How Do I Begin?

I started learning how to see in my mid-teens. I wasn’t blind in a literal sense, but I did spend my entire life until then, sleepwalking past the beauty around me. Human, idea, object, emotion, art — whatever form beauty takes, it is not always easy to recognize; and is often found where we least expect.

My education in seeing began with thumbing through “The Mother Colony”, a picture book about St. Kitts. Every scene 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 eyes, while my recollection of the real life scenes was not. I was missing something.

A Perfection That Eludes, by Ineacho O’Garro.

I revisited several locations photographed in the book, and tried to recreate the images from the book, using my eyeballs as a camera. I could not 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 importantly what to exclude from, a photo.

I needed to look at less,
in order to see more.

Photography, therefore, has a lot to do with seeing. It is an exercise in perceiving a scene’s potential — hidden in plain sight — then artfully capturing parts of the scene to tell a story, or to reveal the beauty. Like a sculptor carving a statue from a block of marble, the first task is to visualize the completed figure, hidden within the block. The second, is to deftly chisel away the unnecessary chunks, 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 I knew it all along. I was absorbing the wisdom again, for the first time.

The scales had fallen from my eyes, and I was learning how to see. Suddenly, I could discern much more about every thing I looked at, or experienced. I came to understand that living in the beauty, blinded me to the beauty — an early lesson in how I took the familiar for granted. It was an error of omission I have since tried to avoid.

Living in the beauty, blinded me to the beauty.

Learning how to see, taught me more than just how to see. It helped to fill gaps within me that I never knew existed, until they were being filled.

Which brings me to the importance of sharing. Had my father not casually shared that book with me back then, many more gaps would remain unfilled to this day. Sometimes an act of generosity, sharing is also an act of kindness, grace and love. When we share, we sometimes accidentally help others to fill their own gaps, that they may not know are there. Sharing food helps to fill gaps in the belly, and the body; sharing knowledge, wisdom and experience, 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?
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 across the landscape of life. Some of what I share will be my own; much 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 invites anything to be possible. I have no idea where this experiment in sharing will lead, but if you amble along with me, we will share in the adventure of finding out — together.

Thanks for the company.

IO

By Ineacho O'GARRO

Learning how to be.