Tag: Underwater Photography

Vision of the Path

Vision of the Path

It’s easy to write about beauty and adventures into underwater places. That’s my happy place…the blissful realm where I feel more myself than when walking on two legs and land-bound. But when I find myself feeling consistently stuck, it’s not so easy to put into words the experience of knowing the gifts I have to give are not being fully utilized, especially when our society needs more expression of beauty and especially more expression of Ocean beauty. After all, the Ocean is our life-source.

Recently I read an article where photographer and writer Cristina Mittermeier was interviewed. She said, “But I think the thing that I was most afraid of was becoming the most mediocre version of myself.”  I realized that’s where I’m stuck….in this mediocre me. And this terrifies me because I see the incredible need our planet has for everyone that feels the call to help, to step forward…to leap forward and give the best of themselves.

It’s interesting to share the feeling of being stuck with friends. Most want to talk me out of my feelings, convince me otherwise by listing what I do. In a conversation with one of my precious friends last night, she was listing my accomplishments and I felt anger….I know what I do….but I feel stuck! Her beautiful supportive words cannot erase my experience, my knowing that I can do so much more…the feeling of being not quite where I know I can be is very challenging to wrestle with and I expect many of us feel this way.

I want to help! I want to show the world the beauty of the Ocean! The fragility of it. The delicate balance we dance when we ignore the warning signs. So where are the open doors? And why am I stuck? Finally….understanding is dawning.

Years ago I met a guy. We ‘clicked’ and the vision of my path included him…in a very powerful way. We went on dive trips, shared cycling adventures, and he was the biggest believer in my path and work I had ever known. He saw me and the work I felt called to do like no other. The path, the vision I held so strongly, was us moving forward together.

Five years have passed since we last saw each other and there have been Ocean adventures with humpback whales, sea lions, whale sharks, dolphins…incredible encounters…and these experiences have led to books and presentations and the work going out into the world. And that’s awesome! But the feeling of being stuck continued until last night when I realized I had not updated the vision of my path. In some way I was attempting to live now with an outdated script.

It’s like operating your computer with an old operating system. The new input can’t work in the old system. At some point you have to remember to update the OS and reboot. Then all the new information coming in can work smoothly, effortlessly.

I wonder how many of us operate with old visions of what we want for our lives. When something works and we feel the power of it and set the course for our lives energy rushes in to fill the dream with power. Sometimes…and perhaps many times….we forget to update our vision, our dreams, when circumstances change. We forget to update the operating system. And then the ‘computer’ freezes.

One of my favorite writers said if you believe what you are doing is really powerful, the thought forms you construct will come clear and be highly dynamic. If you have no real faith in what you are doing, your thought forms will have no clear outline. Dion Fortune wrote this during World War II when meditation groups joined together to keep Hitler from invading England….before quantum physics told us that our thoughts are impulses of energy that affect our lives in a powerful way.

Perhaps I depended on my best friend, husband, partner and dive buddy to keep me on track by his incredible support. When that was gone I was lost. And that’s exactly how my path has felt….like I was space-walking with no gravity to pull me toward a destination.

The solution? First, realize that I needed a new vision. Then, commit fully to what I believe in and believe in myself and the vision of my life….the new vision I am creating. What about you? What is the vision for your life? When is the last time you uploaded a newer version and rebooted your life? Let’s do it and get on with the work at hand. We’ve got a lot to do.



As I was cycling today I dropped into inner stillness. As I pedaled and pondered, realization dawned. The angst over the past several months is rooted in a feeling of concern that we will wake up too late.

When I was studying Outdoor Recreation and Resource Management at Auburn many years ago, the curriculum took me on a journey through the great conservationist’s efforts. I read of John Muir who journeyed on foot through the wilds of the Sierra Nevada and Alaska. I read about his walk from Indiana to the Florida Keys in 1867. Through his diary entries the sacred beauty he experienced in Nature as well as the heartbreak he felt at the destruction of vast lands to fill pockets of the wealthy was evident. His writings heavily influenced the creation of places we now know as Yosemite National Park, Sequoia, Mount Rainer, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon and more.

Film maker Ken Burns had this to say about him: “As we got to know him he ascended to the pantheon of the highest individuals in our country; I’m talking about the level of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Thomas Jefferson and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jackie Robinson–people who have had a transformational effect on who we are.” Muir’s writings inspired Teddy Roosevelt to create conservation programs and the first national monument…Yosemite National Park.

As I reflect on his life, John Muir reminds me that one person can indeed make a huge difference. Activism, people caring enough to be involved in whatever way their passion leads them is what makes a country great. Not hate, not violence. Love….for places, people…whatever the heart whispers.

