Leaf In The Surf


One among many leaves that float on the surface of life, I ride the waves.

The calm—

meaningful conversations,

helping where help is needed,

Linda’s cooking; Graeter’s ice cream; Skyline chili,

researching and writing novels of the ancient Maya; visiting sites,

Scott Hamilton’s tenor saxophone; Barry Manilow; Andrea Bocelli

traveling backroads to photograph; making prints in the darkroom,

orange tabby cats,

The West Wing; Northern Exposure; Morgan Freeman’s Through The Wormhole,

The Life of Pi; Avatar; Singin’ In The Rain.

And the turbulent—

war; man’s inhumanity to man; intolerance

cruelty to animals,

not being able to help when help is needed,

health challenges,

loud music in malls; discordant jazz in bookstores,

loud talkers in restaurants; busers clearing gravy-stained plates near the table,

littering; line jumping; horn honking; cursing; telemarketing interruptions,

television ID’s in the corner of the screen; hype and destructive commercials

apocalyptic movies

On the surface I come to know who I am and where I fit.

Beneath the surface, I become aware of the depths; expanse, and it draws me.

Further down, there is stillness, the prospect of peace of mind.

Deeper yet, ironically, in darkness comes greater illumination.

Descending through the abismal plane, the adopted surface-self diminishes.

With no place to look and nothing to see, authentic self emerges.

At Tranquility Base, where not knowing is embraced, being takes precedence over doing.

There, aware of how much more there is—and how much more there is to me,

I rise to the surface with fresh insight: Though I am still a leaf, I am more the water.


You can’ t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.

Henry Louis Mencken

About This Image

Title: Leaf In The Surf

File #: 463-C4

Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

June, 1977

Although it has been many years since I made this photograph, I remember being reluctant to take my 2 1/4 Bronica to the beach. Even though you can’t see the sand in the air—it’s there. So on this occasion I kept the camera in a sealable plastic bag until the last minute when I saw a shot. The plastic enclosure emboldened me to get in the water with it.

So I was up to my knees in the surf around sunset when I saw this leaf bobbing up and down in the waves. I adjusted the settings while the camera was still in the bag, got into position, removed the camera and took the shot. The camera doesn’t have a built in exposure meter, so I made the best compromise I could between a shutter speed fast enough to “freeze” the leaf, and an aperture small enough to keep the background highlights sharp. Fortunately, it was a good guess. In my printing notes I identified it as “numinous,” an image that fed my soul. It still does.

2 thoughts on “Tranquility

  1. Beautiful Poetry. Lovely imagery.

    I think the image is greatly enhanced by the texture and naturalness of the silver grains…it’s like a third dimension.


  2. Your contemplation reads like poetry. It’s beautiful and I come to know you as an artist and person better. Beautiful. I love this image. It gives me a sense of peace and also, with those brilliant highlights, a sense of possibility and great hope. Love this post!



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