Connection pt. 3 (final)


In an earlier posting, I spoke about an epiphany I had several years back that dramatically altered the way I look at things. For parts #1 and #2 click here and here. The result of that epiphany is that I now understand the 'Why' of why I move so carefully through the visual chaos of nature ...... looking for something. It's a reminder.

Most of us pass through our lives not fully seeing what we're looking at. We think we do, "Hey, I'm looking right at it!", but mostly we rely on the memories of past experiences related to a familiar face, or thing, or place, or process, and for the most part - run on automatic. We have, through the years, built this massive image library (memories) we rely on to help us with short-cuts; a quick visual and our past experiences quickly provide us with all the information we need to navigate. That is why children are so fascinated with almost everything they look at; it's all so new, and it's all so ........... wonderful!

One of the neat things abut art is that it forces you to pay attention to what you're doing. So when you look at things with the state of mind you have to have when you're observing what you're doing, paying attention to the process, you realize you don't really have any idea what things really look like, you have a kind of generic representation tucked away in that corner of your mind that holds those images. Slowing down to really look at something provides us with the opportunity to really 'see' what is in front of us; to experience; not some short-cut understanding based on memories, but an honest to god, right hear and now, in the present glimpse of what is in front of us. We see it for real. For me, part of the creative process is just that, looking at a thing in such a way that I see it for real, with all of the emotional content that is generated by that encounter.

Discovery is what it's all about and creativity is a process of discovery. A great analogy for me is a sculpture chipping away at a huge chunk of marble trying to reveal what he or she feels is captured inside. There maybe some idea as to what that thing looks like, but with each blow of the chisle, with each tiny layer removed, there is a discovery, a closer view, a better awareness, a keener glimpse of the thing inside, and it's that way with everything; the closer you look, the more you pay attention to the process, the more you discover, the more you begin to be sensitive to what's really being revealed in front of you. I've always felt it's a little like a treasure hunt; following one visual clue after another, learning which clues are important and which ones can be ignored. Makes you live in the present.

I try to keep a routine of going out to photograph. Like any spiritual practice it helps me remember what is so easily forgotten – that even the humdrum and mundane is neither humdrum nor mundane. It's a practice in noticing all those phenomena and entities which are often in the background for us but upon which all of life is standing. It requires no belief in a deity but simply a commitment to marvel at life's sheer beauty and complexity. It's a practice in staying awake; an invitation to live in a state of 'radical amazement'