(ˈkɒm ənˌpleɪs) adj. 1. ordinary; undistinguished or uninteresting 2. dull or platitudinous n. 3. well-known, customary, or obvious remark; a trite or uninteresting saying; platitude. 4. anything common, ordinary, or uninteresting Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary
If you've been following my blog, you will already know how passionate I am about my new camera. I have been challenging myself to go on a photo-shoot once or twice each day. It might be the lane. Or Beach Drive. Or the trees along the chip trail at Henderson.
Or something altogether different.
On a rainy day this week, I stayed inside, looking around our house for my subject.
A gentle light was filtering into our bathroom, showing off the loose, graceful folds of the linen shower curtain. Voilà! I took more than 30 photographs.
I then took a dozen more of the cushions on our couch.
I mentioned my subject matter to a few friends and imagined that I saw a slight drawing together of eye brows, a slight wrinkling on their foreheads. My friend, Joanna, a wonderful photographer, just nodded with understanding.
Without a conscious decision, I have been practicing contemplative photography these last months. As my friend Heshi commented: "Your picture taking excursions have turned into your own personal version of a Buddhist walking meditation."
So, it seems only natural that my subject-matter has become less adorned. Simplified. Ordinary. Common, in its meaning of 'not rare'.
And this is why I challenge what I consider the somewhat derogatory definition of commonplace, which attaches the adjectives dull, uninteresting and platitudinous.
For me, looking through my camera's lens, the commonplace appears
beautiful. Without embellishment, without artifice, soulfulness is visible.
Thank goodness for my camera. When I really want to just lie down and pull the covers up under my chin. When I can't concentrate on a book. When I am discouraged. Then I take my camera and my picture-taking hand-knit gloves and go out the back door to the lane.
My mantra is: trees reflections & shadows.
This morning at eight o'clock there were still puddles, teasing me with trees' delicate
reflections. Photographing in water patches is tricky; your own shadow needs to be out of the way, but, if you shift too much, the reflections are diminished. An added challenge is that you don't have much control over the background.
An arial view would be ideal - unfortunately, a step ladder is too awkward to carry!
Looking, shifting and then moving a bit more before holding the camera steady and pressing the shutter. Spending 20 minutes in one tiny area. Moving to the side when a car wants to pass and answering questions from dog walkers.
'What are you doing? ' 'What are you looking at?' One time I may ask why they have an animal attached to a piece of leather. I assume they have their reasons, just as I do.
click on any photograph to get a larger image
This afternoon, avoiding the sunlit couch, I set out again. In the 5 hours since my morning foray, most of the puddles had disappeared. The few that remained were muddy. It was the time for shadows.
The muted colours combined to make a beautiful abstraction.
'There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you well....Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.'
-Jose N. Harris
It's been a rough couple of days: the aspect of fibromyalgia that crushes me most is the exhaustion. The fatigue that I feel, even first thing in the morning, after a 'good sleep.'
I have found out first-hand, that one of the defining symptoms of F.M. is non-restorative sleep.
The Mayo Clinic describes F.M. in this way: Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
I can have good days, several good weeks or perhaps good months, but then WHAM! my energy is gone and my roving body pain has returned. One of the difficulties is that generally there is no warning- I'm present today and gone tomorrow: sensitive to the weather, noise, various smells and heat and cold. That certainly doesn't make me good company! And, some of the time, I feel like a short-tempered complainer. Because of this, I sometimes/often push myself.
Problems with memory and concentration (nicknamed fibrofog) are a huge challenge for me. Before I learned more about F.M., I was frightened I was getting Alzheimer's. At times I seem to lose my ability to play Mah Jongg, carry on an intelligent conversation or to focus. I'll start a task and then be unable to complete it.
I know I'm fromtheothersideofseventy but that's not the only issue here!
I have been going to a Fibromyalgia Self-Mamagement Course at the Arthritis Centre- 6 classes taken and 3 more ahead. The 'leader', Carol Ray, is outstanding: as a person living with chronic fatigue, she 'Get's It.' The 5 women remaining in the class have developed a trust, a safety to share, which is proving to be a life-line for me.
Just before the close of class yesterday, I related a F.M. experience from the day before: In the morning, I had visited Finnerty Gardens at U. Vic with three friends. I hadn't brought my camera because I felt it might be 'anti-social' or hold people up. (wrong) Once home, the sweep of exhaustion and nausea overcame me. Internally, I berated myself for feeling that way, while, at the same time, I experienced remorse at not capturing some of the garden's beauty on my camera. (double beat up!)
So, to prove goodness knows what to myself, I returned to U.Vic at about 3 o'clock.
I went through the campus entry-gate and tried to remember where the white 'freckled' rhodo had been. Where the tall deciduous tree with plum-pit-looking seeds was located. The paths felt like a maze and my anxiety began to increase. And where was the large and beautiful stand of bamboo? I felt increasing panic. I became dislocated and fearful that I would be unable to find my way out of the garden to the car park. While not known for my great sense of direction, this fearful confusion was unlike anything I had previously experienced.
While trying to prove that my fatigue would not beat me down, I had pushed myself directly into it's arms.
I was not being kind and caring to myself. I was not listening.
There is a pamphlet from the Arthritis Society on Fibromyalgia which asks the question How Can I Manage Fibromyalgia? #4 on the list is 'Learn more about your condition and share that information with family and friends, so they can understand.'
I came home this morning after an hour and a half wandering the lane near our house; I needed to cross only two small streets before turning to wander home.
Returning, with the sun behind me, the trees looked unlike the ones I had focused on earlier. Their colours varied; the bark exposed frequently to shade, often had magnificent lichen and rich colour, while on the sunnier side, the bark generally appeared in silver and grey tones. In addition, in the hour since my initial exploration, the light had shifted.
click on any photo to view a full-sized image
As I slowly moved with my camera, I was aware of the infinite photos I could take with only the slightest shift of vantage point. I was not 'snapping pictures' but rather I had moved into a quiet inner place; a place of peaceful meditation.
"The meaning of life is to see." -13th century mystic, Hui Neng
I returned home and down-loaded 127 new photos onto my computer!
I found multiple images- ways of seeing similar elements, examined and perceived, once again.
Trees and more trees- my wonderful obsession.
You might be interested in reading an article by Marie Popova