This weekend I spent time scrolling through photographs to curate a collection that I could place out in the open where they might be seen by other people. I began, and still remain, feeling somewhat self serving in this activity. Why on earth would anyone want to spend time looking at moments I have seen through the lens of a camera? I really don't know the answer to this, which begs the question, why bother?
I don't know why other people might choose to come to look, and what they might see when they come, but in the process of creating this site, I think I know a little more now about why I would choose to do this. My intention is to share my journey and practice of looking, and waiting, for the beauty in humanity to appear, and imperfectly captured as a marker and reminder of who we all are.
Recently I listened to an On Being podcast with Krista Tippett in conversation with Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist at M.I.T. and author of "A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design". Wilczek spoke with a passionate enthusiasm and excitement about the pursuit, and existence, of a beautiful question. In this interview he says,
"...beauty is a human experience. It’s something that has to do with how humans react to the world and perceive the world. And it’s notoriously thought to be subjective, but it’s not entirely subjective. There’s a very rich history of art objects and music and what people have found beautiful, and literature. And we can compare that to what scientists find in their deep investigation of what the world is, and see — not whether those things coincide; they clearly don’t coincide. There are forms of beauty that are not found in science, and there are facts about the world that are not beautiful. But there’s a remarkable intersection, I think, and a remarkable overlap between the concepts of beauty that you find in art and literature and music, and things that you find as the deepest themes of our understanding of the physical world."
I have come to believe that there are things that we do, over and over again, that can become a "practice". I have come to recognize that if I, or anyone, practice something over and over again, we just get better over time.
Looking through the lens has provided a boundary, a constraint, that makes it easier to focus, and notice what is within that boundary, But the real practice is in seeing, and in waiting until beauty shows up, and I can see it, and if am fortunate capture a facsimile that can be shared. Somehow, the perception of someone, or something, as beautiful, stops us for a brief moment and shifts our stance, our position, and how we might take the next step or action.
I don't know that I could actually say what beauty is. Having grown up surrounded by American media, I have been immersed in a very narrow scope of what beauty in people looks like. I have always appreciated the media, film and television, in the UK, because the people who show up there are much more often going to look like people in my life, friends, family, neighbors, and strangers that I see in daily interactions. Somehow this matters when beauty shows up in people who look like those who are around me.
I don't know if sharing my practice of looking, and waiting, to see beauty in people matters. I know that I can't describe what that beauty will be, and how it will make a difference. But I will know it when I see it, and it just seems that sharing that can't hurt, and who knows, maybe it actually can make a difference.