The Beautiful Choice

in philosophy •  2 years ago  (edited)

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What Compels Us

What inspires the choosing of one's vocation? In a world full of countless possibilities – how do we choose?

For me, this was always a fairly crippling question. As an inherently creative soul, my trouble was the abundance of choice. Too many options made none seem viable. The idea of specializing terrified me – the notion of choosing one thing to dedicate the entirety of myself to. I thought it meant letting go of all other interests – saying goodbye to crucial parts of myself – much like sacrificing 3 wheels of a well-balanced vehicle, learning to navigate on a unicycle, instead.

And yet – the circumstances of my life pushed me towards a choice. One that, ultimately, surprised me. Believing it was the only one of my various creative facets that might bridge the vast expanse between myself and my loving, yet relatively uninspired in-laws – I downsized my long-held art-school dream to one focused entirely on the art of seeing.

I'm grateful, really. The kind of unspoken pressure I felt was unlike anything I'd known before. I'm not sure I ever would've found such impetus to commit, were it not for that. As much as I adore my biological family – we're not the kind who push each other to achieve.

And so it was that photography became my primary offering.


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Heads or Tails

As if the initial excruciation of choosing were not enough – how then to choose where, exactly, to focus my photographic attention?

At first, I imagined championing some admirable cause – lending my eye to fighting injustice – using my skills to draw attention to all that is so obviously ailing in this world. Even then – the issues are so innumerable – how could one pair of eyes possibly make any measurable difference?

All I could do was follow the inspirations as they arose – to explore the world, camera in hand, being as open as possible to whatever was asking me to witness it.

Over and over and over, I began to realize that my eye is naturally drawn to the softer side of things – the subtle, unspoken, shared experience of being human. Not the darkness we all carry – not the hateful things we do to one another – not the awful ways we overlook each other out of misguided ideas of separateness, nor the heart-breaking reality of our global unrest.

No – my sensitivity is for the underlying humanity – the truths that connect us – the vitality that still exists amidst the unfolding chaos and fear-driven turmoil.


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Beautiful Evidence

At first, I really struggled with this truth. I felt guilty, somehow, as though I was squandering my talents. I'm not sure why I imagined the only acceptable use of my seeing would be to try to make people notice the bad stuff – to encourage them to look at things they weren't yet aware of or didn't want to acknowledge.

And yet – try as I might, I couldn't make myself see differently. Even as I spent a year traveling through India and Nepal – as I observed levels of poverty most people cannot even remotely imagine – beyond the surface, I recognized resilience, absolute presence and an essential grace unlike anything I'd ever before observed.

No matter where I've traveled, I've collected visual confirmation of our collective brilliance. I've fallen in love with strangers across the globe – from snot-encrusted faces of children in the Nepali Himalayas, to EDM-loving souls of the American and Canadian West Coast, to the dust-covered citizens of Black Rock City – what I always see is the beauty that persists.


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Essential Balance

I've come to understand that – all of it – is important.

There are those whose gift is in identifying the wounds – drawing necessary attention to the innumerable ailments of our species and planet. Their role is crucial and obvious and admirable. I am not one of them.

It's taken me ten years to come to terms with that fact – a decade of inner-resistance before I finally accepted that my purpose is perhaps less laudable, yet no less imperative.

My gift is in seeing, interpreting and writing with light. Light that reflects, that illuminates – but also, the much harder to appreciate, light that animates souls.

On the most basic of levels, we are each comprised of equal parts shadow and light. It is the contrast between the two that gives us shape. We are, none of us, spared from experiencing these polarities. We seek to eradicate our own darkness, yet – as the world appears to unravel around us – it becomes increasingly difficult to embrace the light within ourselves.

While, as a global family that is progressively at odds, we're inundated with the shadowy realities of life on this planet – I'm here to offer reminders of all that is good and valuable in us – one photograph, paragraph and song at a time.

Though some may perceive this as willful ignorance or false optimism – I know balance is vital and I believe I'm doing precisely what I'm meant to be doing.


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'It Matters To This One'

Perhaps my reach is limited – the impact my work may have might only ever touch the smallest handful of souls. That's alright with me.

