The good thing about exposure is that you finally get to the heart of things. Truth. Sometimes ugly, sometimes just unexpected, sometimes, it’s actually beautiful. But always truth, because that is what light does. It exposes. And it’s not subjective. The bad thing about exposure, if there is a bad thing, is that the parts being exposed are vulnerable. And able to be hurt. But anyone who’s worked a camera knows you need light or you have nothing. I haven’t figured out the key to staying in light and being protected from pain. I think it has to do with holding on to truth and standing behind it. Wearing it. Once you know what it is. Living it. And maybe it’s just knowing that pain goes away. But truth doesn’t.
You know what’s great? When you search the depths of a situation and you search the depths of yourself and you go in looking for one thing thinking that thing is at the crux, the center, and then while you’re in there… in those depths. That well. You see something else entirely. SO, the things you see about yourself– still true. Things about the situation– still true. And then… surprise. That’s not all you were meant to see. All that searching. All the discovery. Was meant to prepare you for something you weren’t expecting.
So, I can’t stay inside. There’s a danger in locking oneself away. And it’s painfully cold outside. Doesn’t do any good to think about fall or spring. Because I’m in the middle of winter. In Ohio. But even in the middle of the bitterness, there is a moment. Of sunlight and frozen flowers. And I want to grab on to whatever life force is attached to it. I think I need to start gathering up moments like these along the way. And looking for more. Maybe I won’t notice the cold so much.
I told someone today, that, “I’m getting there.” And then I thought about where “there” is. And all of a sudden, I wasn’t sure. It’s not that I’m lost anymore. I just don’t know where there is. So, I actually thought about what I meant when I said it. And here it is. Every day, I get a little closer to who I am becoming. And I’m always becoming. With time. With new vision. With an ever expanding heart ( that is often forced to expand). All mixed in with reality. Not always comfortable. But always necessary. I guess I should say that I don’t know exactly who “there” is. But I think I’m liking there. She seems nice.
I visited this tree on a walk recently. It’s in a field behind where I grew up. We used to spend hours… days and nights playing out there. Building pretend worlds. Stories of lives we would live. My sister and brother. Sometimes the kids from the neighborhood. It’s a shorter walk these days. Everything is smaller. The pretend worlds are harder to imagine. And I wish I could talk to that little girl with her freckles and her braids and her eyes that were still wide and innocent and a little too big for her face. I wish I could whisper in her ear, kind things. True things. Things to make her real world as beautiful as her pretend ones. I wish I could make her feel that safe again. That hopeful. Maybe. Maybe I can.
It’s impossible when light shines brightly enough, not to be exposed. Yesterday, I had a conversation where the light was pretty bright. Tired of hiding from it, I stood there. Loosened my stiff neck. Opened my heart. And let the light, well… enlighten. And while it was painful, what the light revealed was bigger than my pain. It was bigger than the whole of me. And I want something bigger than me right now. Surrendering to it was the only thing I could do. Not because I’m great, but because I’m not.
The word, surrender, means to yield. To relinquish. To submit. To completely give up control or power. To stop resisting. And this concept of handing something over, can happen in steps. Sometimes. This time. It has taken a lot to pry my fists open to let go of something. And the strange thing about it is that it didn’t happen like I thought it would. There was no bitterness involved. No reluctance in the end. What finally loosened my grip was love itself. The most powerful force in the universe. The only force that could break through my will to hang on. It broke through my reasoning. My hopes. My beliefs. And even with all of its power, Love opened my hands, gently. Sweetly. With grace. Someday, I hope if I practice enough, I will get good at surrendering to this love. And a lot more quickly.
Things are very seldom black and white. There are shades of grey everywhere. There are shadows where details stay hidden. Private. The way some details should be. Diane Arbus said, “A picture is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.” I have always loved that quote. It emphasizes the beauty of mystery and the simple premise that less… is more. So much to learn.
There is a reason your art professor tells you to stand a good distance back from a painting in a museum or gallery. Perspective. I’ve always been one to stand really close. It feels natural. It allows me to see texture. Strokes. Flecks of light I can’t see from far away. Even where colors meet and blend. I feel like I’m part of it up close in a way I’m not from the “proper” distance. But I only get one perspective. Mine. In standing too close, I have missed what others see. I have missed what the artist intended. And my vision can get very blurry. So, I back up, and it all seems so clear. So beautifully simple. So, while my little square affords me a certain insight to the piece, it is time for me to take a step back. Several steps back. It’s time to see. More. More often.