"The First Blush of Spring"
I have been taking a digital photography class, and I have been learning some wise and insightful life-lessons because of it.
A few weeks ago we all went out into a garden and took some photographs - yesterday we displayed our pictures on computer screens and showed them to our fellow students.
There is one man in the class who is very soft-spoken and shy. He puts himself in the background during class time and never asks questions or contributes to any discussions. You would hardly know he was in the class. I also noticed that, unlike the rest of us, he was using his iPhone camera to take his pictures ("not much of a digital camera," I thought).
Yesterday when our photographs were displayed, the instructor called us all over to pay special attention to the work displayed by this shy, quiet man with the iPhone.
Our instructor was actually quite dumbfounded as he "bubbled-over" about the artistry of this man's photos. They were a study in shadows - "worthy of an exhibit in a museum," said our instructor. Indeed the pictures were quite stunning - shadows that all pointed in one direction or another and brought your attention to the social point of the picture - a flower, a desert shrub. One of the photos features shadows that were literally dancing and swirling around a picture of a rock in the sand. It was all actually quite amazing.
In response to all the sudden attention and adulation, that quiet, shy man said, "I'm glad you all like these but I didn't do any of this on purpose. These pictures came out this way by accident."
The instructor stopped in his tracks and roared back, "No, they were not an accident. We are always seeing the intricacies and beauty of the world at all times. But we are rarely aware of it. You could never have taken pictures like these unless, at some level, you were able to see the beauty and the intricacy of it all. These photographs make you aware of how you see the world."
As soon as the instructor said this, I saw the face on that quiet, shy man literally light up, and I saw him smile for the first time as he became aware of hidden potential in himself- never before acknowledged or recognized. He immediately "opened up" to the class, telling us that he had been an accountant all his life and then with an even bigger grin, acknowledging, "I guess I may also be a photographer." (and all this with an iPhone camera)
For the rest of the class, all of us students, had lit up-faces and big smiles as we looked at one another's photographs. We were all artists and we were all poets. We were people who could see beauty in the world. Our photographs showed us that.
This morning as I sit quietly and meditate in my garden, I am thinking about that man yesterday and about all of us in that class with the lit-up faces and the big smiles.
So many of us lock ourselves up into little boxes and live within the limits we place on ourselves rather than freeing ourselves up to live according to our unlimited potential.
I am reminded of a college football coach I knew who insisted that his rugged "jock" players take a dance class if they were to be on his team. At first he would get enormous resistance to this demand -after all, dancing is not very "manly." His players would often ask for an exemption to his rule - an exemption he never granted.
Eventually these "manly jock" players would discover that, beside the fact that dancing helped them hone motor skills valuable for playing the game of football, many were actually pretty good, maybe even exceptional dancers. They made good use of their toned muscles and flexible dexterity and were often amazed at how much they actually enjoyed their dance class even if they never admitted this to the other "jocks" on the team.
Accountants are photographers and football players are dancers. We can either live our lives within the little boxes of our own limitations or,
we can live abundantly.