It's not about the picture?! (almost)
I have taken thousands and thousands of photographs. And thousands that did not turn out. Not even close. They might have looked good in the viewfinder, but on examination back in the “lab,” the central part of the image is blurry, or what should be blurry is sharp. Wrong shutter speed. Wrong f-stop. Wrong lens. Wrong camera! Or so I like to claim.
The emotion of witnessing the beautiful thing in front of me is sometimes overwhelming, exhilarating, awe-inspiring. I can see why my eyes fill in the cracks or make something sharp that isn’t. It’s kind of what happens when we have a typo in a document, but when we scan the line of text, everything looks fine. We have a vision of what we want to see and it sometimes overrides what is there.
Whether we know it or not, we are ultimately optimists. We do lean towards a vision of seeing something whole in spite of what is before us. And that is reassuring.
I have realized that, at least for me, though I want a great picture to show for my journey, in the end, it’s not really about that. It’s about my communion with that dried old leaf, or pink flowering dogwood, or lichen-riddled log or the soul of a person standing before me.
When I am so consumed with the stamen of that dogwood, that I can think of nothing else for one sweet moment, the moment is just about worth a thousand good photos.
Temporary relief. Oneness with what is before me. No longing to be anywhere else. No sense of time. A meditative pause: I have climbed inside its petals.
It’s not that I won’t try to better my skills or equipment. Improving both of these would certainly make a difference in the outcome. To some degree. Or not.
As the saying goes, you can’t take it with you. Photos will be left behind in scrapbooks or online or on a dusty shelf in a picture frame. But the split second you witness the true nature of the light careening through the petals of a dogwood, bright enough that you think you see its fibers, molecules and DNA — now that’s something you can take with you.
Once, in a workshop, when asked what I wanted from this life, I replied: To have its beauty seared and etched into my soul for all time.
Remind me of this when I get to fussing.