Looking at Life: The Photography Metaphor

So, my son’s visit has come to an end.  It was good to offer him a retreat from his everyday routine, a chance to slow down and reflect, the reassurance of support and the challenge of articulating his thoughts, feelings, and desires.  Making your way in the world as a young adult is hard work; there’s so much to process and so many options.  As I mess around with photos, sliding tint and color saturation and cropping and brightness tools around, I think of all the different ways there are to look at the world.  How do you land on the one you want to “apply”?  What is the result you’re looking for?  How do you recognize that result or closer approximations of it?

I keep asking myself those questions, and the answers do change.

My son remembered some of my “dragon lady” moments as his mom, those angry “This is not the result I want!” rejections of his behavior.  I had forgotten the specific events, but I remember the frustration.  As always, I had (at least) three options: run/hide, change the situation, change yourself.  I spent a lot of energy trying to change situations.  “I wouldn’t be this frustrated if I could get these kids to obey me!”  I tweaked and cajoled, but I never managed to break their spirits and get them to comply completely.  They had their own will, just like a photograph whose focus is already determined.  The one thing I can’t do with my photos in post processing is sharpen the focus.   So what do I do then?   Change myself.  This is a fuzzy picture and it will never be crisp.  But I can learn to understand fuzziness as a quality that represents a true thing in the universe and so makes a valid image.

I think I’ve evolved to be a closer approximation of the person I want to be.  Less of a “dragon lady” or control freak or perfectionist.  More tolerant and compassionate.  More honest and willing to look at things as they are and drop the tyranny of looking at things in comparison to how I wish them to be.  Kinder, more open, less anxious.  Oh, but I still have some more adjustments to try.  I may get closer still.  Meanwhile, here are some examples of the results I got with pictures from yesterday.

"Canyonland" in a decaying willow


Slimy tendrils of ice


Blue lagoon, Wisconsin style

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