Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Big Picture

My computer has been misbehaving a bit the last day or two; I'm not sure if it's in reaction to the new external hard drive I installed or to the fact that I'm running out of memory (which is WHY I added the hard drive).

So yesterday I moved all my photos onto the new hard drive and then set about deleting photos from the main drive that weren't strong enough to justify keeping them in plain sight. Usually I start this process at the beginning of my alphabetical list of folders, and tend to lose momentum towards the end, so this time I decided to work from the bottom up; poking through the files, looking at everything, tossing the losers and pulling out the ones that called to me.

I found this one in a folder labeled "wood, stone, rust and sand." It was, I believe, some sort of cement pillar or piling on a beach in Poulsbo, and I took the picture because I loved the colors: this sort of gray blue/green and rust combination is a favorite of mine, and dominates the room where I do my morning meditation.

It wasn't til I got this image home that I realized it looked like a figure doing some sort of rain dance. I labeled it "medicine man," and then stuffed it in a file and forgot about it.

Yesterday, looking at it again, it felt a bit like a crucifixion, this figure with upturned face and raised arms. Is it begging? Is it dancing? Is it raging at God? I don't know, but I love the ambiguity of it; love that I don't have control over what it says to a viewer. That's part of the joy I find in photography: that if I listen carefully and am obedient to the impulse that suggests "take this shot, this image, now" then I don't have too much control over the results, and they can just be what they were meant to be.

Which is a good thing, because in other areas of my life I tend to need a lot of control, and get a little anxious when things begin to feel out of control. I suspect I am not alone in this: I'm in the final stages of rehearsal for an upcoming play right now, and I can feel the whole cast -- not just me -- getting increasingly frantic, worrying that it may not come together. Because, of course, whether it comes together or not is not under our control: that's the director's job, and all we can do is perform our parts faithfully.

Kind of like life, I guess: Clearly we're not the director on this stage, either. And while some of the scenes seem pretty easy and straightforward there are others that are just incredibly complex, with lots of players, or lots of hidden motives. And sometimes we don't get the role we want, and the one we're stuck in feels all wrong, or the other players aren't giving the expected cues and we just want to cry out in rage, like this figure.

And then there are the other times, when everything goes well, and we are exultant, awash in applause -- and that sense of celebration is contained in this figure as well. And now a voice in my head, steeped in years of listening to Monty Python, is proclaiming this (probably mangled) quote from a ridiculous interview with a famous but obviously brilliantly stupid actor: "The words are all there; you've just got to get them in the right order."

All the possibilities are here, contained not only in this image, but in each moment. Our job is to keep plugging through and trust that Someone, Somewhere, gets the Big Picture.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This comes at a good time for me to hear it. Thank you. God bless you!