“I noticed that your posts and your retreats are all about gratitude, joy, beauty…you do know there is more than that, right? There is suffering, there is pain, there is ugly. It can’t be sunshine all the time.”
I am stunned to realize that my friend thinks that to “Celebrate What’s Right in the World” is to walk around pretending.
He couldn’t have been further from the truth.
I don’t deny what’s wrong but see that there is so much more that’s right. And like any artist, I am trying to draw you into a moment that might catch your breath and inspire change.
My dear friend, Dewitt speaks of training his technique. Like Dewitt, I have tried to develop an “eye”- a keen awareness of all that is going on around me and within me.
I scan the horizon, expanding my vision to include the full context, to see and feel the panorama of good and bad. But like a great photographer, I am deliberate about where I put my focus.
When I see possibility, like the tiny flash of colour in a wide angle lens, I zoom in on it, noticing that as I do so the frisson of hope builds. My attention to it allows it to grow in my awareness, but also in yours. It becomes an energy that fills me; a comfort and a hope.
A seed of an idea planted.
And in the moments of sadness and overwhelm? Dewitt’s question “What is the Next Right Answer?” whispers in my ear. Like a mantra, it quiets my mind. It stills the anxiety and turns me away from worry and catastophizing. There is always another answer, another way, a path forward. Look at your own photos, you never just take one. You keep the snaps going, looking for the one that will land as a happy surprise, that you become eager to share.
I have learned to edit my days with Dewitt’s question “What is there to fall in love with here?” By bringing to the foreground the one thing that fills me with tenderness, I am tethered to a moment of calm.
It is because “Celebration” is my resting place, my baseline, that I have the reserves to live through and not avoid those things that I wish I didn’t know.
I intentionally put time into the practices that build this mindset. Like building muscles, I build the capacity to be in gratitude, to taste joy, to create flow, to hold acceptance for “what is” and not run from the discomfort but sit in it while noticing that the glass is also half full.
These practices have become a way of life; they are not accessories. I live them constantly, deeply, with discipline, courage and joy. They hold me present, and as any good photographer knows, you’ve got to be there to get the shot.
To practice celebration is the most courageous thing I do – every day. A conscious choice to seek abundance and beauty. Trusting it inspires joyous laughter, beginner’s mind and belief in possibility. It reaffirms my sense of wonder and our responsibility to greater things.
Today I Celebrate you Dewitt.
Thanks for teaching me how to hold the camera!