Playing Favorites

Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand (2006)

“Now I become myself.
It’s taken time, many years and places.
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces ….” (May Sarton)

The initial reason for starting this blog was to create a place for playing around with photographs and to share favorite images taken during the past half-dozen years with anyone who cared to visit.

According to one storage site count, I have nearly 10,000 images. From this inventory, less than one percent has been culled, grouped, and labeled “favorites.” One of the most interesting aspects of going through photo files daily, often several times a day, is discovering promise in an image that had previously been overlooked because it had been found lacking. The photo for this post, and the ones that will follow for the next several days, were part of the not-quite-good-enough category.

The misfit photos just stayed hidden away in one computer file folder or another. Then I decided to play around with them, just for fun. What did I have to lose by fooling around with color and effects? The added effort still didn’t help some of those uninspiring shots, but others were boosted into a whole new realm, like that nerdy boy who comes back from summer vacation looking buff and handsome, and suddenly becomes the guy.

As with photos, so too with life.

Since last autumn, I’ve met regularly with a spiritual director who is of the Ignatian persuasion. St. Ignatius, like many a wise person, believed that the process of riding ourselves of the false self and embracing the true one is an essential aspect of the spiritual journey because such knowledge is tied into finding and knowing God. All easier said than done, in part because there are so many images and messages lodged deep within us and mirrored back in all their funhouse distortions. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about who we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to look and act. It takes time and effort to find our true self because we scarcely know ourselves.

The external action of sorting photos and finding treasures among the discarded ones is the same sort of effort needed for handling inner images and messages. Some of my favorite internal pictures are actually aspects of the false self that I’ve identified with for far too long. It has only been in these middle years that I’ve started to look at the images that don’t draw attention immediately, that benefit from a second or third look, and even some that emerge with beauty because they are seen in a new light.

Thank you for taking a look at today’s photo and the ones to follow! I hope you’ll enjoy these new favorites.

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