I do not imagine myself significant, nor pretend that what I do is any more or less important than the efforts of anyone else. I only know that this clarity of purpose was hard won. The best I can do is honor this understanding by continuing to share what I perceive – to unabashedly celebrate the goodness I see all around me – to accept that...there are many whom I'm incapable of reaching. That won't stop me from trying.

As my dear friend @sykochica so astutely describes in one of her countless amazing posts, this is not an attempt to save the world, nor spare every human the pain of their own darkness. Yet – if just one person recognizes themselves in my work and feels ever so slightly less alone – if I can help even one soul remember – to choose light...and life...and loveI'll have done something right.


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' Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend. If there are people who are indifferent to beauty, then it is surely because they do not perceive it.' - Roger Scruton, Beauty


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In an addendum to this post, I introduce a project I've recently launched – @theziplomat and its related Discord, The Kindness Collective – part of a broader Beautification Initiative that aims to enhance the Steemit experience.

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Beautiful contemplations, sista!
Like others here, I also deeply resonated with the last paragraph. I’ve always maintained that if a save even one person from a dark place with one lyric or note in a song then my job as an artist is achieved. Yet I also want that to expand far further to reach far more people to reconnect them to their infinite potentiality, of course.
Bless you!
🙏🏽🌟💚

Sir @nathankaye – I'm sincerely humbled by how often you show up with a genuine, heartfelt reflection. You are excellent at transcending barriers and reaching straight into the depths of people. Thank you for doin' what you do so brilliantly.

Thanks so much, radiant lass!
Hey, I’d show up even more if I had a few clones of myself, because who has the freakin’ time to get to everyone, right? Hehe.
Jokes aside, wonderful to meet a kindred spirit!
💚🙏🏽⭐️

This is such an amazing post. I found myself smiling the whole time I was reading it. I have loved your photography since the first time I saw you win one of the daily @photocontests and I began following you ever since. You manage to capture the beauty in this world perfectly in every one of your photos and we need more of that. People need to see more of the beauty and happiness from all over the world. When I spent the summer living in Tanzania with the Maasai people, they were some of the poorest people, but also the most happy people I had ever met and I cherish all of the photographs that I have from the time I was there.

The last paragraph of your post really stuck out to me because I have been through some pretty bad experiences in my life which led me to go to some dark places mentally, but during my own photographic journey I am happiest with the images that I have sort of the same feeling as what you have been able to create with yours. It is hard for me to explain. Anyways, your images radiate love and happiness and have a dreamlike quality to them and I hope to one day be able to produce stuff close to your level. Thank you for doing your part to make Steemit beautiful.

I'm so glad to know it resonated with you @derangedvisions. I'd love to see your photos of the Masai people. Have you posted any?

I sincerely appreciate your support and will do my best to continue offering good stuff for you to enjoy. ;)

Here is one of my photos I took of some Maasai children I was playing with one day. They weren't from the village I lived in while I was there. We had gone way out in the bush to a Maasai church and attended a service with them. These were some of the local children there. I have a lot of posts on my blog with different stories about my time there and I am in the works of writing a lot more.

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What a spectacular photo! There is so much I love about this – the gestures of the kids in the background – the slightly downturned face and confident, unflinching smile – the smudge of dust on his cheek. More, please.

I posted a whole blog about this amazing woman. It's almost a month old on my page. If you want to look through it, you can check it out here:

https://steemit.com/life/@derangedvisions/the-most-amazing-woman-that-i-don-t-know

My experience with her was one of my most memorable times I had in Tanzania.

There's a lot of wisdom in this post. What you say about choice kinda reminds me of an excerpt from Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar which is basically about how this lady is standing in front of a fig tree where every fig is a different dream. She doesn't know which one to choose and the figs are slowly rotting as she decides. As we grow older it seems to be more about what we aren't doing than what we are. Your photography is beautiful and your travelling adventures sound like they really helped you grow. I love how you call it writing with light, that's beautiful. I've been striving towards balance too and finding my own way of arriving at that center point which the japanese interpret as a state called ikigai.

I love, love , love that particular excerpt. The first time I read it, as a teenager, I felt like I was reading about myself.

