Why do you do that?

plenty of fish

 

For the last couple of years, I’ve written here on Oldbones and posted photos on a couple of other sites. These all began as a bit of a dare, a challenge to myself to show more and to protect less. And while the response from those who’ve generously taken the time to read, view and comment has been encouraging, maybe the most frequent question I get is “why don’t you promote yourself more, get your stuff out there…”

Why indeed. Why not inflate the social media balloon, get the “like” machine going, chase a “following?” Well, maybe it’s because my stuff isn’t as good as the work from others with 10,000 followers. Not really mine to say.

But more to the point, maybe that’s not why I make images and write.

The other day I had a conversation about this with a friend of mine, Buddhist teacher and author Ken McLeod (unfetteredmind.org) Ken has written a lot on his unfettered mind blog and elsewhere about the pervasiveness of the exchange mentality of our culture.  This is the mindset where you don’t do anything without an expectation of somehow getting paid. In running a business or working by the hour, this makes all the sense in the world.  Time, after all, is money (isn’t it?) The problem arises, however, when we extend that need for payback outside the marketplace.

This comes up often around meditation and practice, where the most common question I get is “what do you get out of it?” There was a time when I might have had a pretty crisp answer to that – “I’m so much calmer/saner/centered…” But the longer I practice, the less I have to say about it.  I know that my practice gave me my heart back, a heart that I’d somehow misplaced in that same marketplace I refer to above. Not really a payment, but pretty rich nonetheless. How that happened exactly and where it goes from here, well I’m less clear about that. Nor, frankly, do I care anymore.

I shared with Ken that when I even think about “promoting” my images, my chest gets tight. While I love it when someone really connects with one of my images, I couldn’t care less about selling them (and I say this with all respect for  the professional photographers who look to feed their families by it, that’s a different situation.) But over and over again, this is the encouragement I get.

Ken cut to the heart of the matter- “that’s not why you take pictures – you do it to find a deeper connection.” And as I’ve considered it, I see that he’s right — connection to this heart, to this world, and through sharing the images, to others, in the hope that they can touch the same or a similar experience. To touch beauty. A cliche to be sure, but then when did connecting with beauty become trivial?

My friend Sally referred the other day to my “vision.” Yikes- do I even have one? Yeah, on reflection I think I do, both with respect to my photographs and my poetry. It is, as Ken says, about exploring a deeper connection. It’s not about selling or followers or likes.

In the next couple of days, I plan to relaunch my photo site. My aspiration is that you might find a measure of beauty there. The invitation will be to linger a bit and see, sort of an anti-instagram.

Oh, and nothing there is for sale…..

 

None of Those Things

The Shambhala teachings speak of “effortless effort,” the quality of effort without struggle. I’ve never been very good at this myself – at one point in my career my nickname was “the bulldozer.”  But I’m workin’ on it…

This poem speaks to it as will a “Reflection” that I’ll publish soon.

sunset sky

sunset clouds

none of those things

there’s a voice in my head

that drives me to try,

always

to seek to change the shape

 

of the world, the insidious

insistence that simply living

within this life is

 

insufficient.

 

knee deep in the stream,

nothing I do seems to alter its course.

my hands grow numb

from holding back the water,

 

from trying to force it

back up the mountain.

 

we manufacture none of those things

that might actually

save us.

 

drop the sharp tools, the knives

the axes

and the snaggle-toothed saws.

the heart’s work is to stop

 

striving,

 

to attend

to this day completely,

to bear witness — come,

 

let’s find ourselves a hillside

and watch the gathering of the clouds.

 

the grass here is cool beneath our feet.

perhaps in the deep night

the waters will again begin to rise,

 

but for today,

ours is but to abide,

 

and await the coming of the rains.

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

Spring in the Wasatch

Two untitled pieces from a spring afternoon in the mountains

 

(after dogen…)

 

one day while out

walking, the mountain may turn

and hand you your heart –

here

this is your heart, don’t lose it

near here lies the road

home

 

Image

 

a cloudless blue sky holding the mountain

countless

 

winged fairies

from the cottonwoods

 

dancing, swirling, the profound

wealth

 

of immeasurable

blossoms on the old crab apple

 

all the small birds have returned

bringing a smooth

 

southerly breeze, well being

beyond words