Tag Archives: hope

A Black Hole

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops the eye of a flower to represent the black hole that happens when a loved one dies, that happens when a writer falls into creative block.A black hole can happen when a star dies. It can happen when someone you love dies. And when artists or writers run out of inspiration, losing the ability to create new work, they may wail, “I’m lost in a black hole.”

In a black hole, the pull of gravity is so strong that nothing can escape it, not even light. Powerful tidal forces exert pressure that compresses matter, making it plunge at the speed of light, stretching it out lengthwise and squashing it sideways, tearing it to pieces, smashing, disintegrating, instantly incinerating and obliterating it to ashes.

I remember the early days after I lost my daughter. I remember the crushing feeling, the slow leaking of my energy, gravity ripping me apart. The hopelessness. My insides were imploding. I was alone. Aching. Trapped. Lost in a deep, dark, endless emptiness.

Black holes come in different sizes, from micro to supermassive, from death and grieving to creative block.

“If you feel you are trapped in a black hole, don’t give up. There is a way out,” says world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who has spent a lifetime studying black holes. But even he questions what kind of shape you, or any matter that gets sucked into a black hole, might be in upon escaping. Hawking says whatever gets freed from the hole is “for all practical purposes … useless.” Still, somehow, my hope survived my black hole. A battered ounce of hope is enough to fuel one forward.

Last week I started off my “new season” of photographic images. Taking cautious baby steps, keeping it simple, I photographed all sorts of orifices with my newly repaired, cleaned camera. Openings in foliage, depressions in trees, eyes of fall flowers… I made a circle. A square. And the beginnings of a plan to bring joy and color back into my life:

Start with a black hole. Put it in a box, to contain the chaos that might grow from it. Hug the negative space around it. Skirt the edges of its perimeter, aware it could suck in and swallow whatever approaches its point of no return. Surround it. Expand it. Drag it around and poke at it. Keep peeking into it to look for light. Learn to love the black hole that periodically pulls. And find new ways to fill it.

 

What can you do with a black hole? How can you fill it? Should black holes just be avoided?

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Moon Watching

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a full moon with flowers to celebrate the Full Flower Moon and Mother's Moon and Mars at opposition.

Bright light poured into the bedroom when I awoke in my mother’s house in the middle of the night. Street-lamps. Their white radiance puddled on car tops and on the newly paved street. I tiptoed from window to window, peeking beyond the glowing. The sky was a thick mass of clouds, as it had been most of the day.

“I wish we could see the moon, we’re missing the moon,” I’d announced before bedtime.

“May’s Full Moon was called the Full Flower Moon as well as Mother’s Moon,” according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. They’d promised a Full Flower Moon for Saturday night. A Mother’s Moon. How perfect that I was visiting my mother. Waiting for weeks in anticipation, I’d known it wouldn’t look any different from other moons. Farmer’s Almanac uses colorful Colonial and Native American names to track the moons in changing seasons. May marks a time of warming, blooming, increasing fertility. Bare trees were finally budding. Wild violets and fresh white trilliums dotted the slopes off woodland trails. The gray winter was really over.

For me, any light in May, even a street-lamp, is something to celebrate.

A Flower Moon. It was also a Blue Moon, the third full moon in a season of four full moons. And Mars was at its brightest and closest point to Earth in more than a decade. But Saturday night there was not even a hint of Mars, or the moon, in that dark sky.

Sometimes it’s the hardest thing to have faith that there will be light, that summer will come again, that there will ever be another beautiful bright time. But then, there are things that leave no doubts in my mind: I can’t always see the moon, but it is out there, somewhere. I can’t see my daughter who died, but I believe she is out there. Somewhere. Watching the moon. Watching me.

And somehow, through long winters and many moonless nights, a small light inside me stays aglow with hope.

 

What does a full moon mean to you?

 

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Robin Botie in Ithaca, New york, Photoshops her daughter who died of leukemia as a young girl surrounded by balloons

Positive Thoughts on Life

When the mud ices over and rain turns into snow, I think about the Balloon Girl. Not the girl who stood with outstretched arms, looking up at the balloon she lost. No. My head is filled with the image of the Balloon Girl who held onto as many balloons as she could and wondered how many more she could gather in order to fly.

In the dead of winter, what pretty things do you think about to lift yourself up?

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