Last month’s storm took its toll on Fort Smith. Workers are repairing the hail damaged homes, automobiles, traffic lights, and lots of other things that look like they’ve been chewed on by Godzilla. While it’s nice to think about how clean and fresh many roofs, signs, windows, and other stuff will eventually look with spiffy new face lifts, it frankly can be pretty disheartening to see the same hail damage day after day.
As a for instance, here are some close-up photographs taken late this afternoon around my home.
I didn’t have the heart to shoot the plastic on the west-facing windows…
Do you see the commonalities in these photos? All 4 are focused on one specific area. Three of the four were shot with the camera’s macro setting. Injured trees and siding. The siding can — and will — be repaired. With paint, materials, and labor. The trees will heal naturally. In a few years, the crape myrtle and the dogwood tree may show a few scars — if I look closely and try to remember the weird hail storm of 2008. Anyone else looking at them in full bloom will only notice the colors and textures against the backdrop of the place I call home.
Let’s look at the same geographic place — my yard — from a different perspective. Again, with a macro focus.
Three of the 4 photos are of living things. They change with the seasons. The fourth is, quite literally, “solid as a rock.” Even the structure, though, changes with time. Subtly, to be sure. But it does change. I suspect it’s changed significantly in the past 2 or 3 weeks because the roofers who repaired my home unloaded 3 layers of shingles and put back just one layer. The house is quite literally lighter.
The first set of photos seems to be what I notice when I come home at night. The imperfections, the flaws, and the wounds are what I focus on as I walk around the yard. I feel frustrated, sad, and — with the cloudy and rainy skies above — I’m even a little anxious at the thought of enduring another frightening evening in my bedroom closet. So should I be ashamed of my storm-ravaged house and city?
When I force myself to meander around my place one more time, I find beauty, life, and security — in the green mint, the mock orange blooms, the grass seeds, and the rocks.
I have a personal choice to make — right here in my own back yard. My own place. Will I continue to focus my eyes, my thoughts, and my concerns on old wounds, imperfections, and flaws? Or will I work a little harder to celebrate the miracles of life and unique qualities and workmanship that give me a very personal experience that is like no other place on earth?
Place, it seems, can provide us with very powerful lessons in living our lives — we can make ourselves miserable by focusing solely on what’s wrong, or we can celebrate what we have. The latter gives us the energy and the momentum to fix what’s broke. It’s the source of joy to improve on pride.
Another photo — a macro focus on the “forest for the trees” adage.
This is a street view of my home. Because of the limited perspective, you probably still don’t know where I live. It’s not the “normal” perspective you’d have if you cruised by my house. Again, the macro focus can be frustrating.
I wonder if one can find joy in a place without truly understanding and appreciating layers of perspective — thinking about the past, the future, appreciating both a bird’s eye view, a worm’s view, and even a Google Earth perspective.
Speaking of history, my Daddy made this sign for me several years ago.
It’s my touchstone — a strong connection to Mount Carmel, Arkansas in Independence County. My Papaw owned this property for many, many years. It was the home place he and Mamaw always dreamed of.
My little plot of ground in Fort Smith is, in turn, the home place I’ve always dreamed of. Hail damage and all.