Living the Miracle

Fishhook Barrel Cactus

Fishhook Cactus Patterns Β© 2011 Bo Mackison

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein

I think there might be a third way that Albert didn’t mention– trying to live your life as if everything is a miracle, but only succeeding part of the time because our human tendencies get in the way.

When I step on a cactus thorn in my stocking feet…because I was only going to take a few steps on the patio…and my sandals were in the front room…and I took the chance that there wouldn’t be any wind-blown cactus spines on my patio…and the cactus spines won… Well, then it is a bit hard to focus on the miracle of cactus spines.

When I am taking a macro-photo of a yucca plant, and I’m moving closer and closer a few inches at a time, and not paying close attention to where my body is is relation to where the sharp points of the yucca are, and I jab my stomach into five yucca stabbers, and end up having to search for band-aids because my stomach has tiny, bleeding puncture wounds in several places…well, then, once more, it is hard to focus on the miracle of those heavily armored desert plants.

But, when I am looking at a fishhook barrel cactus through a macro lens, and I see the delicate overall patterns, and the overlapping stickers all aligned like dancers in a tightly choreographed arrangement, and the contrasting pinks against the cactus greens, then once again, I see the miracle of each desert plant.

The miracle of life.


About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous capture revealing the intricate details intertwined. My, it has been awhile since I’ve been stabbed by a cactus spine. And it can really hurt…. a lot!

    I love this what you wrote: “I see the delicate overall patterns, and the overlapping stickers all aligned like dancers in a tightly choreographed arrangement…” Beautiful.

    Wonderful photo and post, I enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I love the patterns in the cactus plants. They make me forget everything as I try to capture what I see. And once in awhile, I forget just what I’m dealing with! πŸ™‚ Doesn’t hurt long–I just go find another cactus!

  2. The fishhook barrels have a very pretty spine pattern but they are really nasty to get tangled up in! They also have saved many lives because of the liquid that they store. It doesn’t taste good, but it does the job.

  3. Preston says:

    Sorry you stepped on a cactus fishhook thingie, bet it really hurt.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Wasn;t too bad, Preston. The cacti and I are on friendly terms. Hope you are feeling well these days!

  4. Gandalf says:

    I’d concur with your assessment regarding cactus spines. However, the fruits of your poke are certainly captivating.

  5. Joanne Keevers says:

    Poor Bo, perhaps you can focus on the miraculous side once the pain has subsided! Love the photo. I’ve noticed you have been able to show the gentle side of cactus plants quite often. πŸ™‚

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It wasn;t too bad, Joanne. But I did learn to be a little more careful–at least for that next hour…

  6. I love this post, Bo. And that capture is amazing.

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