Monday, November 19, 2012
Yesterday I drove by a row of trees with brilliant orange-yellow leaves at the corner of Market and 15th. I've driven by them a number of times during the past week, and each time, I think, "I should come back with my camera," and then I forget about the trees until the next time I pass by. When I drive by again, I lament that I haven't come back to photograph them.
This weekend, as I drove by yet again, I recalled that for several years I drove by a dying pine tree by Beaver Lake in Asheville nearly morning in the fog and thought, "I should come back with my camera," and I never did. One day, I drove by after a violent storm and saw that the top 2/3 of the tree had broken off. I felt heart broken. Clearly, the opportunity to create the image that I had always intended to go back to had vanished.
Of course, I photographed the fallen tree, but instead of creating the peaceful images of the tree that that I had previously imagined, each image of the broken tree evoked feelings of sadness in response to lost opportunities. As I continued photographing, I was able to transform the images into a reminder to live in the moment and follow my creative impulses and heartfelt desires, even when it meant being exquisitely vulnerable.
Interesting that this week's reminders for living in the moment and following my creative impulses and heartfelt desires also came in the form of trees. I tried, in vain, to recreate the glimpse of the trees that I had in passing in my car. I walked down the middle of the street, across the street, and up and down the street attempting to recapture what had originally drawn me into this scene, but I could not find it.
I paused and noticed that I was attempting to reach for something in the past that was already gone. I took a deep breath, relaxed, and walked around the scene to see what drew me in from the perspective of that moment. When I changed my mind's perspective to that of beginner's mind and living in the moment, my eye was easily drawn to a new visual perspective related to the scene. One click of the shutter from this new perspective, and I had created the same emotional tone that had originally drawn me to the trees. Happiness!
Posted by Jen Johnson at 2:50 PM
Sunday, June 24, 2012
In North Carolina, more that 70% of species listed as endangered, threatened, or specific concern depend on wetlands for their survival.
Early morning or late evening walks near wetlands are a great way to get inspired to create. If you don't have wetlands in your area, where can you go to connect with the natural world? Perhaps a nearby park or garden. If you can't find one, try searching online for your city and "connect with nature."
How will you use your creative voice and vision in the interest of personal, social, and/or environmental healing?
Posted by Jen Johnson at 4:19 PM
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
"It is a landscape so familiar to me that sometimes I have felt a species before I saw it." --Terry Tempest Williams
What does it mean for us to be familiar with a landscape? What does it mean to become intimately familiar with both our inner landscape and our outer landscape? Do we approach each with a sense of mindful care?
Knowing our inner landscape requires that we treat ourselves with compassion and gentleness, as though we were our only child. It requires relating intimately with ourselves--our body, heart, and mind. It involves a willingness to sit in the stillness or the darkness to be present with whatever arises in the form of sensations, feelings, and thoughts instead of reaching for something, anything, else to avoid feeling pain or discomfort.
Similarly, knowing our outer landscape--the land, water, air, plants, animals--requires that we treat it with compassion and gentleness. Do we treat the Earth with mindful care, honoring that it holds all that sustains us, or do we trample it mindlessly with no acknowledgment for its gifts of life?
How does the ways in which we relate to both our inner and outer landscape impact our creative expression? When we compulsively reach for anything to dull our pain or discomfort, we dampen our creative expression. Imagine the depth of creative expression that we could encounter if we were willing to sit still with ourselves, learn the practice of mindfulness, and develop the capacity to be present with whatever arises. Imagine how intimately knowing the wholeness of our true nature could be reflected in our creative expression.
Be still. Listen.
Posted by Jen Johnson at 8:37 AM
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
“All along I have just wanted to be free.” –Carole Maso, AVA
All of us are longing for freedom in some regard. We desire freedom from what we perceive is causing our suffering—uncertainty, fear, self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, anxiety, depression. Freedom is available in this moment when we choose to find refuge in our own breath. It is not our circumstances that create the most suffering. It is our thoughts and reactions to those circumstances that create our suffering. Pause. Focus your attention on the breath. When your mind wanders, gently, and without judgment, bring your attention back to the breath. Keep practicing, even when you want to give up. Sense into the growing experience of freedom.
Posted by Jen Johnson at 5:48 AM