I love to write. The act of stitching words together to create order out of the often chaotic thoughts in my head really helps my mind to focus and extricate itself from my immediate surroundings. But recently I began to notice that it was no longer quite enough. I started to wonder whether I needed to find another creative outlet that might help me take a more extrinsic look at the world around me. I suppose I’d grown a little tired with being so inside my own mind.
Understanding that writing was beginning to have its limits, I picked up my camera and went out looking for a new focus. After sixteen years of saying that I was going to ‘take a photography course soon’, I finally signed up and did it last week.
It’s wonderful to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. I think it’s all too easy to live life with your eyes shut but, sometimes, when you open them up fully, you see things all around you that you never even knew were there.
Over the last two weekends, I’ve been learning to master a camera with more buttons than a Christmas pantomime. I’ve been entirely immersed in light, space, speed and colour. I’ve been challenged to look at things and look again. A mind that I thought was growing stale and set in its ways has been entirely stimulated. But most significantly, I’ve felt real joy in living – and documenting – life entirely in the moment.
This blog is broadly about wellbeing. I set out to try new things and learn as much as I could about what makes my soul happy and my mind calm. These days it’s easy to get trapped by somewhat cliched notions of relaxation and escape from the stresses of everyday life – a day at a spa, for example – but really we can all choose our own routes to mindful practice.
While shooting around London last week, I discovered that my usually hectic mind was entirely capable of stillness and concentration. Frustrated by the imbalance of life before the course, I felt completely rejuvenated by the end. I’ve learned something new and I’m seeing the world differently after all these years. Everything around me seems more beautiful or striking, even when I’m taking pictures of graffiti, rubbish or abandoned luggage in supermarket trollies watched over by black cats.
As someone I admire greatly taught me in summer this year, ‘It’s all about seeing the shine and not the shit.’ What a wonderful way to view life.