It was a day of judgment. A bad day and I was caught up in the ancient drama of beating self up for not being perfect. A thought kept circling round n round in my head. A voice, sternly advising and admonishing me to perform some ritual of appeasement. Some atonement for my sins. Well, God knows I have a bunch and thank God for seminary through which I knew that the story of personal sin was very old, universal not personal and that it was – as so many good stories are – a fabrication; and for the teachings and practices of Buddhism. But damned if inspite of Christianity or Buddhism I still could not shake the judge inside my mind or the feeling that something was bad. Everywhere I looked I “saw” the “judge,” the “critic,” the “critical-mind” eager to find fault. Eager to shout: “Not only are you a screw up in life but you suck as a photographer too!”
Clearly, it was time to take a second look!
“What the hell…I’m here so I might as well pretend to photograph” I thought to myself and glumly sank down to my knees onto the soft moist grass and through the camera I started to pry and peer at the life occuring before me.
“Hmmm….nothing but soft wet muted colors, so dank, depressing,” I thought and then it hit me. What I could “see” was a reflection of my own damp, down-in-the-mouth mood. So I thought to self: “well self might as well see what we look like.” So I knelt and set up tripod and clamped down the 200mm Nikkor macro and I sat and I looked. Nothing happened. I sat some more and tried to pay attention. Nada. “Oh the hell with it,” I thought for an instant and then something odd happened. I stopped. I just stopped thinking.
I put aside the camera and simply sat. Eyes closed sensing life in other ways and I breathed. After awhile I grew calmer and more still inside and out. A wind arose and I found myself paying attention to it. Feeling the sensations of the wind; noting they were pleasant; experiencing them ebb and flow. The idea arose to explore wind as movement and sound. Next thing I knew I felt I was moving with the wind – being blown about as a leaf. All of a sudden my breath and the wind merged and for a second – for just an instant – the wind and I were one.
The wind stopped long enough to drop me off and after re-collecting self I saw that I did not have to keep fighting with my own dark-damp mood. That I could relate differently to the condeming words of that ancient old Judge – instead of standing before “him” all guiltifed and hang dogged weakly arguing my “case” I could stop that particular war simply by befriending that cranky old curmudgeon. So I stopped. I stopped arguing with the Judge for a lighter sentence or even parole. I stopped trying to make something or anything happen. I just let go and when I did the hanging judge within was replaced by the More of William James.
I could then allow curiosity to arise.
[Sometimes it happens right off the bat for me that after looking at the first image on the LCD I know that that image is likely to be the best of the day. But I go on because I am greedy and because my curiosity is nowhere near quenched. Other times I go through a progression narrowing down and into the aspects of the subject that pique me most until I get there or I get pleasantly side-tracked into a whole new visual adventure. It is never the same. I am beginning to see that the practice of photography within a contemplative approach and many of the qualities of direct experiences which occur as as a natural result of daily Vippassana practices has begun to overlap. Strangely though the technical processes I am exploring have become more complex, my seeing seems more simple. I have no clue what to do with this point of view.] Do you?
I started to see what i was not able to “see” before when the “judge” was behind my eye’s. I was able to see more. Patterns and raw shapes of color and light fill the lens. I find it exciting to see what comes together in the mind when nothing is in focus in the viewfinder! I find it challenging to try and find some blend of camera skill and technique with the randomly playful….the eternal “what-if” I like to ask, with the attitude of “beginner’s mind,” and if grace arises, that I might be given an image that delights! An image that somehow opens the heart……
All these images are the result of creating in-camera multiple-exposures except one. A prize goes to the lucky one who correctly guesses which.