Selfishness, it’s not just for Christmas

Self Indulgence, every day? I’m in!

One day, decades ago, I was standing on a beach with my film camera waiting patiently for what looked to be a pretty cool sunset in the offing. It was freezing as I waited for the sun to go down; my feet were cold and my shoulders were hunched against the winter wind.

Then, as I stood there, I had a realization, an epiphany really: I was never so physically uncomfortable while at the same time having so much damn fun!

Fun, a great concept. It’s addictive and beneficial.

I’m new to this blogging so be patient dear reader. I’m only a tiny voice in the vast wilderblog hoping to add just a little to your reading and image viewing experience.

I will respect the time and attention you honor me with and I will make every effort to make it worth your while.

I’m retired as is my girlfriend, Cheryl. We are partners in selfish pleasures. We live in Long Beach, NY. And we get high…on doing fun.

First, I take pictures as you have deduced. I enjoy looking at still photos but most of all I love taking them. It’s a passion to me, but most of all, immense fun. That’s really why I do it, for the fun and satisfaction it provides.

Many thousands of photo-framed moments have come and gone  since that day on a cold shoreline but the magic I see is still there, in the world around me and also in my little magic camera box. Every day I’m like a kid on Christmas morning playing, for the very first time, with the toy he’d always hoped for and finally received.

Sometimes photography takes me to mundane places where wonder is hidden and which only the  curious and incurably tenacious will discover. I love to search for the wonder. I have vistas near and far, from the tiny grids of our terrace screen, the open web of a fisherman’s net, to the majestic Manhattan skyline, I love shooting it all.

Dragonfly 2 DSC_8377

This dragonfly landed on our terrace screen. Great macro photo op.

A fisherman through his fluke net. He didn’t have a computer so I sent him photos via snail mail. Costco’s a bargain for it, no postage or handling. The fisherman has the photos on his fridge.

skyline Manhatan 200 resDSC_2315

Manhattan sunset, from our Long Beach, NY terrace.

When I’m on the beach I take shots of surfers, fishermen, kiters and kayakers. I email the photos to them. If they don’t have a computer I snail mail the prints to them. Low cost to me, big high for me.

Cheryl and I are hooked on getting these highs. No, this is not huge philanthropic giving, just tiny gestures  of good will to other human beings. 

Ah ha, you feel I’ve betrayed you. You think, “This was to be about selfishness and now he’s talking altruism”. But read on.

We do feel in the big scheme of things, this little stuff makes a difference. Yeah, we do it for that but we do it for ourselves too. We just get a lot of pleasure doing little things for others. I strongly suspect all of you have given, helped, donated and felt that unmistakable lift. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a great high.

It might be an acquired taste for some, like scotch. I used to be  among the legion of scotch aficionados but initially, like many others, I felt it tasted like medicine. For some it actually became their “medicine.”

This selfishness can be “medicine” too. It can keep you feeing pretty damn good.

Now, this “good feeling” can be addictive so be warned. After you become used to its effects you may want it again and again.

Should that happen, don’t go cold turkey. If someday you find yourself feeling low, go for a good hit and do someone a favor. If you’re particularly depressed do a couple of lines of donations to the very, very poor.

But it can be a part of your daily life, you can maintain the working level and just be a social giver.

One small example:

During the course of this past year Cheryl has developed the habit of taking photos of people’s houses while she walks our pooch, Bailey, especially homes that have gone to the trouble of presenting a nice garden.

Then she gives the photos a snap of charm, putting a sketch effect to them. She then drops the prints off in the mailboxes of the homes. Sometimes she even mounts the photos onto magnetic strips and encases the project in plastic to make a nice refrigerator decoration.

Inspired by Cheryl, this Christmas season I started taking photos of houses decorated with lights.

The American flag flying always gets my attention. So, one day I spotted a flag flying amidst the Christmas decorations of a home nearby. I started shooting.

Then, as I walked with Bailey I kept stopping to take more shots again and again. Bailey would lose patience from time to time tugging my arm, sometimes causing camera shake but I persevered.

Cheryl later did her magic to my photos. Then we jumped into the car with prints in hand and a note of thanks to the homeowner for brightening our town.

I drove up one street and down another with Cheryl scooting out to the various mailboxes. It was fantastic holiday fun, beats caroling I’ll tell ya and many victims of my voice can swear to that.

We received an email soon after that rewarded us for our efforts:


Thank you so much for the photos of our lights and your kind note.  It meant so much to us that you enjoyed them and took the time to let us know in such a wonderful way!

 I posted the story of this on my facebook page and all our friends were commenting on how awesome this is.  I was truly touched by what you did, I got a little teary eyed, and Ian (who does all the work of putting up those lights) had a great smile on his face to know that it was appreciated.
We love how the American flag is in the pic!  We lived in Island Park before Sandy and lost everything, since we were renters we could walk away and not have to rebuild, but we had made a decision we were not leaving the area, and miracously we found this apartment in Long Beach about 4 weeks after Sandy.  I was going thru chemo for colon cancer during this whole ordeal (I am now cancer free!), so much of the burden of “moving” was on Ian.  One of the very first things we did was buy our American flag and Ian made sure it was put up the same night we bought it, when he was done he turned to me and said now we are home.
You have a beautiful soul neighbor, thank you again.  I already decided the pic you sent us is going to be our Christmas card next year.
Merry Christmas to you and your family, your kind gift and words made our whole Christmas season.
Your neighbors,
Ian and Julianne
Bway house left orig

The American flag enhanced this Long Beach, E. Broadway home for Christmas.

Bway house left sketch

Cheryl’s sketch-effect to the patriot-family’s Christmas loving home.

 Cheryl and I feel pretty freaking good! I don’t think a bottle of Remy Martin could have done a better job. And we don’t have hangovers! Speaking of Remy reminds me of a Rumi quote Cheryl gave me: “Let the beauty you love be what you do”.
I still have about 15 Christmas house photos stacked next to me as I write that we’ll “post” today.
 But you see, this is just a Christmas party for us. But selfish fun can be yours all year round.  Just remember, help, share or donate responsibly. I wrote a sequel to this post called, “A Smile in the Light”:
Get high with us.
Be well,

Categories: Christmas

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2 replies »

  1. Reblogged this on leebythesea and commented:

    Faithful readers of This was my first blog post, Dec. 2013. I thought you might like to see it if you haven’t already and maybe revisit it if you did.
    Be well,


  2. What a wonderful M.O. You and Cheryl make such a difference in my life. The nice effect of what you and Cheryl do is more than just a moment of kindness…it repeats in my mind over and over. It’s like a warm hug when you’re cold and alone.

    Thanks for your selfish indulgences.

    With love,



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