Cleaning the viewfinder is an important practice for cameras - and for camera-people.Read More
Seeing and Perception
A ring. And a pocket knife.
Two things I held dear because of the people who wore them.
Today, though I had misplaced the knife and was quietly tearing my house apart looking for it.
Although I was not saying I 'lost' it (since I could not bear to think that I might have lost it), I was saying "I'll find it,' an intuitive affirmation that set my inner 'hunting dog' in motion.
Looking in a bag of mismatched earrings and jewelry no longer worn, I found the school ring from Aurora University my mom wore on her little finger with pride all her life.
Mom went back to school after raising five kids, to become a teacher of other people's kids. She was an old school educator - she went from mimeographs to copy machines: no computer programs or online modules at that time. I remember the crates after crates filled with books, handwriting charts, art supplies and decorations that we lugged into her classroom the last week of August.
My mom taught third grade in the Aurora Public Schools because she said they still had some cheerfulness and innocence in them. (By the time she retired, that was no longer the case, sad to say.) She was one of those teachers that parents would thank when they saw her in the store, whose kids waved and hugged her when she saw them in public. Like a lion tamer, she did not show any weakness or fear while she was in the cage.
How great it felt to see someone who sat in the audience watching OUR recitals and performances, sitting on stage in her graduation cap and gown, watching all the people who came to see HER. At that time she was the only older person I had ever seen going to college, and it made a powerful impression on me.
My Dad was a pocketknife carrying man; and his silver pocketknife was his companion his entire life. My dad was a quiet man (you'd have to be with six girls!) but though he was a bit of a loner, he was the Doer Of Dad Things: tending his pride and joy lawn, grilling (he was a terrific cook) watching the Wide World of Sports, especially when Pro Bowling came on.
He was not as big a book reader as my mom, but when he studied something that interested him, he made notes, studying what he had done and refining the process, drilling down on technique to create something that was distinctly his. This silver pocketknife was his lifelong possession, and still seemed to hold his energy.
So today with Mom's ring in my hand, I really wanted to find where I had put Dad's knife. Bags, boxes, drawers, bowls, under beds, in chairs, each time the guess came up empty, "I'll find it" put new wind in my sails.
And suddenly, I am led to a new direction, a new area, and the box where it was nestled, waiting for me to find it - and for a new purpose.
Not a new purse or project of mine, but with his companion of over 50 years, resting in a small bag of ashes in my home.
Touching the two objects gently on the altar caused a deep rush of feeling and memories for all the things I loved about them, and I said, "Hi, Mom and Dad" like I was greeting them in person.
So while some people keep photos of their parents to remember them, I am happy to have the mana of my parents’ here - and as they were in life - together again.
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A bit of counter-intuition for friends, photographers, and everyone in between:
Don't be so eager to photograph the daily treasured moments of your life above all else.
To be in ‘pictures or it didn’t happen’ mode, twenty-four seven. To be removed from the reality of interaction with family, children, experiences.
Take time to enjoy and feel the depth and beauty of what you witness.
Bring the energy of your presence - go quiet - be fully there.
Even a second of this type of connecting brings this beautiful state of energy to the photographer -
and to your photographs.✨
I go online and Google myself sometimes, and saw an 2006 post from a fellow photographer, riffing on the theme of being a psychic photographer based on an ad I had written for my services. To read the original post, click here.
It was good-natured, but it stung a little that I had tried so carefully to describe what I did, only to have it be the butt of someone’s joke. And it apparently had still been smouldering, since it had caught my attention during a moment I had not expected.
I think to practice ones’ gift is to know that many times, it will be misunderstood, even by well meaning people.
The difference is that now I am choosing to see these kinds of situations with a mindset of appreciation for what it teaches - (even though I could not see it while it was happening.)
Some memories arise to a neutral, dispassionate view that acknowledges that yes, something happened, and despite potential for a cautionary tale, yes, it is done. Others create laughter: I can take a deep breath and smile at challenges to my ego or my vanity. And others can be seen with compassion for immaturity, inexperience, or incomplete information at the time.
When this picture comes up again in the Slideshow of my Mind:
I will choose to see it differently this time; feel it differently.
Bring a gentle, open, and curious self to those formative incidents, especially ones that ‘ring up’ old memories or create unexpected charges of emotion in the body.
I see it in the light of day.
I see the drama of the story dissolving.
I see it now for the best - for everyone involved.
The energy of releasing old stories affects people differently.
Sometimes the act of getting it out is invigorating, and other times, I have to let it work its way and have its say quietly, as there is more under the surface that takes time to reveal.
The first-steps experiences of my growth were admittedly the subject of humor by a stranger, but the years since created someone new:
Someone with an idea that can’t be shaken, even when another cannot see it yet.
And with that picture, even the irritations of life are like a speck of sand, welcomed for the pearls they create.