I took another 100-step photowalk over the weekend. These mini photo journies are teaching me how to find the beauty in front of me regardless of where I stand and I am soaking in the lessons. I've done a fair amount of emotional rock climbing the past few months which has taught me a bit more about what it truly means to release control, accept responsibility and just trust.
I notice that during times of difficult transition it is all too easy for me to focus on the parts of my life that look nothing like the pages I see in magazines and put up blinders to all that is amazing in my world. Which is exactly why these steps, though seemingly small on the surface, are becoming increasingly more important to me as a metaphor for looking at what I see in my own life.
I jokingly refer to my area in Los Angeles as the ghetto. I don't live in in a peaceful, cozy, tranquil coastal village lined with surfboards and painted in shades of aquamarine and turquoise and ethereal sky light or in a renovated farmhouse placed just so on a rolling lavendar field blanketed in the light of the late afternoon golden sun in Tuscany or in a chic apartment in Paris where every step is a treasure to behold, or an enchanted Hobbit house nestled deep in the Pacific Northwest woods... well, not yet anyway.
I know the truth is that most of us don't live in the perfect picturesque setting either. However, I sometimes feel I need to work a bit harder to seek out the beauty that lies outside my front door just for the simple fact that I am not happy with where I live and ache for something more for myself and my family.
So, this time spent focusing on counting steps, pausing, opening, seeing and not overthinking it brings me back to a place of gratitude and seeing the beauty exactly where I stand. It reminds me to slow down and take a moment, focus, breathe deeply and know that everything is falling into place exactly as it should be. My job is to just trust that where I stand is where I need to be in the moment. This frees me up to get out of my own way and let go of the idea that there is something better ten or twenty steps ahead or behind me, allowing me to fully focus on where I am now. And that any excuse I create for finding nothing of value where I stand is of my own making.
These photos aren't great photos by any means (though I think the beauty of exercises like these is that you ultimately may end up with one or two standout photos) but they aren't meant to be. They are simply a practice in opening your eyes and stepping into what is front of us so that we don't stay blind to the beauty that is all around us. I think of it as yoga for the eyes, a way to connect me to my environment.
These steps remind me to pay attention to the details in the corners I would normally overlook and that beauty lies in spaces far greater than the obvious places we are often taught to look. They remind me that the unexpected appears when we least expect it. They remind me that beauty truly is everywhere if we open ourselves enough to seek it out.
They remind me to simply ask for what I want as was the case when I saw the beautiful girl with the gorgeous body art. I was nervous to ask, but there she was crossing my path coming up on step 100 and she was the beauty that I saw in front of me. She was so cute as I explained to her what I was doing, wanting so very much to stand perfectly still for me while the guy behind her was laughing at the whole scene. It's my favorite photo of this 100-step story and one I wouldn't have captured had I not taken these steps and asked for what I wanted.
These steps also remind me that the path is rarely straight and to just flow with the detours as was the case when Mia and I passed the girl going up the hill continuing to walk and count. Close to fifty steps in, Mia demanded we turn around and as any parent of a newly walking toddler will tell you, they win that round. Fifty-something steps back down the hill and we landed in front of a bicycle chained up on a curb. It's the same bike that you see behind the tattooed girl in the next photo and is another shot I would have missed had we continued along the intended path.
What I seem to Iearn over and over is it all seems to come back around to trusting that we will be guided wherever it is that we need to go. All roads lead to Rome as the saying goes and that the only thing we invite in when we try and control what our road to Rome looks like is stress. I think the lesson if finally sinking in.
These steps teach me how to let go and just trust. To trust that even though I have no idea yet what the path ahead looks like, that I will find something interesting and beautiful amongst the muck every 100 steps if I just stay open to seeking it out. It's not an easy lesson for me and one that I must practice consistently each day.
I'm just starting to play with Picture Show for the iPhone and decided to process all of these photos using this app to keep the story consistent.