Tag Archives: psychology

Beauty’s Intoxicating Feeling

The enjoyment of beauty has a peculiar, mildly intoxicating quality of feeling. Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.

–Sigmund Freud

So, as winter sets in and the trees rest in their dormant shade of gray,  memories of summers past and summers to come beguile the time.

Kensington Park, Michigan

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Photo Challenge, Serene: Seeing into the Life of Things

While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
–William Wordsworth

What a treasure to have such a serene place only a short distance away.

Photo Challenge:  Serene 

camus invincible summer

Fleming Creek, Michigan

WPC: A Serenity More Profound and Emotions without Words

Forthwith a change came over the waters, and the serenity became less brilliant but more profound.
—-Joseph Conrad

The Au Sable River in northern Michigan always brings to mind memories of boyhood vacations, now viewed from the serenity of distance, but on a summer’s day still calling up emotions without words.

Photo Challenge:  Serene 

au sable river, michigan

Au Sable River, Michigan

Photo Challenge: That October Glow in the Forest

When autumn visits the Michigan woods, the season bring its own special glow.  Golds replace greens, and the sunlight takes on a shimmering quality.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
Anne of Green Gables

Photo Challenge:  Glow

 

near Newburgh Lake, Michigan

 

 

Leadership, Love, and the Last Full Measure of Devotion

Fugitive slaves seek the Promised Land

Abraham Lincoln’s expressive face impressed  an author who remembered  Lincoln’s gray-brown eyes as perhaps the saddest he had ever seen. “Yet, when a good story was told,” the author recalled, “whether by himself or another, his homely face lighted up till he was positively handsome.” In a largely pre-photographic world, however, the American people would come to know their president’s human quality  by his moral courage and empathy.

As the green  leaves of summer  took on fall colors in 1862, one year after the Civil War’s opening battles, Lincoln’s courage and political judgment faced a defining  test. The president announced, on the eve of a critical election, that he would issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which would put slavery on the path to extinction.  Significant numbers of the  North’s white voters, harboring visceral racial prejudices, despised the Proclamation. Even moderate Republicans balked over this issue. As a result, Lincoln’s party suffered major losses in that fall’s Congressional elections.

Why had not Lincoln, arguably American history’s shrewdest politician, waited until after the elections for his unpopular move? Certainly, that has been the course taken by  recent presidents. Yet, Lincoln knew that the loyalty and trust of the common people was an asset to be valued far above rubies, in the words of Proverbs, and not to be wasted  buying electoral advantage with dishonesty. If the nation were to endure the Civil War, he needed the people’s  trust. Indeed, for the coming trial by fire, Lincoln needed to win their love. Losing Congressional seats was simply the price that had to be paid to strengthen Lincoln’s bond with the people–as someone who meant what he said. Such is the sterner stuff of which leadership is made.

It does not surprise us to learn that when the Union cause was at its low ebb, the common people, though war weary, retained their personal affection for  Lincoln. Their faith in him endured, even during the  summer of 1864, when the casualty lists from the murderous battles in Virginia brought sorrow to every crossroads hamlet and town in the North. Their ranks dwindling daily, the toughest soldiers on the planet, the Union’s Army of the Potomac, still knew Lincoln simply as Father Abraham. Their chosen name for him testified both to their religious faith and their love for their commander. The reverential term, used by black and white soldiers alike, expressed as clearly as a bell that true leadership’s touchstone is love. With this emotional bond, Lincoln’s soldiers gave their last full measure of devotion, winning for the nation a new birth of freedom.

Ghosts in an Attic….Memories of Lake Superior

Lake Superior, Whitefish Bay

A late summer’s drive through the tractless forest  of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula led me to renew acquaintances with Lake Superior, following our separation of decades. On a remote beach, the smallest of waves lapped ashore, and the cobalt blue inland sea reached the horizon to the east and north. As ghosts from behind an attic door, wisps of memories slipped out. My thoughts returned to a train trip with my mother on the legendary Canadian Pacific Railway, and a boy staring in wonder into the inky black night, the great cliffs of the Canadian Shield brooding over Superior’s dark waters.  And of breakfasts in the dining car with white linen on the table and a waiter with a Quebec accent, the train wheels clattering over the rails, a small lake appearing suddenly out of the primeval forest, a ghostly mist rising off the dark brown water as gaunt pines watched. As quickly as they had surfaced, the boyhood memories disappeared back into the cobalt blue Superior, leaving the man to contemplate the years gone by and feel the spirit of renewal.

Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan