I learned how to see in my mid-teens. Thumbing through “The Mother Colony”, a (mostly) picture book about Saint Kitts. Every scene was familiar, since I am from Saint Kitts and experienced these places countless times before; but something was wrong. The photos looked beautiful to my eyes, but my memory of the real life scenes did not. I was missing something.
I revisited several locations from the book. I looked, but couldn’t see in real life what the photographer presented in those photos. It took longer than it should have, but eventually 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 — as opposed to merely looking. It is an exercise in perceiving potential hidden in plain sight within a scene; then artfully presenting the parts of the scene that tell a story or that reveal the beauty. Similar to a sculptor carving a statue from a block of marble, the first task is to see the completed figure encased within the block; the second is to deftly chisel away the unnecessary bits, until the statue is revealed.
Realizing this was a 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, I was learning how to see — suddenly, I could discern more about almost everything I looked at. Living in the beauty blinded me to the beauty; and this was an early lesson in how I had been taking the familiar for granted — an error of omission I have since tried to avoid.
Learning how to see filled gaps within me; gaps I never knew existed until they were being filled. Which brings me to the importance of sharing. Had my father not thought to share that book with me when he did, some of my gaps might still be unfilled.
Sometimes an act of generosity, sharing is also an act of kindness, grace and love. When we share, for better or for worse, we sometimes — even if unknowingly — help others to fill gaps within themselves that they may be oblivious to. Sharing food fills gaps in the body; sharing knowledge, wisdom and experiences 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?
The answer is — 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 the landscape of this life. Some of the words, thoughts, ideas and images will be my own; many will belong to others. Either way, they will all be part-digested pellets, stumbled upon and foraged. There is beauty in a blank slate — it brims with potential, and makes anything possible.
I don’t know where this experiment will lead; but if you amble along with me, we will have an adventure finding out — together.
Thanks, for the company!