I’ve been reflecting over the past few days, overwhelmed by the tragic events that hit Seattle on Wednesday. When lives are taken randomly and senselessly, I can’t help but stop to recalibrate. These deaths hit close to home – several of the people who died were musicians, members of the community that my husband belongs to. But really, it doesn’t matter that I’m two degrees removed from them. We are all connected. When someone dies, we are all affected. Lives are changed. The molecules in our collective breathing space are altered. Whether we know the people personally does not matter. We all feel it, whether it happens right next door or across the world.
My first reaction to events like the ones that happened this week is to grab my loved ones and tell them how much I love them. Then I wonder why I wait until tragedy hits to say these things. Why not say them every day? My husband and I have been making a practice of telling each other we appreciate each other every day. I even say it to Sadie when she wakes up in the morning. Telling someone you appreciate them is different than saying “I love you” (although that’s great, too.) I like to acknowledge the hard work my husband does to support our little family, the meals he cooks for us, the way he cares for us so deeply. And it feels good to be acknowledged, especially when some of the work I do is thankless. (My daughter has yet to thank me for changing her diaper or rocking her to sleep.)
The other thing that’s been gnawing at me the past few days is the question of purpose. When someone dies, especially at a young age, people often float around platitudes like “seize the moment” and “there’s no time like the present.” Yes, all of these things are true, but they are also loaded with pressure. I look at my work and ask myself if I am doing enough? What purpose am I serving? I wonder if photography is silly and surface. I wonder if I should be doing more? Should I be seizing the moment more? Embracing the present more? Savoring more?
After letting my head spin into a tizzy about my purpose in life, I’ve decided that none of this matters. These questions keep me AWAY from what is most important. My family is important to me. My friends are important to me. Photography is important to me. That’s all that matters.
I have worried about what I share on my lil’ blog. Do I share too much? Do I share too little? There are stories I haven’t told that are yearning to be told. In time, I will tell them. When the time is right. But I have decided that I don’t want to look back with regret. My story deserves to be told. (And so does yours, by the way.)
When dealing with loss, grief, depression, and everything in between, art is more important than ever. Art is a means of story telling. It brings us closer to ourselves and each other. It bridges gaps and heals wounds. It is what we have in common – no matter our race, nationality, age, or gender. Photography is healing and meditative and I’ve seen it help so many people. It doesn’t matter if I’m taking a photo with a “fancy” camera or with my iPhone. It doesn’t matter who I know or what I know. What matters is how it makes me feel. And it always makes me feel better.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Hold your loved ones close. Tell them you appreciate them. Make art. Make what matters to you. Write. Sing. Dance. Paint. Take photos. Spread love.
I hope to never doubt my art again. And my wish for you is to embrace your art – whatever it is.
Pick up your camera, your iPhone, your guitar, your paint brush, your knitting needles, or your pen and CREATE. And if you need a reason, do it because you can. Do it for yourself. Do it for us.
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.
It’s a relationship between equals.
Only when we know our own darkness well can we
be present with the darkness of others.
Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
~ Pema Chodron
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The next session of the Slice of Life Project starts July 2. Savor the details of your everyday life through the lens of your camera. No photography experience required. Any kind of camera welcome. Registration and e-course details here. I’d love for you to join me.