White on Black

 

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Feather on Block Island State Beach: Photo by Noelle

I am enthralled with bits of light. The hunger for the right sort of light, is at the heart of my interest in black and white photography. It’s an odd feeling, that moment, when the piece you are working with suddenly strikes this perfect balance of white on black. As if a piece of me suddenly solidifies out of the ether, into this very potent now, that didn’t exist before.

Possibly it didn’t exist.

Maybe we are all manifesting ourselves, moment to moment, by what we create and connect with in our lives. Versions of ourselves no different than photography filters. Each choice, each passion, each belief, steadily constructing this moment’s version of ourselves, that could change with the next decision.

It’s said that the distance between molecules is so great within us, that we are really made up of more nothing than something. That at a subatomic level what we think we are is ether, nothingness, vast empty landscapes of potentiality waiting to erupt into existence. Dynamic vapors each of us, winking into existence over and over again at such high speeds, we appear like something out of nothing.

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Visit From My Old, Atlantic Friend: Photo by Noelle

In photography, I can pull out light and deepen shadows, dramatically altering the quality of an image. I can tweak the shades of gray and imbue a scene with opalescent highlights.

I can do this in character and perspective, too. Change who I am, drawing out more of one quality over another. I need only change my mind, make a new decision, intend something I have never intended so powerfully before.

These days I lean toward more light, less darkness, but it’s there – my shadow side. She is, in every sense an old, if not often deluded friend. But her delusions about how the world works, have just become the backdrop for seeing my way into more profound truths. My darker side is not an aberration, but part of my artistry.  A necessary depth in the dimensional me I come to learn anew each day.  She lurks in the dark spots of the wave, the dense parts of mountainsides, the vanishing portion of a blade of grass. My shadow is what sets the stage for my light.

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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

It’s clear there is always some focal point or object at the heart of my search in each image. Yet, it can only come by its contrast to structures around it that are darker. The contrast of white on black, shows me something I came to see.

Look at any of these images and the sea of darkness far outweighs the light. In fact, at a qualitative level, the intensity of the light is in direct proportion to the amount of darkness that surrounds it. The greater the sea of darkness the more intense the bits of light.

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Old Harbor, Block Island, RI: Photo by Noelle

Dark matter in the Universe, in a sense, seems to work this way, too. We can’t see it with any known measuring scale or technique because it interacts with nothing known to us. We know it exits however, by it’s gravitational pull on the objects we do see. It is the force that surrounds the things illuminated to us.

I feel this inside of me more and more each day. The more I turn into what disturbs me, darkens my doorway, makes me want to pull away from myself, only accents how powerfully light the other parts of me are. They go hand and hand, this white on black.

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Wildflowers in a dark wood: Photo by Noelle

All of this is really to say we don’t understand darkness.

We don’t appreciate its value, weight and importance in understanding what we deeply wish to see. That each goes hand and hand with the other. We have such fear of pain and suffering we can’t perceive what part darkness plays in our lives, inside our psyche or in how things are unfolding all around us. We break things down into good or bad, right or wrong, but this really robs us of a larger context and meaning to the people, places and things we interact with.

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Wild on the trail, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

I look upon the shadows cast by these mountain trail wildflowers. They are of the flowers, of course, and yet they have a beauty unto themselves that changes throughout the day, as the sun moves across a boundless sky. The beauty of the flowers is bolder against the dark shadows that dance around them all day long. Even more delicious, the darkness of the shadow can only be experienced by the white sand that rests beneath the shadows themselves. White on black, black on white.

When I look at how my own goodness has come to me, or maybe its better to say floated to the surface and shown itself, it’s on its arrival in my darkest moments. It’s weight and quality are not understood exclusively alone, but by how I perceived the darkness around these pieces of luminescence within me. Or how it seems the darkness itself refracts back to me a light, I could’ve only seen by the very darkness I dreaded to face inside of myself.

I look at the image below, and feel a deep sense of peace as the light of small leaves rises out of the dark forest floor. I understand the balance I feel inside myself, as the image finds it’s right balance of white on black.

So much of me is light petals on dark, earthy mulch.

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In a wood near Allenspark, CO: Photo by Noelle

 

If you enjoyed this piece, I would be honored if you checked out my book, Into Your Meditation available by clicking on this link or the one on the upper right  hand sided of this post.

Beginner’s Mind

Image re-posted from The Mind Unleashed Facebook Page


Image re-posted from The Mind Unleashed Facebook Page

I thought I was at center. I felt as balanced as a ballerina in Swan Lake. At the place of nirvana where cherry blossoms float down and the world smells of nag champa. Where you aren’t wrestling snakes in the evangelic’s circus tent, but sipping honey from lily cups. One of those cool Zen-catching moments that Ram Dass and Kornfield talk about as casually as the goodness of roasted potatoes at Sunday supper. You know when the sky opens as to Moses and you’re blessed with eternal peace. Then the horns blared and I looked at the dashboard clock. Funny how certain we can be about things, until we’re not.

Time. The time to get from here to there. It haunts me like a wolf. If I can let the time go then I’m catching Phoenix feathers and dropping into downward facing dog, a hawk swooping Earth. Hourglass snatches me up, though, and she is a mean old, nanny demanding I learn my lessons. Feels like someone should have mentioned that time is a whip cracking in your head that’ll be your undoing if you aren’t careful. Instead we are offered lovely chimes to mark it.

I thought enlightenment was a place, like Intercourse, Pennsylvania where it was always funny to touch that spot on a map. That with the right amount of effort and time I’d be there, properly dressed and ready for congratulations. The fattest, blissed out cat, in full lotus that ever walked through the doors of the Ritz Carlton of the Tao Te Ching.

Oh, all of the thoughts you have thunk, little grasshopper.

A work in progress from The Writer’s Church in Boulder, CO. Hosted by Marj Hahne. Inspired by “Elegance” by Fleda Brown.