Habit, as much as anything made me stop at the entrance of the sacred forest path that all my photographic adventures at Blue Lake Ranch embark from. I was feeling tight inside and still hearing the story lines along those familiar strains of “she said this and THEN i said that – so she started it…” a familiar and boring and old refrain old married couples learn to deal with from time to time. Stopping, I closed my eyes, took some breaths, quieted down then just practiced one of the meditation techniques of Vipassana Buddhism. I found the fist like tightness in my abdomen and I watched it – noting – anger anger anger. Till it passed – a matter of a moment at best. As the tightness left so to did the old stories and in that moment there was a taste of freedom. I opened my eyes and this image jumped out at me.
I’ve never been any good with anger. I tend to push it away and I am quite adept at doing so I am pleased to say. I have multiple techniques by and through which to evade and avoid recognizing, dealing with, accepting, and/or expressing anger. The same can truthfully be said, in my case, as well for fear, self- doubt, and anxiety. But for the moment anger is the topic. I am sure that I am not alone in my reluctance to confront the energies of anger or in comfortably allowing those same energies to be mustered and expressed through me. I tend to do what many of us do when anger arises – my first choice is to run my second is to shut down. Buddhism teaches another way.
Growing up privileged, white, male, liberal art educated, middle-classed, and methodist, I was schooled as so many were in the tried and true methods for seeing one through this world of ours and through this “vale of tears.” Avoid by acquiring “stuff,” or avoid by stuffing self, or deny by numbing out. Personally, I’ve used combinations of all three prescribed and proscribed methods for getting through life and earning my reward in the “sweet bye n bye.” And who knows – maybe all this would work – maybe it does work for others – I can’t say. All I can say is it doesn’t work for me.
I’ve discovered another way. A simple, subtle, uncomplicated way of being with anger – others and my own. I just note it, physically locate it, and observe it. I don’t cling to it, feed it, numb out or use stuff to avoid it and it goes away for the time being leaving me with more spacious and gentle energies to work with photographically. This freeing of energies and being able to work from within a more quiet, peaceful, and spacious mind has become part of my everyday practice of living and certainly a huge part of my creative work, and photography.