I didn’t own a camera and had never taken photos, so I quickly dismissed the thought. Fortunately my son is a persevering soul and I boarded the plane with a camera and a few short lessons on its operation. I did my best in the first few weeks to capture the essence of what I was experiencing, largely for him, but imperceptibly I became captivated by the world I was seeing through the lens.
Very many rolls of film later I arrived home. My son was suitably impressed with my efforts, chatting on about the amazing depth of field. “Is that good or bad?” I asked, naively. At least I had a wonderful record of a once in a lifetime experience.
A few years later I attended a photographic course and week-by-week as the teacher explained the ‘rules’ and what constituted a good photo, I suddenly realised that I had done those things intuitively. It dawned on me that an adventure to the other side of the world and a caring, persistent son had helped unlock a latent gift. I began to wonder what other gifts might be waiting to be unwrapped.
I realised that I would never know unless I stepped out into new experiences, pushed my boundaries, overcame my fears and believed nothing was impossible. One thing photography has taught me is that we never know what we are capable of until we try. How sad it would be to die with unpackaged gifts.
That happened to me last week. I was looking down the street intent on what lay ahead and it wasn’t until I walked back the way I’d come that the first image on this blog jumped out from the wall at me … hard to believe, but true of life.
We all have a very clear perspective on life but we need to be able to turn around and look from the other direction to see it from someone else's perspective. It can give us a fresh angle and maybe the ability to see something we might otherwise have missed. It’s amazing to experience how just turning around can give you fresh eyes, literally and figuratively.
Somehow viewing the world through the lens over the years has trained my eye to see that way permanently. It’s made me more observant and aware, more alive to what’s around me. Unconsciously I put a mental frame around a character-filled face, a piece of bark, an intimate moment … around life in action. It’s taught me to connect with the world around me in a more responsive way, not sleepwalking through life or rushing along focused on the goal, but engaging life long the way.
Richard Rohr says that 98% of the time we think in the past or future. We relive or rehash our past or we plan, dream or worry about the future. Check it out half a dozen times today and see if that’s true for you. It is for me.
My grandmother used to say, "We cross so many bridges that we will never need to cross". The future is in God's hands so I need to focus on discovering all today has to offer, give it all I have to give and learn from it all it has to teach me, because tomorrow it will be the past.
Viewing life from behind the lens has not only changed the way I see the world but the way I interact with it. The lens has been my teacher, altered my vision and overflowed into the way I communicate and respond to life.