Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

(Phantomimic,**–a blogger who writes essays, poetry, and fiction–provides this guest post. In it, Phanto describes how unique circumstances make an ordinary day a little more special. Please read, enjoy, and  comment!)

I want to thank Sweepy Jean for the offer to post as a guest here. I chose the following true story, I hope you like it.

A few days ago I was busy working in my cubicle at my day job. I had been staring at the computer screen for two hours non-stop so I did something I often do. Still sitting down I stretched and looked up at the wall above my desk. To my surprise I saw something I had never seen before in the thousands of times I looked up at that wall over the ten plus years I have been working at that desk.

I saw shadows of leaves and branches. They were silently swaying up and down as if moved by a gentle breeze. I must have stared at them for a whole minute before it dawned on me that these shadows could not be the result of direct sunlight unless the sun was near the horizon. Not only was the time of day wrong for that (it was about 4 PM) but our work building is in a neighborhood surrounded by houses and trees: you can’t see the horizon.

Photograph by A.O. Used with permission.

I called my co-workers who, probably eager for a break themselves, flocked over to my cubicle to admire the shadows. One of them took pictures, including the photo shown above. We then went to the window to try to locate the source of the light for the shadows and we found it. A car some 200 feet away on the street had one of those reflecting silver sunshades covering the inside of the front window. The sun reflected off it at just the right angle and the light beam was intense enough for some leaves from a nearby tree to cast their shadows above my cubicle.

In my excitement I even went outside to the parking lot and covered the car’s window with my jacket. One of my co-workers gave me a thumb’s up sign from inside the building indicating that the shadows had disappeared. Thus we had correctly identified the source of the light (here I should probably clarify that we are scientists). When I returned to my cubicle, everyone had gone back to work but I sat down and stared at the peaceful swaying shadows of the leaves until the sun had moved on, leaving behind the usual bland white wall that normally greets my stare.

Then I pondered, what were the odds of that happening? That car with the right sunshade parked at the right place. The light of the sun reflecting off it at the correct angle and intensity, hitting the leaves being moved by the breeze in front of the window next to my cubicle. And last but not least, me being present and looking up at the right time.

Now comes the part where I end this with a deep metaphor-laden paragraph or two about the ephemeral, the improbable, and how we tend to overlook the simple things that bring joy to our lives and inspiration to our writing. However, everybody and their dog have already written something to that effect, so I will just finish with a short poem.

In the wear and tear of the daily grind
A series of implausible events
Align themselves

The dark shapes of leaves intrude
Into my labor regaling me
With pleasant images

That evoke light, and wind, and life
Reminding me, that I work to live
Not live to work

According to Phanto: “I am Phantomimic, the peculiar eclectic writer.” Phanto also says, “Life is dull without whimsy.” 

Website – Phantomimic’s Website
Twitter – @phantomimic
Facebook Fanpage – Phantomimic

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2011


Comments on: "Shadow of Leaves on a Wall" (28)

  1. Your poem makes the case very well, Phanto. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routine but our lives are much more than that. I can almost see the swaying of the leaves in the photo. Thank you so much for this delightful guest post. I will be using it as inspiration as I go through the work week!

  2. Lovely and true post but you should of got your work-mate to do shadow puppets!!!!


    • Hmmm…maybe we should have but I guess we were too busy looking at the shadows and figuring out the light source. Maybe next time! : ^ D

  3. Great observation by you. We sometimes see without really noticing. By the way in my photography I bounce light off many things even the groom white shirt to put a little more light on the bride!!!!


    • Thanks, and yes I have read that using bounced light is a very complex art quite different from normal lighting. So these were shadows created by bounced light! : ^ D

  4. Great post. I loved the poem at the end. May we always live to live…to experience anew every moment what the blessings of life are offering us.

    • Thanks, the funny thing is that I WAS going to write a deep metaphor-laden paragraph or two at the end, but I could not think of anything original. Then the poem jumped into my mind and that is how it ended.

  5. Wow that must have been almost unearthly! It surely is a sign indicating your poem “Reminding me, that I work to live, Not live to work” – I am reminded too!

    • It is too easy to get lost in the daily drudgery and lose track of the nice things in life. I know some people that live to work. That is all they do, and all they are: sad.

  6. The pause that refreshes. Great reflection – from the car window but from you as well.

  7. Cathy Beebe said:

    Thanks for the reminder to slow down, in this fast paced world and look around.

    • Alas, I admit that I often get caught up in the fast pace of life too but moments like these remind me of the things I will miss if I don’t make an effort to slow down.

  8. A beautiful reminder that even during our mundane actions there is beauty….

    • And beauty can be an elusive thing. Many times you have to purposefully look for it to find it. But occasionally it comes out of nowhere and hits you in the head.

  9. Great post. Appropriate words, love your verses at the end so true. Made a mundane day a little more joyful, always a wonderful thing.

    • I have thought that it would be great if everyday could be like this, but I guess then we would not appreciate these events when they happen.

  10. That was an enlightening story! Just to think of how things happen on a daily basis and we can so easily overlook it. I really enjoyed my visit today 🙂

  11. To see more everyday miracles like this… what if your eyes had not been open? What is you’d failed to notice? Then we wouldn’t be witness to the charm, the magic, the wonder of your message.
    And to discover the source of the shadow and not become disenchanted, not lose your sense of awe, but turn the moment into art… hats off!

    • Thank you Debra! I find that discovering how things work makes them more appealing to me. Maybe because it makes me aware of how fragile and improbable they are.

  12. I absolutely loved this post…I have been caught in many moments like that. I call them moments of serendipity. I am glad the moment was not lost on you Phanto and you were able to enjoy the full measure of it.

    ~cath xo
    @jonesbabie on Twitter

  13. Real life special effects!
    Was it Einstein who said something about viewing ‘life as a miracle etc’?
    I liked how your appreciation was both scientific and artistic. Thanks!


    • Glad you liked it! The Einstein quote is: There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.

  14. It’s things like the reflections of leaves on the wall above your computer that enable us to re-engage with the outside world especially when stuck inside a building, a cubicle, a computer,or technology that separates us from it. That, in itself, was a small miracle come to brighten your day and remind you that you “work to live and not live to work.”

  15. Yes, I was particularly amazed by the way that light beam made it may its way to were I was. It was like a helping hand throwing me a rope to get me out of the bog I was stuck in!

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