My reference to 'writing with light' is actually a quite literal translation of the word 'photography'.

photo = light
graph = write

We're so accustomed to the word that we rarely see the root of it. The act of picture-taking has become so commonplace, we only focus on the result rather than the how. Yet the element that creates the image is, in fact, light.

Now I'm inspired – perhaps I should draft a post about this. ;)

Wow, I honestly felt connected in so many levels to everything you are writing here. I think I'm still in the starting part where I don't know what side to show. During the protests in my country last year, I had so many colleagues taking photos of the armed conflict, and injured people. At the beginning it's what I did also, mostly to show the truth due to the censorship we where living, but then I changed. I wanted to show the emotion and feeling behind that brave mask. Not the conflict but the person, the emotion. Get to people somehow. I felt a lot more confortable and happy approaching it this way. I do know I want to transmit more than just a pretty photo. It has to achieve something or else it's not worth it. Thank you, for sharing this part of your soul. You clearly share your perspective of the world in a way that attracts many. You're photos inspire more than you think they do. Trust me.

I'm grateful to know my work has such a positive effect on you, dear. :) What more can we ask for than to inspire others? I'd love to see your photos of those protests. Have you posted any on here yet?

I have! I actually thought of you on my last post. Not the same style, but I put so much heart into it I remembered your post!

That's the way to do it! :)

The fight against indifference is the only one that can really make a difference. I don't think you have squandered a single photon ever! Your taking in of our brilliance is reflected in all your photos. More we do not need in order to know ourselves and correct ourselves as best we can. Those who do do, those who cannot do not. Your work is sacred.

I appreciate your ability to so succinctly summarize. Thank you for seeing me.

You are doing a lot more to amplify the light in this world than most others. You yourself are a very very bright shining light, Zippy!! I so love reading your amazing, profound posts. You have a gift and I'm so glad that you share it with us.

I sincerely appreciate your sweetness, miss @caitycat. Always feels nice to be recognized by a light-filled soul as being so myself. ;) <3

I'm awe-struck by the beauty of these images.

Thank you @seablue. <3

You have emanated a life from the diadem of your soul...translating the whole of your experience in this quality piece of elegance, in all its forms...from the dance of your own light.
I love the brilliance of your hues of light.

Many thanks for your kind reflections. <3

There is just so much AMAZINGNESS in this post! Your pictures absolutely blow me away, and I love your perspective on sharing regardless of how many (or how few) you reach. Love the positivity you're spreading - bright blessings to you!

Thank you @traciyork! Miss lover of hearts, sprinkling love drops where'er you go. ;)

Awww, thanks @zipporah! Here are some love sprinkles for you!


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Seriously beautiful post! The struggle between focus and want is very recognizable. But in the end i think we all end up doing what we're good at, just because it makes us happy. And doing it by focussing on the positive aspects lends your energy to those and makes them stronger, which in turn makes it beautiful to others. When those two things combine you can go far. Thank you for this inspiration.

Very well articulated. Thank you @madevi. <3

Wonderful!!!!!

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Sweetness! Thank you @mammasitta! ;)

That child with the big eyes... still gets me every time!
Nice seeing it again.

Right!? Me, too. I'm endlessly in love with her.

This post has been selected for curation by @msp-curation by @clayboyn and has been upvoted and will be featured in the weekly philosophy curation post. It will also be considered for the official @minnowsupport curation post and if selected will be resteemed from the main account. Feel free to join us on Discord!

Amazing! Thanks @msp-curation. Big hug @clayboyn!

I'm resteeming this! It's too beautiful to not to.

Thank you, sweet one. ;)

WOW, I'm absolutely blown away by these photos! You truly capture something special in each and every one of them. My favorite one is the second to last one :)

Well I'm glad to have made such an impression! That b&w portrait is one of my favorite candid snaps. There is just so much genuine tenderness and grace in their embrace. I just got lucky with that one.

Some really magical images here.

Thank you, @damianjayclay. :)

Lovely post. Thank you

  ·  2 years ago Reveal Comment

beautiful post

lindas fotografías felicidades

Gracias!