This morning I went out and bought a book.
I drove out to the Barnes and Noble at The Galleria with the intention of buying the book Light: Science and Magic, which provides instruction in lighting for photography. I’d checked online and I knew they had it in stock. I found my book, but stayed to browse some of the other photography books on the shelves, and my mood started to change. I became very contemplative and present in the book browsing, lost in the pictures and the book synopses. This has happened to me before – it’s why I like going to bookstores, actually – and so felt as if I was digging into a big bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese; comforting and fulfilling at the same time. After some time I found the book A Year of Mornings. This book of photography came out of a blog project where the two women author-photographers, both living in cities named Portland but on opposite sides of the country, each took one picture every weekday morning for a year. When viewed together the pictures often seemed to complement each other, as if there was some connection between them even though the women did not discuss the pictures before shooting them. Sometimes the colors seemed to go together, and on some mornings they each took a picture of the same items. I was also struck by the beauty of such simple items, a cup of coffee or half-eaten grapefruit, a flower in a vase or an unmade bed. Looking at the pictures reminded me that to find beauty in the everyday I must be present in the moment and open to the possibilities.
Somehow this time of year I always come upon this realization. Sometimes it’s through the beauty of the first snow, or a something that happens in my yoga practice. Sometimes it just comes out of the rush that is the holiday season; the visiting of family and friends, the bustling of shopping, decorating and baking, and this strange need to feel jolly in what is ultimately the darkest time of the year. This time of year always makes me feel like I need to slow down, and being present is my way of slowing things down. This year the feeling has taken me a bit by surprise as I haven’t been working, and thus in theory I shouldn’t feel so rushed. But still, I’ve needed the reminder, to remember to get on my yoga mat, to enjoy my breakfast and my brisk walk each morning with Cooper. To notice the little things, like the way Storm joins me in the bathroom each morning with a purr, and the way the sun fills the living room on clear winter days. As the year comes to an end I need to make the most of my time off from work as I’m sure the new year will bring with it a new job that will take up most of my time, and I will have to work harder to find the good stuff.
So I left the bookstore without the book I planned to purchase, but with my own copy of A Year of Mornings and a nice dose of inspiration. I’ve been trying to take at least one “keeper” picture each day in preparation for a 365 project on flickr that I was planning to start formally in 2009. I’ve had a block with my photography as I feel like I have nothing interesting to say or shoot, that I need a theme outside of myself to make things interesting for others. But I’ve been reminded of a purpose – find something each day that interests or inspires me, or that tells a story. Simple, right? Well, it probably won’t be, as I know from others who’ve gone down the path. But I know it will be worth the effort.
Addendum: A Year of Evenings is currently in progress at the 3191 blog. The pics are beautiful!