Thursday, June 4, 2015


Awesome: Causing or inducing “awe”; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear.
I have always liked the term “awesome”.  It describes perfectly the feelings, both emotional and intellectual, one experiences when observing certain kinds of things. For example, in olden times, before we screwed up the atmosphere with pollution, it was possible to stand out at night, especially high in the mountains, and observe the Milky Way. Looking up was simply amazing.

Similarly, as I advanced through life’s various pathways, I encountered every now and again, that same special sense that I was witnessing something amazing—awe-inspiring . . . awesome.  Since I took up photography, I have been able to provide witness to at least a few of these special sightings, and they help to fill in my definition of this term, awesome. It is a shame that the term has been spoiled through inappropriate usage.  But it remains for me a special term that I illustrate below through some of my pictures. Note please, I do not suggest that the pictures are “awesome”. Rather they capture the sense of something I witnessed as awesome.

So, look on and help me to share with you my sense of this special term of art.

Beyond the stars and the Milky Way, seen above courtesy of the Hubble, I begin with scenes of the sun, either rising or setting. Some of these scenes are close, here in Concord, as in the one below, and some from far away. The sun setting on Kauai, for example, or monsoon sunsets in New Delhi. Sunrises, I have discovered, are every bit as magnificent as sunsets. Our daughter lives on the water in Montross, Virginia. She sees sunrises that are beyond amazing, as an almost daily occurrence.  And, when I stood on Tiger Hill, above Darjeeling at 9500 feet, to witness the sun rising over Mt. Kinchinjunga, it took my breath away.

 That grand place, called The Grand Canyon, is a wonderful sight that is hard to reduce to a photographic image. It is simply, too grand.

And once, while driving along the Columbia River Gorge, from Portland, to Mt. Hood, I came across one of the most beautiful 30 mile drives I have ever encountered.  The river, the waterfalls . . . all amazing.

A few man-made creations seem to qualify. Certainly, the Taj Mahal, seen at almost any time, but especially at first light and at full moon would qualify. The Daibutsu in Kamakura, Japan are wonderful, and when I came across the monument at Sanchi to the Buddha, I had to say, yes, this is awesome.

To conclude, perhaps one view of The Grand Tetons, that magnificent range in Jackson Hole seems appropriate.

How could I forget? This last illustrates perhaps best the special nature of this term. It is not reserved exclusively for the grand . . . meaning large. Yes, grand themes do indeed obtain much of the significance of the term awesome. But this last also qualifies perfectly.
A new life recently come into this world . . . a life with all its complexity, and its promise untouched yet by the rough and tumble of our lives on this planet . . . fresh, beautiful, still perfect . . .  in this case our youngest daughter, still very new to this world in 1966, with her Indian Godmother holding her closely. New lives . . . all new lives are precious, and . . . awesome.