Saturday, September 1, 2007

Pecking at the Roots of Perfection

I was thinking I would write about something I like to call “Pollyanna syndrome.” That’s when a person gets it into their head that they have to be so very filled with sweetness and light at all times, else they are somehow failing to be a good person. With all the emphasis lately on “manifesting” there seems to have been a misinterpretation of how positive thinking as a general habit actually should fit in with being a human being in possession of a whole wide range of juicy emotions, including "negative" emotions.

We’re created as multidimensional beings with an entire pantheon of passions; shutting them down tends to cause malfunctions. But I thought of that subject weeks ago when I heard about an acquaintance exhibiting all the signs and symptoms of "Polyanna". Then it took awhile to resurface in me, and I'm less clear on the subject now because I pushed it aside: not wanting to be critical. It's so much better to be present with where we are at, and to take a minute or two to write an article or sing or shout or whatever. Repressing emotions doesn’t eliminate them, they just go underground into the subconscious to ferment for awhile-- they’ll be back, but in a more, shall we say interesting form?

When it comes to dealing with our emotions the best bet is to be aware of one’s thoughts and how those thoughts are feeding emotions: we can change what we think, we can change our beliefs and our opinions, and certainly we can choose to look on the bright side of life BUT, we can’t be all one thing and still be human. Shakespeare wrote tragedies and comedies. Artists utilize darkness and light and musicians play major and minor chords.

Of late I’ve been looking at the concept “picture perfect.” It’s a fact that the standard now in wildlife photography is to take pictures of captive animals. Usually these are rescued creatures who were found injured or abandoned: mountain lions, wolves and so on. Sure, there are still plenty of photos taken of animals in the wild, but there are essentially “super models” of the animal world who live on rescue ranches where the paparazzi regularly visit. It still takes skill, quality gear, good light, some luck and a fair amount of photoshop tweaking to get the impressive images but hey, it’s photography and photography is it’s own reality. But I struggle with that. Captive animals used to capture captivating images. I think what we like about wild animals is that they are actually wild, elusive, uncontrolled. It's that part of us underneath the surface, like the smoldering hot core of the earth.

Also recently I came across another photographer’s gallery and I think he called it “the perfect image.” That gallery consisted of studio images; impressive and highly commercial stuff, which always gets me thinking about the many varieties and angles of artificial light it takes to reproduce those images: not to mention the makeup and other tricks. Did you know that aside from all the soft boxes, umbrellas, reflectors and there is even a light called a “beauty dish”, a good studio shoot might also include a “hair light” which is suspended just above your head but out of frame and it’s sole purpose is to put a highlight on your hair. I can’t seem to get the hair light out of my head. But I must admit that I’ve seen the effect and it does look good.

Where was I . . . I don’t know. The subject of perfection gets old and tedious and the mind won’t dwell where it’s weary. Sheryl has recently discovered the value of downtime and how important it can be to just watch the ducks at the muddy bog called a wildlife preserve just down the road. We watch the ducks and don’t even think about taking more photographs, trying to capture some fleeting moment of perfection or otherwise working away at our practice to make sure everything is going the way we want it to... Out of the bushes one day came these two little chickens with their red crests and yellow feet. Chickens are pretty darn domestic and they don’t belong at a wildlife preserve. Somebody let them go. Wild chickens. We don’t know how they got there, ruining the perfection of a preserve with their clucking, crowing, their charming presence. They run from the ducks and fly into the trees, incongruous and beautiful.

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