the stories we tell…ourselves

Stay at Home Order … day 6 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

The sound of water

is my companion

in this lonely hut

in lulls between

the storms on the peak

~Saigyō (cited: Trans: B Watson, Poems of a Mountain Home)

Nikon D750… f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

John F Simon’s Drawing your own Path:

“We all confabulate. When tragedy strikes, we want narratives to explain why it happened. When scientist try to put together conflicting data, they theorize. I attempt to reconcile disparate facts by concocting plausible scenarios–making up stories about drawings for my art collectors because, after all, what art patron doesn’t like to know the real story behind an artwork.

“If my mind seems to always make up stories what do those stories say about who I am and how I see the world? Does consciously shifting my view change how I describe myself? How responsible am I for the content and direction of my story? What if I am not telling a story but a story is telling me? If I am open to listening, are there changes to be learned from the images?”

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

Nourishing Positive States of Mind

Invest some time in recognizing, embracing, and nourishing positive states of mind.

Thus far, my list includes: gratitude, loving-kindness, inclusiveness, compassion, mindfulness, tranquility, equanimity, humility.

Identify, contemplate, and set out an intention to practice 1-3 positive mind states throughout the day.

This morning I silently expressed gratitude for continued safe water, electricity, internet, mail delivery, trash pick up, and traffic lights and experienced an easing of resentment.

I have found that inclusiveness opens doors of supportive unity with others as well as silences isolation.

What are your positive states of mind and how can an intention to practice them help you through this unsettling time?

Please be safe.

now hiring driver

Nikon D750 … f/1.8 1/50s 35mm 200 ISO

Seclusion Retreat … 13th day

Given that we can live only a small part of what there is in us–what happens with the rest?

Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

In this lodging

that no one visits,

where no one comes to call

from the moon in the trees

beans of light come poking in

~Saigyō (cited: Trans: B Watson, Poems of a Mountain Home)

“Of the thousand experiences we have, we find language for one at most and even this one merely by chance and without the care it deserves. Buried under all the mute experiences are those unseen ones that give our life its form, its color, and its melody. Then when we turn to these treasures, as archaeologists of the soul, we discover how confusing they are. The object of contemplation refuses to stand still, the words bounce off the experience and in the end, pure contradictions stand on the paper. For a long time, I thought it was a defect, something to be overcome. Today I think it is different: that recognition of the confusion is the ideal path to understanding these intimate yet enigmatic expertises. That sounds strange, even bizarre, I know. But ever since I have seen the issue in this light I have the feeling of being really awake and alive for the first time.”

~Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon. pg 17

I think this is a good time to pull away from the computer, close our eyes, and open ourselves to “Clarinet Concerto in A, K. 622: II. Adagio”.

Please be safe

drinking tea alone…

Nikon D750 … f/1.8 1/200 35mm 200 ISO

Seclusion Retreat … 12th day

drinking tea alone–
every day the butterfly
stops by
~Issa (cited: http://www.haikuguy.com)

“Even after decades as a successful artist…if I choose an object [to draw], fear becomes a goblin holding me back–fear of failure, of not measuring up, or of just being banal, but mostly fear of my drawing looking weird. Drawing makes me vulnerable. Doubt has a role in holding back the sheer joy of expression … the strongest initial resistance to drawing, for me, comes from the inner critic–the judgmental voice in my head. I imagine I hear people judging my work, devaluing my efforts, or comparing my sketch unfavorably to someone else’s finished work, and I just don’t want to face that!

“The great twentieth-century painter Philip Guston, known to work long hours in the studio, once repeated something the composer and artist John Cage had told him: ‘When you start working, everybody is in your studio–the past, your friends, your enemies, the art world, and above all, your ideas–all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave.’ Guston and Cage before him, were articulating the reality that dealing with internal resistance, with the inner critic, is an integral part of an ongoing creative practice…” (cited: J F Simon, Drawing your own Path)

Let’s take a break, make a cup of tea, and listen to the Colorado Symphony’s Digital Ode to Joy

Please be safe

a creative place…

“…I was hearing the forest grow!

Nikon D750 f/7.1 1/800s 70mm 110 ISO

Then a peaceful sensation came over me, a sense that I didn’t have to do anything, that nature was taking care of itself. …The forest grew itself in the same way that my body breathed. What are Earth’s natural systems, living systems, always up to? Growing and reproducing. The living world is a creative place, because living things are always creating. Humans are not separate from this creation… We are creating our lives, while all around us the world is a creative place. …when I sit and draw, I am expressing that same creative energy. I open and let the drawings emerge.

John F Simon, Drawing your own Path

early morning readings

Nikon D750 f/4.5 1/1600s 85mm 320 ISO

“…Visual transmission through images speaks directly to intuition and feelings, circumventing the verbal mind. Drawings offer spaces for imagination to wander, evoking meanings too complex or subtle to know intellectually. This state of mind, in which one can receive information through images, points to one of the closest parallels between the contemplative and creative paths. Aesthetic appreciation and receptivity to spiritual teachings are both practiced with an open-ended state of mind, a state of comfortable not-knowing. We draw and meditate in heightened awareness of what is happening in the moment, opening the space for new ideas, and allowing change to happen.”

John F Simon, Drawing your own Path. pg.150

a photo study: contemplative photography

1hreggstudy5
iPad     f/1.8   1/130 sec   ISO 64

“The object is of secondary importance to how I see the object.  …concentrated looking is the way to get past labels and our preconceived ideas of what interests us.  Looking slowly and in detail, …gives way to interlocked abstract shapes, energetic textures, ranges of colors, spaces in between things, sharp edges, and soft shadows.  This way of seeing objects turns any item into an interesting subject.”

~John F Simon, Jr (Drawing your own Path)

I began this week with a posting of a 20 minute photo project with an egg and then went on to a second project…20 minutes with two eggs, a white small dish, a white tea cloth, a white pitcher, a small ball.  Images edited in Snapfeed.

Limited resources has the potential to awaken creativity.

The third mediative photography project…one hour photographing an egg and a small white dish…2 minutes with each image before clicking the shutter.   Images edited in Snapfeed.

Creativity begins as we begin to think differently, move out of our comfort zone, start to use our head over the camera, and go beyond all apparent possibilities.  

1hreggstudy2

iPad f/1.8 1/50 sec ISO 64

A closing note: My restless soul resisted the idea to photograph an egg for an hour with a  point and shoot camera (I substituted the point and shoot with an iPad).  As a consequence, I began with two separate 20 minute exercises and then found the inspiration to set a meditative app for an hour with bells to chime every 2 minutes.  Now I’m wondering what images would have emerged if I challenged myself for 2 hours…

Are you up to this challenge…one 20 minute photo session, two 20 minute sessions, or an hour?  Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.

the dawn is here…

In the summer night
The evening still seems present,
But the dawn is here.
To what region of the clouds
Has the wandering moon come home?

~Kiyohara no Fukayabu

Meditative photography with an iPad, John F Simon’s “Drawing your own Path,” a pair of reading glasses, a fountain pen, and the dawn.  Edited in Lightroom CC.