I know nothing about photography. I don’t own an expensive camera, just my hand-me-down iPhone. When I take a picture, I go by my gut. I’m slowly learning what I think makes a good photograph and about my own own mental obsessions at the same time.
I’m struck by how much my mood changes with each successive prompt. Any new pursuit, it appears, provides a premium opportunity to understand and work with your own mind.
Here’s a little picture of the way my mind tends to work when I engage in a new pursuit. Since these are common patterns, you might notice one or two that feel familiar to you.
Day 1 – I began to notice “morning light” wherever I went, which brought me into the present moment and sparked a bright joy. I love the photo I took in response to this prompt. Pride crept in with joy around its edges.
Day 2 – Why can’t “leaf” be “leaves?” Frustration sets in. I take several photos, but am not satisfied with a single one. Frustration is one of my mental habits. I’m acutely aware “joy” has turned into “chore.”
Day 3 – I don’t resonate with “handwriting.” I take and post a photo of a page in my journal. Why? To be a good girl, I suppose.
Day 4 – I already have the perfect picture that embodies “sweetness.” I’m all joy and smiles again.
Day 5 – It was a busy day, but I found a “midday” moment to snap Hilo Bay during one of our occasional visits to the city.
Day 6 – I don’t connect with the prompt “I’m reading.” How can you make a beautiful picture out of a book or even worse a digital device? I see that beauty is important to me in photography. I’m more inclined to photograph nature than anything else.
Day 7 – Liberation. I feel the ground “beneath my feet” and a return to my senses.
There are no rules to the August Break. Anything goes. So whatever emotions arise, they are mine and mine alone.
I know I don’t have to be a prisoner of my mind’s patterns or of these prompts either.
So I’ve decided I won’t follow prompts that leave me flat though they may be the perfect nudge for someone else. When frustration arises, I’ll put the camera down and have a good laugh at myself. I’ll carry the camera around with me along with a few prompts in my head. Then I’ll click when I feel inspired instead of trying to track down a prompt each time.
These are simple ways to give less energy to the nonsensical emotional patterns and leave more space for joy.
Naturally, I wanted to get back to that Day 1 sense of being in the moment, filled with joy. And while I believe that everyone can have more joy if they pay attention to it, I also know the ordinary mind is fickle. I won’t count on any emotional state as permanent or unchanging. The greatest joy, I feel, comes from seeing all the ups and downs with humor instead of jumping on the thought train and embedding myself in the unreal.
I’ve been especially reflecting on joy since this quote appeared on my personal screen:
What if joy is the only metric for success? – Sarah Jones
I don’t expect to be joyful all the time. But I wonder if joy could be my cue for what’s truly working for me?
I know I’ve lost the joy I felt creating beautiful image quotes and sharing them on Facebook once the corporate giant changed its algorithm and shows them to hardly anyone at all. Whereas, I get a visceral hit of excitement each time I share my articles on LinkedIn and Medium, another new pursuit of mine.
I believe in higher values, something greater than an exclusively self-centered joy. Like if someone takes a bullet for someone else, do they stop to ask if it will bring them joy? Still, I’m paying attention to see if and when joy interweaves itself seamlessly with my greater ideals.
What do you think about the relevance of joy?
P. S. I’m planning to take a break for part or all of August. I’m not sure for how long. As soon as I decide to take a break, my creativity swells up like a tsunami. Not sure I can contain it for too long. We’ll see. In the meantime, if you’re new and like what you’ve read, check out the archive to read more.
Thank you for your presence. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others; this makes a big difference. Thank you! May you be well, happy, and safe – always. Love, Sandra