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.