Monday, September 30, 2013


Video by Billy Radd, Tone Drum by Anita Gayle


The gentlest thing in the world
overcomes the hardest thing in the world.
That which has no substance
enters where there is no space.
This shows the value of non-action.

Teaching without words,
performing without actions:
that is the Master's way.

From the Tao Te Ching by Lao-tzu
From a translation by S. Mitchell

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Little Yin In Your Yang?

A Yin & Yang pendant I recently made for Anita Gayle

In Taoist philosophy, Yin (negative) and Yang (positive) represent the two complementary forces that make up all aspects of life.
Yin and Yang, never static but in a constantly changing balance so that nothing is totally Yin nor totally Yang, are interdependent but cannot exist without each other.

Yin is a symbol of earth, darkness, passivity, absorption, slowness, softness, and thus, yielding, diffused, cold, wet, and passive, epitomized by even numbers, streams and valleys, and represented by the color orange. Yang is thought of as heavenly, light, active, fast, hard, solid, and thus focused, hot, dry, aggressive and penetrating, illustrated by odd numbers, mountains, and represented by the dragon, and the color blue.
Yin and Yang symbols typically have a small dot of each opposite color contained within the other's larger colored area to symbolize that there is a bit of yin within yang and visa versa. This is meant to be a reminder that all of existence is constantly evolving and changing. And, that each side always contains the potential of the other, as night turns into day and day into night.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Big Plan

The Big Plan

The here and now has to be
There is no judge, there is no "me"
It's only the present in which we live
What's past is gone,
the future's a myth
Deal with the present because you can
Deal in the present
There is no plan

-Billy Radd

Yesterday, I noticed a very small insect about an inch and a half long that appeared to be floating in the air outside the sliding glass door of our home. When I looked closer, I could see that it was sitting on top of an intricate web that an enterprising arachnid had constructed to snare its share of the many small insects inhabiting the woods we live in here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I noticed, also, the small web’s owner-operator spider sitting only a few inches from the gangly bug, watching intently as the insect, which, after some internet research, I identified it as probably being a male of the sub-species of Grass-like Mantid - Thesprotia graminis, related to the much larger praying mantis most of us can readily identify and enjoy seeing in our gardens.

This mantis seemed to be on top of the diaphanous web, not struggling to free itself, and actually seemed to be enjoying the view of our yard from the web’s vantage point. I took a few still pictures of the bug. Then, my wife and I had lunch, not really thinking about this common occurrence at our back door which likely repeats many times throughout the summer with usually the same outcome.

But, after lunch, I returned to check on our mantis neighbor to find him becoming more entangled in the web while the spider still observed patiently from a short distance letting his web do its work. This time, I shot some video shots of the mantis as it methodically tried to free itself from the sticky web almost like a ballerina carefully unlacing her dance slippers. It’s actions had a distinctly human quality that reminded me of my 45-year career as a commercial film and video maker, and how concentrating on the moment-at-hand is what life is about, which was the working method that my coconspirators and I employed in accomplishing many original, high-quality results. 

Watching the little mantis also illustrated to me that trying to maintain simplicity in one’s  intentions, actions, and material wants is very advantageous in live since they all tend to create a complicated, interlaced web that is difficult or impossible to disassemble.

After shooting the video for a while I left the mantis and spider to conclude their drama without my observance, and instead wrote a short poem about the big plan, and edited a short video posted here.

I don’t know if the mantis survived his personal struggle against his entanglements, but ultimately, who does?