Insights / Kodiak, AK

When did you last spend time being quiet?

Alaska nature photography

On a clear, crispy winter morning, I’d just finished taking pictures of hoar frost. Fairyland stuff. I’m trying to do what feels right. And you? Are you walking each day? Learning how to knit? Adding kale to your smoothies?

Before you dive headlong into your new year’s resolutions, I’d like to encourage you to embrace changes that simplify–not complicate–your life.

Sometimes we overlook this step because we’re excited to make things happen.

The Three Hermits

Taking pictures of hoar frost reminded me of a story by the great novelist Leo Tolstoy. A delightful folktale, The Three Hermits.

Summarized, it goes something like this:

On an island there lived three old hermits. They were so simple, that the only prayer they used was: We are three; Thou art Three; have mercy on us!” Great miracles were manifested during this naïve prayer.

One day, the local bishop heard about the three wizzled hermits and their inadmissible prayer. So he decided to pay them a visit to teach them the proper invocations. He hired a boat and sailed to the island.

“That is not the right way to pray,” he told the hermits. “Your heavenly petition is undignified. I will teach you the customary prayers.”

It was dark by the time the bishop returned to the boat. The captain unfurled the sails and off they went.

Partway across the moonlit sea, the bishop turned around and saw, following the vessel, a radiant light. As it approached, he recognized the three hermits. They were holding hands and running across the water as if it was dry land.

“We forgot the prayers you taught us,” they cried as they reached the boat. “Please repeat them for us.” The awestruck bishop shook his head.

“Dear ones,” he replied humbly, “continue to live with your simple prayer!”

What I learned from Tolstoy’s folktale

When I look through my camera, I apply the essence of the hermit’s prayer: Remove clutter (simplify)to reveal what matters most in the photo.

So, take a few minutes to ask yourself: “Do my daily choices allow enough quiet time? Is my life becoming more simple or complex?”

My hope for you

There is no right or wrong answer here. But the only way you’ll get clarity is to first be honest and give yourself the space to think about what matters most to you.

Leave a comment below and let me know. What matters most to you?

Love from Kodiak, Alaska!

More stuff you might enjoy:

Funny photo: Why sea otters put on a happy face.
Photo essay/blog post: When celery is cloaked with diamonds.
Your next travel destination: Kodiak, Alaska: Alaska’s Emerald Isle

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

Marion Owen is a “Jill of all trades,” with 30 years of experience as a teacher and columnist. She’s on a mission to help busy people enhance their daily lives, condensing topics such as photography, cooking, and organic gardening into bite-size pieces.  Get her free 4-page “In Good Light: Photo Tips for Busy People” and feel newly recharged when taking pictures.




  • read more here
    November 25, 2020 at 7:50 PM

    Wooden household furniture possesses something quite natural about it.
    There is this sense of warmth, of nature and
    also of elegance that could be be discovered in hardwood household furniture.
    Hardwood is actually born from the earth. It feeds the fire, degenerates in to ashes and also
    blows away. It is actually incredibly near
    to the human life on earth. Might be actually that is
    why it resonates so much along with us. May be that is why
    you still get that warm sensation when you contact a rich mahogany workdesk.

  • Bill J Maynard
    January 8, 2019 at 10:44 PM

    That’s an excellent capture Marion, you amaze me with your macro capabilities.

    • marionowen
      January 9, 2019 at 12:43 AM

      Ohhh, thank you, Bill. I, uh, got a cold–and later, wet–belly from laying down in the frost for so long. Worth it, though. I love winter for many reasons…


Leave a Reply