I'm feeling very thoughtful today.
Kind of quiet. Like I'd rather take it all in than output anything. But it's my sharing day, so I'll share this deceptively small piece of personal news: I made something beautiful, by accident. And I'll share last week's finding, which is embedded in it: Such a thing is possible.
Of all the gorgeous things I saw (four national parks in three days!) and tried to capture with my camera, the images I love most are the ones I shot from the passenger seat of our car as Dana drove.
They're mostly blurry, but they have these bizarre bands of sharp focus that run through them. If you have a minute and you're curious, click on each one and you'll see just what I mean.
At first glance, I thought they were all garbage.
But then, right before deleting them, those crystal-clear bits caught my eye. Oh, I thought. My camera did focus. Just not the way I'd planned.
I'm a prolific photographer—I snap away now, assess and edit later. For whatever reason, it's one of the few areas that's left untouched by the ravages of my perfectionism. I don't seem to judge my efforts and I never take the results to mean anything about my ability, or, heaven forbid, my worth as a human being.
I play. And, in playing, I create with wild abandon.
(To give you an idea of what I mean by 'wild abandon': We have wifi for the first time in three days; this morning, nearly seven hundred pictures were waiting to be backed up to Google Photos.)
Not only aren't these shots garbage, they're flat-out stunning to me. They preserve a feeling instead of a scene, and I wouldn't have been able to execute such an effect more perfectly if I'd tried.
I don't believe I've ever taken a picture and had the distinct impression that the image is breathing. That the clouds might still be moving. That I can hear wind through the leaves.
These photos are alive in a way that's new to me. I wasn't expecting this.
So, now: I'm back to thinking about the rewards of being prolific. I'm wondering where else I need to play, to create with wild abandon. I'm wanting to investigate those areas that are stifled by my perfectionism, and I'm wanting to find a way to trick myself into treating them like my photography.
It would seem a special kind of alchemy lurks in that sweet spot where quality control gives way to generative freedom.
What about you? Where would you like to create rapidly and ease-fully, as a result of play? Hit 'reply' and share.
Noticing things: Lynda Barry at NASA
"But rarely does a day go by when my son doesn’t make something. I envy his setup and his habits. His mom has placed all the supplies within easy reach. He doesn’t torture himself. The goal is simple: There is a car-carrier truck that doesn’t exist that needs to exist. He sets to work with clear purpose and utter concentration. There is frustration, occasionally, but it usually passes. And when he’s done, he’s done, and it’s off to something else."
At Arches National Park, both Dana and I recognized the arch on the right as being the hand gesture for A-okay. 👌🏻 See it? 👌🏻 Not unlike cloud-watching, a visit to Arches means spotting red rock formations that resemble all manner of things. Prime exercise for the imagination.