasted all of twenty seconds so I only got one chance. It’s a little different for me artistically, and I really had to work on the “yes” which was showing it to the group. This one paid off, with kindness and support from my fellow travelers. Brené Brown does make the point, though, that when you’re committed to being vulnerable in this way you’re going to fail, a lot, and that perhaps having taken the risk is the real success.
A disclaimer; there are some things that the “yes” should not be. It is not, to quote The Eagles, “everything, all the time,” nor is it a sort of manic forging ahead without pause. Though Colleen loves to say, “you can sleep when you’re dead,” I’m enough of a sleep junkie that sometimes I’d best say “yes” to the nap.
We had a very windy, socked-in evening at Face Rock Beach in Bandon. We all bundled up and hesitated at the top of the stairs to the beach. I probably won’t take any pictures, I thought, but I’ll carry my gear down there and just have the experience. Sometimes I have to accept the challenge in stages. I did shoot, of course, and ultimately I found some things I really liked. The best of those is this long-exposure shot. I needed to hold my tripod to keep it from blowing away.
Another morning the full moon was setting over the ocean. Once I realized that I could catch it in the notch of the arch rock, I shook off my native laziness and jogged down the beach in time to capture this, one of my favorite images of the trip.
With the full moon comes excellent low tides. At Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (yep, that’s really what the sign says) the tide pools are fabulous, but slippery. When you add to that the need to get me and my tripod low on the rocks and cast shade to eliminate glare, it’s a bit of a contortionist act. I’m so glad I did, though.
Cape Kiwanda was an enroute stop for Amy and me. We didn’t expect to find such great shooting there, but the angry skies and ocean were irresistible, despite the need to scramble on the rocks as the tide came in. It was a black & white shoot, any joyfully so.
Sometimes I must stop and shoot even when the setting is absurd. The lilies were planted just outside the restrooms at Shore Acres State Park. Don’t tell.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport was a convenient grey-day stop and gave us a great opportunity to photograph captive shorebirds. Puffins are irresistible. We said “yes” to something rather off the beaten path of nature photography.
And, just between you and me, making my writing public in this way feels rather vulnerable as well. Thanks for riding along for the failures as well as the successes.
More images are in the Pacific Northwest Gallery on the website.