And then after lunch I read where the new US government administration wants to allow oil and gas drilling in these sacred lands that John Muir lovingly championed in the late 1800’s. I was torn between wanting to: 1) Scream at the greedy individuals ‘leading’ our country into darkness; 2) Express shock at their unapologetic push to deregulate protection for our environment; and 3) Sit and wait for inspiration to come so I might be a person that makes a difference.

“There is nothing more eloquent in Nature than a mountain stream, and this is the first I ever saw. Its banks are luxuriantly peopled with rare and lovely flowers and overarching trees, making one of Nature’s coolest and most hospitable places. Every tree, every flower, every ripple and eddy of this lovely stream seemed solemnly to feel the presence of the great Creator.” Muir wrote this September 12, 1867 about a branch of the Clinch River in the Cumberland Mountains.

He wrote this about the Oneness of all life. “There is not a fragment in all nature, for every relative fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself. All together form the one grand palimpsest of the world.”

“Muir was a quintessential romantic frontier figure. Unarmed, carrying only a few crusts of bread, a tin cup, a small portion of tea, a notebook and a few scientific instruments, Muir walked into the vastness of the Sierras to search out truths. Single-minded, he did not hesitate to challenge the accepted authorities and their explanations regarding the wilderness he loved; he formulated his own theories and carefully searched out the evidence….he was an activist. He not only explored the west and wrote about its beauties–he fought for their protection….In the forests and national parks he helped to preserve, he gave the natural world back to the people of America.” Frank E. Buske wrote this in the introduction to Wilderness Essays.

Why are we so willing to have our sacred lands–set aside because of their beauty and uniqueness–raped and ravaged by greedy politicians and their backers? My heart is breaking as each day brings a new onslaught of attacks against our environment and the places held most sacred by those who saw this great country before it was developed. When we fail to remember history, we are destined to be destroyed by ourselves.

While I have screamed–and quite honestly scared my dog and cats and quite possibly the neighbors–and I have expressed shock to my friends and companions, today I find myself more at peace with waiting…for inspiration, the right door opening, the right phone call that leads to opportunity to share my work with more people.

I long to wander like Muir and connect with the magnificence of Nature and feel first-hand the spark of the Divine that lives within all life. And like him, write with passion to inspire others to care. And with my cameras capture the essence of life that shines so brightly if we take the time to see it in a flower, a stream, a dolphin, a frog, a mountain.

It may seem as if I am doing nothing sometimes but this pause reminds me: I am like an arrow being slowly drawn through a bow. With steady determination and a sense of purpose my work will find its mark. Let us remember that everything we do makes a difference. We are part of the solution. Let us rise up to protect that which we love.

Enter the Light

Enter the Light

_tsl8194Can’t recall ever having as much fun diving as I did the past four days. I was thinking….so many dives….over 600 in the past 15 years….but these last ones have been off-the-scale fun. Why is that?

_tsl8205I’ve done cave and cavern dives many times, have been to beautiful ocean destinations…what’s different this time?

_tsl8199Perhaps it was having the opportunity to be with one other person, a fantastic guide, and experience the freedom to play in the water–taking time with light beams or formations of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Nobody rushed me or pushed me to move if I was engrossed with something that captured my attention.

Before we began our diving, I told *Daniel that my goal was to have fun and take photographs. I wasn’t interested in anything else. Play was my objective.

More than once while diving I noted how fun it was to be underwater, underground and have my camera kit with me. Not a passing thought but a real fire of playfulness within that ignited passion for the work I do.

_tsl8196The mornings were filled with clear water, diving into cenotes filled with magical formations and ‘working’ to capture their beauty through the art of photography. The afternoons were filled with processing images and realizing that I was indeed capturing the beauty I so deeply love and appreciate. It was a celebratory atmosphere!

_tsl8311There were no distractions. It was me and the sea whispering sweet sounds as I worked and celebrated the success of my endeavors. I’m an ardent perfectionist but even that part of my personality was deeply pleased with my efforts. Did hell just freeze over?

Connecting with the beauty of nature is why I get up in the morning. Through the arts of writing and photography I find the expressive pathway to share the magnificence of nature….of our water planet. The way I decide where to go is to simply listen with my heart. It always guides me true.

_tsl8212My heart always guides me to enter the light.

*Daniel Ortega Moran is based in Tulum, Mexico and is a wonderful person and dive guide. He’s a cave instructor as well…if you’re interested in learning more about diving underground.