dis·en·chant·ed

1. disappointed by someone or something previously respected or admired; disillusioned.

—–

dis·pas·sion·ate

1. not influenced by strong emotion, and so able to be rational and impartial

“Sometimes people feel that recognizing the truth of suffering conditions a pessimistic outlook on life, that somehow it is life-denying. Actually, it is quite the reverse. By denying what is true, for example, the truth of impermanence, we live in a world of illusion and enchantment. Then when circumstances change in ways we don’t like, we feel disappointed, angry, or bitter. The Buddha expressed the liberating power of seeing the unreliability of conditions. “All that is subject to arising is subject to cessation. Becoming disenchanted one becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion the mind is liberated.”

It’s telling that in English “disenchanted,” “disillusioned,” and dispassionate” often have a negative connotation. But looking more closely at their meaning reveals their connection to freedom. Becoming disenchanted means breaking the spell of enchantment, waking up into a greater and fuller reality. This is the happy ending of so many great myths and fairy tales. Being disillusioned is not the same as being disappointed or discouraged. It is a reconnection with what is true, free of illusion. And “dispassionate” does not mean indifference or lack of vital energy for living. Rather, it is the mind of great openness and equanimity, free of grasping.”
— Joseph Goldstein, from One Dharma


Photography and Time


“Time is the horizontal dimension of life, the surface layer of reality. Then there is the vertical dimension of depth, accessible to you only through the portal of the present moment.”

- Eckhart Tolle

I have been making a conscious effort to practice being present in each moment, being rooted in the perpetual now. In the practice of releasing the past, I am able to liberate myself from sadness, nostalgia, grudges, and the exhaustion of the analytical brain, spinning endlessly, trying to make sense of situations that have transpired. By being present, I am also able to release anxiety and anticipation of future events and allow myself to root into my body and my breath now

In this practice, I have found myself questioning: Can the practice of presence from moment to moment be reconciled with the practice of photography? 

Photography both helps and hinders my ability to be present. When I am in the world, the act of noticing and actively seeing is a sensory experience that brings me an awareness and sense of presence that I didn’t possess before I picked up a camera on a regular basis. As long as I am photographing without agenda, and with receptivity and openness to how moments transpire, I am able to practice presence while photographing.

I am finding the process of post-production to be more challenging. The second the shutter clicks, the present moment passes and the image that remains becomes a slice of time I am able to hold on to indefinitely. Every time I review images of past experiences, it is a challenge to root into now and to see the photos I’ve made with an objective mind and eye. There is a powerful unconscious tendency to allow my mind to replay certain moments over and over, analyzing and seeking understanding where there has been confusion or misunderstanding. As a photographer, I have the power to select and edit images and twist them into subjective versions of reality, most commonly known as storytelling. Crafting stories about one’s own life offers up a kind of wormhole into a warped version of the past, a dangerous practice. What purpose does this serve? Is it leading me to experiencing more joy? 

I am finding that in order to work with these visual slices of the past while still being present, I must fully detach from my emotional connections to these experiences and be able to view my own work objectively. A strange practice for which I am absolutely a beginner.