Here’s what my basement looked like then.
Here’s what it looks like now:
As they say in 12-step programs, it’s about progress not perfection.
That being said, here is what I’ve found: Order is calming. Order is freeing. Order is something I want. Order is also, as one friend noted, always a work-in-progress. It’s a habit, not a goal.
As it happens, the same is also true of the act of forging human connections–the focus of Life Experiment #1, where I connected (or re-connected) with 30 people over the course of January. Much more to be said about that, but for now, just to note that this practice also underscored for me the importance of habit.
So here’s the bottom line: where I started envisioning this Year of Experiments as consecutive, I’m increasingly starting to see it as cumulative. Spending some time–in this case, a month–consciously focusing on a quality that enriches my life is sort of like planting a seed.
And now for Life Experiment #3, which is about seeing more (and seeing differently) and framing (and re-framing). Or to put it in concrete terms, during this month, I’ll be taking at least one photograph each day.
There are a bunch of reasons I settled on this particular Life Experiment.
For one thing, I got a new camera a few months back, and I’ve yet to really use it. For another–and this is a big one–I’ve just started co-teaching a photo and writing workshop for foster kids and am awed by what I’m reading and seeing. I won’t say much more about that–their stories are theirs–but this is another way to connect with what they’re doing.
I also know from past experience that using a camera opens up the world in new and unexpected ways. Years ago, I spent some summer weeks at the Maine Photographic Workshops (now Maine Media Workshops), and I recall a pervasive sense of heightened awareness. Thought it occurs to me that this may not be saying much–I am someone whose boyfriend once shaved his mustache for her as a birthday gift (It was not my favorite look) and I failed to notice. That is until he told me that the mysterious gift he’d been hinting at for hours was “right under your nose–or rather under my nose.”
So clearly, I can use some practice with this seeing thing. As always, you’re welcome to join me. I hope that you will.
© 2012, amy gutman. All rights reserved.