“Doing” and “Being”

This morning I realize that one of the ways I have limited myself was to buy into the belief that I needed to “earn money.” I realize that the most successful things financially in my life have been things I did “for fun” and ended up by serendipity being financially successful.

I can even start with my doing a PhD in physics — that started with my liking to tinker with things, like taking apart a flashlight over and over as a child, fascinated with how it worked. Then choosing to major in physics in college because I had so much fun doing the lab experiments and being invited to help teach the lab sessions while I was still an undergraduate. And we physics majors had to take a shop class — learning to use hand and power tools — how many girls got to do that back in the early 1960’s!!! — more fun.

sign on the door of the machine shop at Mount Holyoke college
lamp whose base (wood and brass) I turned on a lathe in the physics shop in 1963

Then I went to grad school and worked on bubble chamber experiments at big particle accelerators because of how much fun I had back in college when a professor took some of us physics majors to visit an accelerator and help with an experiment he was working on. The money for grad school came from stipends I got as a teaching assistant and then a research assistant. I enjoyed teaching the lab sessions for the undergraduate physics course, as I had done while my undergraduate years.

particle tracks in a bubble chamber – charged particles travel in a curve because of the strong magnetic field around the chamber

Then there is photography — I was given a simple brownie box camera when I was about 13.

the first photo I made in 1955 with my brownie box camera — no controls other than shutter buttton

Then I was given a good 35mm film camera when I was in college. A boyfriend in grad school got me started making black-and-white prints in a darkroom. I enjoyed wandering around making photos of whatever caught my eye — no particular “reason” for making those images. Photographing kept me out in nature during grad school, and student art sales gave me an outlet for my creations.

old cars in a Colorado mining town, while on a ski trip with my photographer boyfriend – 1966

Then my time with Gia-fu Feng led me to illustrate with my photos our edition of the Chinese classic, Tao Te Ching.

cover of the original 1972 edition of Tao Te Ching — the 2011 edition is still in print

And how is it that I found my Native American friends? By being drawn to their spiritual ceremonies that happened out in nature rather than in churches — sweat lodges, sunrise ceremonies and long silent walks. These took me to a more expanded state of being than what I had found while photographing nature.

cover of my “work-in-progress” book

There is more history I will write — but at this moment I want to look at “now”

I have a hard time with “work,” with “labor” — is that due in part from my “native” culture? with how I was born with no labor? I hesitate to speak of this, not wanting to be seen as lazy, not wanting to feel guilty for not being purposeful. But this difference comes to mind over and over. I am tired of trying to fit into a culture that is not my own, that of assuming work is virtuous. I much prefer the smile that comes to me when I let myself just “be,” when I sit back and take in this world I find myself in — for instance, how did there get to be chickadees in my world — ones I see close-up on the shelf feeder outside the window behind my living room couch?

And then there’s that deep blue in the sky — so luscious!

And I have noticed that often when I am in this state of just “being,” paradoxically, I find myself moved to “do” something — action that just emerges naturally, that is not forced.

Enough words for now — enjoy feeling whatever it is that these musings of mine “tickle” within your own being.

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