PATIENCE | A PERSONAL LESSON
MY EXPERIENCE OF SUNRISE
(JULY . 7 . 2015)
Deep calm breaths. That is what I should have been taking, on the picture perfect white sands of that Mexican beach. Deep breaths is what I was taking, all right, but they were not calm. My bare feet sunk into the grainy coolness of the sand, scratching against hidden shells and coral bits as I ran. Panting, camera in one hand, other arm flailing. I was about to miss the rising sphere of the sun, eclipsed by that small curve of the bay... I could see the golden threads of light weaving their way out of the clouds already... Cutting it fine.
I made it in time to watch as the light from the sun spilled out over the water to grace the earth. Either my timing was impeccable, or it was like a bundle of messy sticks - kind of haphazard and crazed. That is how I feel sometimes, when taking my photos. Forgetting all else - the early morning bed-hair, the eating of food, the conversations going on around me, my mind can be elsewhere. I sometimes feel torn between my photo-brain and my life-brain. And yet, photos can weave me back into the world in a way no other art medium has done before. Although I am scattered in my conversations, my mind becomes a pinpoint focus of light and energy - like a lens. I watch the ground move under my feet, spying bits of broken glass glinting up at me. My hands move between the leaves of a hedgerow, snapping off small samples to twist and twist between wandering fingers. A ladybug crawls on a concrete fence, and I am there with it. A bird's wings make a kind of whirring noise as it scoops out the sky.
For my poor friends and family, I am sorry that I seem so lost sometimes. But really I am there, in the moment, in so many different ways.
It is balance that I now look for - between the mundane and the fantastical; the real and the imagined; the grounded and the created. Sometimes I must bring myself back to the earth, to listen intently and to laugh. Other times I simply must fly away, to be free and to smile to myself.
It has been over a year since that day when I ran headlong across the beach of Akumal. I have thought of that moment many times now. It stands out in my memory as one of those life-altering events. The change in myself happened slowly. It would be almost too ironic to say 'it dawned upon me,' but I see this as a kind of poetical irony.
The scene hit me with its simple truth: there I was, in the presence of life and the light of the world and the wonder of it all, and I was so absorbed in my own head - a swirling mass of worries about my photography, and the future blog post to come of it. I saw it at other times too, this worry - when I did not have my camera with me, I was mentally kicking myself. But what for? What was all this crap in my head for?
I started searching for a reason - the reason behind my work, and I found none existing.
Here was an instance of a blank canvas if I ever found one. Here was the opportunity, the moment offered to me, to create meaning.
I began to fill the void with meaning, asking myself:
What do I want from my work?
THE ANSWERS I RECEIVED:
To be bettered. To learn, to grow, to search, to find, to push myself.
To be the scholar that I am.
To create. To germinate, to form thought into reality.
To be the artist that I am.
To live. To feel each moment in its purest form, to exist in time, to fill my life with the present as it happens.
To be the being that I am.
To philosophise. To think critically, to look for meaning, to be fearless in my words, to explore my own and others ideas, to never settle.
To be the thinker that I am.
To expand my consciousness, to explore my spirituality, to inspire others by living my own life, to tell stories, to communicate wisdom, to exude the joy inside of me...
...to find everything wonderful.
THE BALANCE I HAVE FOUND
Those answers were the seeds that have now sprouted into curling tendrils. I have found a balance in my work by melding it with life so that they are one and the same. I cannot work without first living, because my art finds meaning in the doing. So I take my time, not rushing, never worrying but simply being in the moment. I do not take pictures until I am calm and fully present. I put down my camera and my thoughts to listen to others, as they are full of wisdom that I do not yet know. I conduct miles of research, sometimes just for the sake of learning, because it feels sublime. I read and read and read. I think. A lot. I have so many conversations about my work now. In doing all this, I have inadvertently turned my attentions from the surface value of things: the pretty, the luxury, the self, to the deeper murmurings.
I am also tentatively stepping along my spiritual path, my strides becoming bigger as I leave behind all those fears I had of rejection. Because I have realised, too, that I do not wish to pander to others, but to expand my own perceptions. If I focus on changing myself, I may become like a drop of rain in the lake of humanity - tiny, but a creator of ripples.