Today there is a lot of talk about both selfies and metaphors. Selfies are the rage with those who have mobile phones. The purpose of a selfie in large part is to show others a photograph of us; they are self-revelatory. The object of metaphors is to take us to a place that is deeper and broader. It is not the essence of something; rather, it points to a thing’s essence; it opens us up to and is reflective of a thing’s essence.
Those of you who have been following my posts on Facebook the past several years know how magnetically attracted I am to wabi sabi. Wabi sabi is a Japanese concept that does not have a literal definition. It sees that which is old and decaying and broken and quite imperfect (whatever that means) as having great depth and meaning and transcendent beauty. Wabi Sabi is the lens thru which I see life and especially my own life. When I photograph a wabi sabi scene, that is my selfie. It reveals way more of the essence of me than does a snapshot of Jack Larson.
I also find all wabi scenes to be profound metaphors. They are not simply of themselves. They take us to a deeper reality; they point to a reality that the literal is incapable of communicating.
If you want a glimpse into the reality of Jack Larson, spend some time with this photograph. Those dead limbs that are all intertwined is my reality. My life has never been neat or tidy. It’s always been to some degree a mess. It has been an ongoing struggle. (For what it is worth, one of things you should know about photographers is that we all have more failures than successes.) Sometimes I can spend 2 or 3 hours on an image only to in the end delete it. All of my best efforts and hard work failed to create an image that I would be willing to hang on my wall. You should know that I don’t find these experiences upsetting. I am one who enjoys the process. Plus, I learn much more from my failures than from my quick successes.
Furthermore, this scene has in its midst plant life that is alway growing. And, it is surrounded by other magnificent trees that are very much alive. This is a profound gift for all of us. We all, no matter how difficult and painful our lives are at the moment, are surrounded and penetrated by love and compassion and forgiveness and blessing. We may not see or feel that reality. However, I truly believe that it is always there.
Plus, every fall this scene is a gorgeous display of color. It reminds me to always be grateful that I am still alive and kicking.
(NOTE: every work of art, no matter what its medium, is a selfie and a metaphor. I believe that there is a potential artist inside of each of us.)