Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Feel Another Transition Coming On

My life really does feel like it has endured nothing but a steady stream of really positive transitions in these opening 4 months of this new year. Call it paranoia, but I do hope this rushing sweep of uplifting change and accompanying optimism isn't precipitating a pending future tragedy. For a change, I'd like to think I've already endured more than my fair share of personal tragedy. Not just the car accident that should have ended my stream of consciousness, but the year preceding which was effectively a long-term state of mind so unbearable as to make the concept of premature death not just palatable, but appetizing. It's good to be done with self-imposed bad vibes.

So much of the latter half of 2011 was spent re-evaluating my significance, my reason for being. Much time was spent mentally fixated on the perplexing circumstances of my continued survival, a constant process of rationalization. My perception of who I was split, the original variant of my concept of self left dead on the roadside. The person that remained was a shambled collection of the broken pieces from that shattered identity, a piecemeal sense of self not cohesively arranged into anything recognizable as the defined man preceding it. I was someone new, someone different, and despite all the years spent defining the person I was (leading to the tragic result that was a self-sabotaging 24 year old) I needed to slow down, take my time, erase what was written and start fresh, ink in what worked and erase the sloppier parts of the draft. Like traveling back in time to correct mistakes you know you'd make (only without that silly Hollywood subplot of every change inevitably bringing a negative consequence).

Most of 2011 felt like lost time, a period of recovery where progress that could've been made wasn't. Once upon a time that thought left me feeling cheated, but now I appreciate the hiatus from rapid progress as it gave me the time I needed to really think critically on what I wanted to achieve, which pursuits were the most fulfilling, what I wanted out of life instead of what I was being given. That period of introspective brainstorming shows today. Without it, I wouldn't have ever developed the brand that I am now recognized by. I wouldn't have met the people I've developed an affinity for shooting with. I wouldn't have branched off into actual studio work, been contracted to shoot real estate for a legitimate, well established company, been published and re-published in a strong, ongoing business relationship with a foreign publishing firm. I wouldn't have realized the dream of becoming an established, working photographer. And that really is the important part... if not for the wild way in which events unfolded, I never would have ascended from the tragic dreamer to the man living the dream. From simply quixotic to self-actualized.

It's a good feeling, and life has become an optimistic affair. And while it is natural to become acclimated to the state of being after a goal has been achieved and once again yearn for the next goal, the next journey, I am supremely contented with the coasting ride. However, I have a swelling sense that the changes are not done coming, that in spite of the grand positive influx of happy coincidence and boons to my future, there are still other subtle, unexpected changes set to settle in my lap. Regardless of need or desire. Independent of anticipation. So long as I continue making progress in solidifying my foundation as "Photographer".

Life has treated me well. And I am absolutely thankful.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Uprooting Syndrome

Life in general has been on an all too lasting holding pattern as of late. Last month I signed the lease to a new apartment, and while items were trickling over into the new space the entire time, it has been in the past week that the vast majority of major item moves have taken place. As it stands, the new apartment is more or less together with nearly all the "keepers" from the old space, but with that said, the old space still needs to be emptied. As nice and obvious an "upgrade" as the new apartment is, the transition is bittersweet - after 4 years in the former residence, memories, habits, a solid history had formed in and around it, the likes of which it will naturally take some time to form in the new apartment. Much as I love the new place, it just won't have that home feeling until I've been there long enough to built a new set of patterns, write a new history. Ah, the impact of sweeping transition.

The only photography I've managed to engage in during the past couple weeks has been some shooting in Baltimore, at the inlet of the Inner Harbor. Night shooting, the classic stuff I learned the art of photography on to begin with. Learning some niche issues that make the E-P3 a bit tricky to use when shooting at night, but learning it well enough. Still in love with the wildly punchy but somehow balanced colors it produces in i-Enhance mode. To remove one annoying little handicap to my post-process, I invested in a new monitor last night, a 23" LED with excellent tweak-ability and bundled calibration software, perfect for ensuring solid photo editing. It's nice to not be left squinting at the screen anymore to edit photos and be a slave to off-even zoom levels. It may not affect ultimate image quality, but it will certainly make the experience of post-processing less cumbersome and annoying on my end.

Another off-usual tidbit from last week, I visited a therapist for the first time in many years. At the encouragement of a friend (though, really, multiple friends), I sought professional counseling to get to the core of a multifaceted and deep seated disquieted demeanor I just can't quite seem to shake. I've been more and more prone, in recent years, to essentially consume stimulus much as one consumes media such as TV or movies, and much like those who watch too much TV or waste too much time watching movies or playing video games I've reached a point where no matter what my goal, the hobby in practice, whatever I may be working towards or in pursuit of, I am never satisfied by the ultimate outcome. Not disappointed at the end result, but disappointed that it is a completed goal. If not on a constant journey, a non-stop march to complete some objective, I quickly grow bored and stir crazy until the next goal is presented. Effectively, I am binging on work because I'm never content with the result no matter how positive. After my first session last week, it was suggested I read up on and engage in the practice of meditation to slowly bring myself to contentedness with doing nothing, and while I would like to try it the first step demands a location that is relaxing, sacred, generally non-stressful, and because I am in a new place that isn't even entirely together there is nowhere at home that qualifies.

Best I could think of was perhaps driving out to one of my abandoned sanctuaries and practicing meditation there, which I'm fairly confident would work, but that line of thinking brought me to a deeper point of understanding about how I work mentally. I haven't explored solo in quite some time, usually bringing along the safety net of a friend such as Kyle or with a trustworthy group. From a safety standpoint, such a practice is best, but I thought further about how I felt while exploring on my own, with no safety net. Mental wellness meditation involves a strong emphasis on body awareness, demanding central focus on breathing, where the body occupies the space around it, generally a sense of where you are, strictly locking the mind in the time frame of the present. While exploring in groups, my mind has always been muddied by the influence of those people, be it self-conscious thinking of their perceptions, the influence of their photographing approach on my own, any number of subtle, often overlooked ways in which we interact with each other simply by being in close proximity. Alone, however, there is no better way to describe the experience than the most firmly rooted in the present and the most keenly focused and aware of myself, my body, my presence. Concern for Facebook status updates, what I'm eating for dinner, how much gas I have left in the tank, what groceries I need, whether or not I cleaned the stove, none of it ever entered the picture during my solo explores of late 2010 and early 2011. Everything was strictly in the moment, and the only elements that mattered were what were directly available to the senses. In essence, those solo explores were like meditation all their own. I'm thinking perhaps I should engage in the practice of it again to reset that scope of clarity they provided before. If I can learn to function strictly in the moment during an explore, certainly I can bring it with me into my normal day-in, day-out.

Hopefully this weekend the apartment transition will be complete. Then, finally, I will be able to return to a more normal span of activities. My hands miss holding the camera.