Monday, April 16, 2012

A Spiritual Journey through Photography

Well, it has been quite a while since I have written - but I have been very busy behind the scenes.  I have still not read much fiction, but I continue to read books on photography and writing, and know that someday I will return to my reading passion.  Geoff and I are trying to finalize plans for out 30th anniversary celebration, but we are having a difficult time deciding how to celebrate:  New York City - a cruise - a lake house retreat?  That is obviously fodder for another post at a later time.

I have had an idea for several weeks now to write a blog post on the spiritual journey I have traveled through my photography hobby.  It has now become quite lengthy and will probably be a multi-part essay.  But today I feel the need to document my weekend epiphany that came as a result of doing homework for the online class I am taking, Sense of Place.

In the first week of the class we were asked to begin an Inspiration File of travel photos.  There was no limitation except that we needed to collect 20-30 pictures that "inspired" us.  Since I have saved over 300 pictures in the favorites folder on my Flickr account - I decided to start there.  I quickly culled through the photographs and selected 18 pictures that I thought pertained to my "sense of place" and I saved them in a separate folder on my desktop.

When I viewed all 18 pictures at once I quickly found a common theme:  serenity.  Every single photograph left me with a sense of peace and tranquility.  This did not surprise me.

But as I looked closer I realized another theme emerged:  simplicity - a desire to return to a bygone era where life was lived at a slower pace and success was not measured by the number of tasks ticked off the to-do list.  I am drawn to pictures of flower boxes in windowsills - and moleskin notebooks on cafe tables with a half empty cup of espresso on the side.  Technology is a not a part of these eighteen photos, but open air markets with fresh produce is plentiful.  The pastoral setting with sheep grazing in the lush green grass is perfection to me.

And then it hit me.  An epiphany for me - but probably a "duh" moment for others.  If this is what I yearn for:  simplicity, tranquility, a desire to release 21st century technology for a lifestyle more genteel --- then why do I only indulge myself one or two weeks a year?  Why do I feel the need to live a daily hectic life that produces stress and strain when I can make minor adjustments and live that lifestyle year 'round?

While I may not have the opportunity to visit daily open air markets, I am driving distance to several Farmers' markets here in the heart of America.  If I long to sit a sip an espresso while writing long hand in a moleskin book then why I don't give up the computer and head to a local Starbucks and secure a corner table for the afternoon?  If I do not wish to define success by a to-do list, then it is time to give myself a break and say I will teach those classes which hold a passion for me (Brit Lit and English Comp) and release those that bog me down.

Vacation is a not only a physical destination beyond the everyday - it is a mental mindset.  And while I do not envision taking an extended break from life - I do believe it is possible to infuse my life with elements of simplicity that until just recently I thought were only available for one week out of the year.


  1. I hope you're successful in your quest to find simplicity.

  2. Isn't it wonderful to have an aha moment?

  3. What you say is so true and really resonates with me. As I get older I crave simplicity and serenity more and more. I'm hoping to do a few camping trips this summer and spend time in nature and away from all electronics!

  4. I am intrigued by that elesson and what you gleaned from those photos. I wonder what I would chose if I did the same lesson?? I feel that you can make your life more simple...and it sounds like you already know what direction you want to go! Embrace it!

  5. What a great insight … and I think it is possible to make it happen in your everyday life. Go to it!

  6. Good to see your post, Molly. I think it was the artist/illustrator Tasha Tudor, whom I admire greatly for her work and her lifestyle, who said she didn't need a to go away for her life WAS a vacation.

    Loved this post.

  7. Your words here have stuck in my mind for days. I love how you're integrating the things you love into your everyday life - very inspiring!

  8. Hello Molly, I'm pleased that I discovered you here and loved reading your lovely text on your "Sense of Place" assignment with Kat.
    I can so identify with your "desire to return to a bygone era" where life had other priorities and simpler values. I loved what you said about being "drawn to pictures of flower boxes in windowsills - and moleskin notebooks on cafe tables with a half empty cup of espresso onb the side". Can I come and join you with my own moleskin notebook and my pen with real ink in it?! LOL!
    I loved your photos of the shutters and colourful window boxes and the trailing vine. The Café du Marché looks perfect and we have many of those here!
    I teach English too, but to foreign students and we have lots of fun together!
    Have a wonderful day!
    Sandra aka zinnia

  9. Glad I stumbled upon your blog through Twitter. I've enjoyed your ruminations, the photos, and admired your quest for simplicity, tranquility, and a more techno-free lifestyle. And the course you're taking, just the name itself can conjure up so many associated memories and experience. Thanks for this wonderful post and I'll definitely be back for more! ;)

  10. Just stopping by to say hi--and I miss you!

  11. Sorry I'm a little slow getting around to comment. Glad to see you back to blogging.

    Simplicity has become my theme in these "later" years, also. I'm always looking for that life that doesn't rely on ticking things off the to-do list for satisfaction. I think you've hit on the crux of the simple life - to enjoy the simple things like flowers in a window box and realize that many of life's deadlines are self-imposed.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.


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