Aging, Art, Autumn, Awakening, awareness, Beauty, Beginner's Mind, Buddhism, Buddhist Psychology, Camera work, Celebration, Change, Christianity, Consciousness, Contemplation, contemplative photography, Country Living, creativity, Dancing, Death, Death & Dying, Dharma, Elderhood, Flowers
A while back my glasses fell apart and I discovered my only back ups were 10 yrs old and NOT progressives. Now I live in the country and work in town and so I had no choice but to drive and to my delight, I found out it is quite easy to drive when one is nearly blind as a bat. Being able to read road signs that one passes every day isn’t any more important than being able to tell if the thing in front is a Chevy or a Subaru. All I need really is to see shapes, lights and drive at a safe and relaxed pace, which, is easy for me to do as I my old truck won’t go too fast and too fast now is much slower than “too fast” when I was younger….or even last year actually….and err, well I like to listen to music of my younger days and pretend I could still play the drums that good now when I never could then. Old age gives a new perspective on many things.
Walking the streets and noticing faces and details of window displays and such was also a new experience, and one that reasonably foretells a time when seeing this good will be the miracle and not an interesting side show. I’ve found I can use my handicap to stop looking at people and listen more deeply at what they say, which is a good if one is practicing kindness – and – it’s my experience that when I stop looking I start seeing.
Strolling in the gardens with the intent of photographing and with the knowledge that my vision in both eyes was at best 20/40 and that’s a guess brought a sense of freedom I had not expected. Everything still new in that “eyes of a child” “Zen sort of way” but now everything I saw was new and blurry so several challenges arose. First off, how do I focus the camera? If I can’t visually focus sharply on anything can simply clicking a shutter button on a machine called a camera still be called photography? Does a photograph have to be in focus to be a photograph?
Well, others will have to be the judge of that as I cannot. Each day now since the breaking, I’ve gone out for an hour or so hanging out among the birthing and the dying and the dancing of life waiting in between. My eyes are drawn to color and the eyes of my heart are drawn to connections, relationships and interconnections between energies imagined and shapes revealed, holding all and held together by Light. The light within recognizes the light without…..the form shapes the light. Leaves or flowers, dirt or fence posts are labels held by the mind to satisfy the minds need to categorize, to know and to transform physical object into mental form.
In order to see, one must drop the labels so Monet said and as so many said before him and since him. Including….well me.
I found, when I wasn’t thinking about how to take a picture that I knew perfectly well exactly how to take a picture. Like walking or driving or falling asleep, I’ve been photographing so long that I can let go of my mind and let my body do all the critical work of receiving, composing, exposing. focusing and allowing to occur. Light dances for us if we only allow ourselves to see it and to do that suggests a slowing down of the body, a syncing of the body with the surrounds and a kind of contented settling in….in, for the time required to feel satisfied with the day’s work And I so enjoyed the wonder of the world all over again that I found myself delaying switching back and when I did a part of me felt nostalgic for the “old ways” of seeing, before my “real” glasses again took their place on my nose.
I think it was Gauguin who said something to the effect while describing his process that “sometimes I must shut my eyes in order to see,” I’m finding this true for my own process as well.
An unexpected challenging part was watching as my mind kept throwing up question and uncertainty when ever I zeroed in on a scene, such as this above. The relationships of forms in various life stages, the light and the movement is all a gift from the space and the forms expressing it. There was a back n forth commentary going on in my head as I composed this image and allowed it to be what it would be. I found through playful trial and error that when I could not trust my eyes I could trust my gut to say “when” and my body to say “how” and getting out of the way this portrait of a Dahlia came through.