How do I begin?

Published

I learned how to see in my mid-teens. Thumbing through “The Mother Colony”, a (mostly) picture book about Saint Kitts. Every scene depicted in the book was familiar, since I live in Saint Kitts and had experienced these places countless times before; but something was not right. The photos were quite attractive to my eye, while my recollection of the real life scenes was not. I was missing something.

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I went back to several locations photographed in the book, and tried to recreate the images using my eyeballs as a camera. I couldn’t see in real life what the photographer presented in those photos. It took longer than it should have, but slowly I realized that I needed to look at less, in order to see more. A photographer frames and composes a scene, before capturing an image. Essentially, he or she is intentional about what to include in, and perhaps more importantly, what to exclude from a photo.

Photography, therefore, has a lot to do with seeing. It is an exercise in perceiving potential, hidden in plain sight within a scene; then artfully capturing and presenting the parts of the scene that tell a story or reveal the beauty. Similar to a sculptor carving a statue from a block of marble, the first task is to visualize the completed figure encased within the block; the second is to deftly chisel away the unnecessary chunks, until the statue is revealed.

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Realizing this was the turning point for me. It was akin to hearing something wise, intuitively knowing it is true, then discovering that you knew it all along. I was absorbing the wisdom again, for the first time! From that point on, the scales had fallen from my eyes and I was learning how to see — I was suddenly able to discern much more about almost everything I could look at. Living in the beauty blinded me to the beauty; and this was an early lesson in how I had taken the familiar for granted — an error of omission I have since tried to avoid.

I needed to look at less,

in order to see more.

Learning how to see helped to fill gaps within me; gaps I never knew existed until they were being filled. Which brings me to the importance of sharing, and what I think my experiment here is all about. Had my father not randomly shared that book with me when he did, some of my gaps might have gone unfilled to this day. 

Sometimes an act of generosity, sharing is also often an act of kindness, grace and love. When we share, for better or worse, we sometimes (even if unknowingly) help others to fill gaps within themselves that they may be oblivious to. Sharing food helps to fill gaps in the belly and the body; sharing knowledge, wisdom and experiences, helps to fill gaps in the psyche. Sharing is informative, clarifying and sometimes even restorative. It is often good to share.

So, back to the question at hand — how do I begin? With a blank slate.

I am learning how to listen, how to see, and how to be. This is where I will share the beauty, genius, and anything edifying I find, as I graze across the landscape of life. Some of the words, thoughts, ideas and images I share here, will be my own; many will belong to others. Either way, all of it will be part-digested pellets, stumbled upon and foraged.

There is beauty in a blank slate; it brims with potential, and makes anything possible. I have no earthly idea where this experiment in sharing will lead; but if you amble along with me, we share in the adventure of finding out — together.

Thanks, for the company.

— IO