Tag Archives: Bhaktapur

Let Go

I have never really felt the need to write as much as I feel at this moment. Photography and writing are a form of catharsis for me, a purging of the soul, an introspection; and I know by the end of these words, I will feel calmer. It is one of those times when you feel the need for someone to listen without interruption, without judgment, without suggestion, with nothing at all, but to listen with a realization and recognition that I am flawed beyond compare, I am human, I have many fallibilities and failings and that I err more often than most. That’s just me.

I am writing this because somewhere I feel this tumult and turmoil deep within. After a long, long time. There is uncertainty on more fronts than one. Many reasons really, but its not the reasons that matter as much as what I feel. I feel as if I am unable to express myself, I feel as if I cannot say whatever I want to say without being judged, and I feel as if I cannot be silent.  Paradoxical but true: I cannot say, I cannot be silent.

Silence. What a beautiful experience. To be quiet in solitude. I believe we don’t understand the need for solitude. I believe we don’t understand that answers to questions which lie within, are not found outside ourselves but inside. I find these answers when I write and photograph. Alone. Not with you. Or you. Or you. As I stare at this photograph, the words of Bei Dao come to me:

“In the world I am
Always a stranger
I do not understand its language
It does not understand my silence”

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However much I love being alone in the mountains photographing the raw, unblemished beauty there, I prefer photographing people. Being in the mountains is meditative, being with people is pensive. Subtle difference in the act itself. I photograph strangers whom I meet along my travels and my journeys, and by the end of the day, they no longer are strangers but their faces are etched in my memory forever. I see their eyes, and then I see all else. Those eyes for me are a mirror to the soul, and in almost all the eyes that I have seen, I see loss. Which is what I feel right now. Loss. And being lost.

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But then I need to remember that as sure as we gain, as surely shall we lose. I need to remember that what is born must die. I need to remember that the sun rises to set again. I need to remember that winter is always followed by spring. This is the circle of life. I need to remember these words of Siddh?rtha Gautama, the Buddha:

“In the end
these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?” 

Yes. Let go.

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It changes me

Just this morning I was wondering what to write – there was this incessant urge to scribble a few words when the answer came to me in a conversation with a friend. I’ve just returned from Kathmandu after a week of photography, holding, feeling, touching, caressing my camera after many months, and I find a change in myself, and it isn’t subtle. I am more at peace and calmer than when I left. I am happy, I am content. Photography makes me who I am, the person I want to be.

And in reflection of who I want to be someday, if there is something that I want all my photographs to say, I hope and pray that the language is that of compassion and of grace. When I step out with my camera, there is a difference that comes about, in the way I think, in how I feel, in the way I converse, in the person that I am. I cannot express it better – this is just what happens to me.

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I am not an evangelist. Believe me when I say that I am more sinner than saint, more flawed than most, but as I photograph all these things seem to change. There is a metamorphosis. It is almost as if I were blessed, gifted to see what I see and that is when the transformation happens, slowly, surely, each day, each time.

I wander, I observe, and I am lost. Then there is this silence of mind, a calmness that comes around me, about me, which stills my senses and renders all into a sort of slow motion, where time has no meaning at all. I can sit for hours and see even the most mundane of things, wondering about the Divine Hands that made them all. It is beautiful. It is blissful. It is serene.

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It is difficult to explain to most about these feelings, but some I am sure will understand. For those who do, what I experience is mindfulness. I am there in the present. The past no longer exists. The future has no meaning for me. It is only in the present that I am. Alone with Him. It is a communion. It is alchemy. It is metaphysical. It is being one with the Cosmos, in touch with That which is Divine, the Who that is the Creator.

There are moments of tears, of shivers, of goose bumps, not only when I photograph, but even later when I see the same photographs and that time returns to me.

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And this is why I always say that for me photography is meditation, a reflection, an introspection. Or actually, photography for me is a prayer. As William Nicholson said in Shadowlands: “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time  waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God – it changes me.”

Yes. It is a prayer.

It changes me.

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