I find myself thinking about resilience a lot at this time of the year. My students will take our state test next week and have been preparing for the test for the last couple of weeks. While they already have the knowledge and ability to do well on the test, the way that tests are administered requires my young students to have plenty of stamina and resilience to deal with the intensity of the situation. Long stretches of focus on a computer screen, sitting, and quiet are not natural for my learners. Neither are the pressures of time (even for an untimed test) or the inability to get coaching and reteaching when things feel hard.
I know that resilience can take many forms and be embodied in lots of ways. Maybe paying attention to resilience through my camera lens will somehow help me as I shepherd my students through testing next week.
This tree in front of my house often seems on the verge of collapse. When other trees have leaves and are green, this tree is bare. It has struggled with ivy trying to strangle the life out of it, and it still shows the scars. But this week I was reminded again of its resilience. I started to notice the green again, emerging delicately from the starkly empty branches. This tree seems to hang in there, always finding a way to survive, spreading it’s beautiful leaves above our driveway.
I also think about resilience when I watch seagulls. They are social, smart, and adaptable…a lot like my students. They seem to play–with each other, with the wind currents, and even with people–engaging through vocalizations, flight, and sometimes even posing like these guys perched on the top of the play structure at our local beach.
I always think of native plants as resilient. The ones in our area thrive on low water and plenty of sun. They bend with the sea breezes and in years when water is plentiful burst into amazing displays of color. Yellow is everywhere right now and these native beauties are a common sight this year!
Surfers are a pretty resilient bunch too. They head out most every day regardless of conditions. I watch them warm up their bodies on the shore, running down the beach with the board under their arm, stretching arms and legs before plunging into the cool salty water. It’s less usual to see a surfer building rock towers on the shore…it definitely felt like a meditation…a way of decompressing and enjoying what nature offered up. Hmmm…makes me think of ways to encourage my students to decompress before each test and during breaks in the schedule…
And when I don’t get out onto the beach or away from work and home, I build my resilience as a photographer by paying attention to the things I see as I drive to and from work…or what I notice at work, like these creamy white roses that grow near the playground where I watch kids play on playground duty in the mornings. These white roses seem to be prolific, blooming regularly and then scattering their petals like confetti in the breeze.
I notice these drought-resistant tall purple stalks everywhere right now. There are some that grow on our school grounds and quite a few in my neighborhood. I wandered down the street not far from my house to see if I could capture the abundance of these tall stalks through my camera lens. It doesn’t quite capture the density and movement of these blooms, but maybe you’ll get the idea I was trying for.
And then on my own doorstep, in the bowl of cacti and succulents that has sat their for years now, my husband noticed the tiny cactus in bloom. I knelt low, pulled out my phone, and reveled at the beauty of the tiny flowers.
So, what does resilience look and feel like to you? Do you see it in the faces of children, the curves of fruit hanging on a tree? In the blossoms of a cactus or even ocean-smoothed rocks stacked in piles on the beach?
You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #resilience for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.
Grab your camera and take a look around for resilience. I can’t wait to see how you capture it through your lens! Wish my students luck with their testing…I have great faith in them.