Yesterday I came across a photography blogger who runs a photo challenge that really caught my eye and my imagination, not only from a photography perspective, but from a mindfulness one too: Mundane Monday.
Here is a link to this week’s post. The challenge is to be inspired by the everyday. It’s about finding beauty in almost anything and everything and capturing it with the same care and attention as more conventional subjects, looking at composition in particular.
It occupied my mind most of the day and prompted me to get my camera out in a car park until I caught the attention of an old man who looked pretty convinced that I was up to no good… *shuffles off sweating gently* and here’s the results.
Could do better… need to look under my nose, closer to home, roll on next week, I can’t wait!!
Photography used to be one of my great passions. Recently, I’ve realised that it still is, this never diminished, but when my (beautiful) daughter was born, I stopped taking photos of anything much other than her.
Her beauty eclipsed most everything else, and to me it still does, but as she gets older, she tends to respond to a camera with either a goofy gurn or a grisly growl, so I’ve had to look elsewhere for subject matter again…
…and with that, I’ve remembered how much I love the little things. And how important they are.
My life has its challenges, as does everyone’s. My daughter’s sensory processing disorder and anxiety means that she needs me to be with her almost all the time. That should not make her my sole subject matter: there is a difference between living closely together with someone and living entirely for someone and they, as much if not more than you, need that distinction to be maintained and cherished.
Our physical world and reach is small. In comparison to most of our western peers at least. Many days start and end in one room, the bedroom, with only brief excursions to the toilet and the food cupboards. If I tell people about that, they generally balk at the sound of it.
Our existence demands mindfulness, not in itself but when we, I, fall prey to making comparisons. Grass can seem greener…
At the end of last year and running into this one, I allowed that to become a problem to me where really it is not. I was in simply in a rut and lacked motivation. It can happen to any of us at any time, even with the world at our feet. Tiredness is enough. I’m not apologising, I’m human, fallible and, maaan, I’m freaking hot-flashes-hormonal.
My life is not hard. It is not so easy all the time that I can drift through it unaware but I like that. As I wrote in my last post, I’m upping my creative output, and it has made a significant difference to my baseline mood.
Physical restrictions do not necessarily equate to creative, mental or spiritual ones.
There is a peacefulness and quiet joy that comes when you ‘look with purpose’ as you move about your day; searching for vistas, angles, patterns, details, near and far.
There is a peacefulness and quiet joy that comes when you ‘live with purpose’ as you move about your day; making conscious choices, noticing details, persisting to do even the most mundane things well.
For me, it’s not quite the same as taking pride in what you do; it’s more like having respect for what you do: for the materials and time and energy you consume and ensuring the outcome merits it… easily said, less easily done, I see myself as an apprentice with a long way to go!
Whilst I have to be conscious of not slipping into a completely passive, reactive mode (as this is what can lead to low moods), when I am on form, really me – the dirty, naked and happy one – I love our gentle slow way of being.
There is always beauty and joy in small things. My daughter’s autism is another way to help me appreciate that, as she tends to see the trees before the forest. Her own photographs have a magical quality as they come from such a different eye to my own.
Making the effort to pick up my camera every day has recrystallised my core beliefs. I’ve regained some clarity on what “life” means to me:
There is something or nothing in any given moment and that is up to you.
Daughter and I are abundantly lucky to be surrounded by shelves of books, fact and fiction, vintage and new; we have a huge selection of art and craft materials and space to create; many ways to listen to, and make, music; we have a cupboard teeming with games plus computers and consoles; a lovely garden to explore, our darling pets; friends are always welcome; let alone if we choose we can simply take to our beds and restfully travel the world, the universe, at any time of day or night, access all areas, without tickets or visas, via the internet and TV…
We do spend our days dirty, naked and happy, outside the restrictions that most people feel. We have enough.
And above all, we have time on our side. Time to plan and reflect. Time to take time over everything we do, time to do things at the right time. Time to waste, although I never feel we do.
So, I don’t achieve it every day but more often that not, especially on Mondays, I know I can find beauty in the things that are generally overlooked as mundane; photographic and otherwise, living in the moment, mindful and free.
My favourite Instagram hashtag? Always #lookup.