Hello, Life Experiment #3 (plus an update).

laser cut cubes

In this Year of Exper­i­ments, the past month was about Cre­at­ing Order, and in fact, some order has been cre­ated, though–as The Orga­nizer warned me there might be, lots remains to be done.

Here’s what my base­ment looked like then.

The Orga­nizer takes stock










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.

13 thoughts on “Hello, Life Experiment #3 (plus an update).

  1. Very inspi­ra­tional thoughts about the exper­i­ments, I’m a recent fol­lower
    after your father men­tioned that you blogged I looked you up. I really like the theme of Planb as well, it fits so well with the times. All the best with “classes” for the kids, it seems to me it’s a lit­tle like a giv­ing advice to a new­bie in AA, who get more from the advice?

  2. Amy, I love your idea of a Year of Life Exper­i­ments. #2 about order is res­onat­ing with me. Check out one of my lat­est posts (http://bit.ly/AFd65H ) on orga­niz­ing my closet and my mind and you’ll see why. And I’ll be inter­ested in see­ing how #3 goes and look for­ward to your pho­tographs. I just got a new cam­era also and am still exper­i­ment­ing. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Mary–and I just read (and com­mented on) your orga­ni­za­tion post, which I really enjoyed read­ing. Also noticed a num­ber of other entic­ing posts, espe­cially the one about women-led start ups and Shut­terbabe (obvi­ously very in sync with this month’s Life Exper­i­ment) Look for­ward to return­ing to read more!
      amy gut­man recently posted…How to get out of bedMy Profile

  3. @Anne C.J. — Thank you! Your pho­tos have def­i­nitely been an inspiration.

    @Anne F — Yes! What I’m aim­ing for this month is more atten­tive­ness, though. Also to learn to use this new cam­era. My cell phone pics of a jaw-dropping full moon were … dis­ap­point­ing. (As in, what is that bright pin­prick in the black space, and why did you pho­to­graph it?)

    @Laurie: Yes, yes! I just emailed you. Let me know if you didn’t get it. (amy@planbnation.net)

    @Sarah P–So lovely to see you here! Being a slave to order is some­thing that (for bet­ter or worse) I do not grap­ple with. Slave to chaos? Sounds famil­iar. I’m hop­ing order & I will develop a work­ing rela­tion­ship. Also, on another topic, big con­grat­u­la­tions on your book (Julia’s Child, every­one), which I’ve been hear­ing great things about on Twit­ter. Added to my to-read list. :-)

    @Cathy: Thank you! And hope the pick­ling (and all else) is going well.

    @Marion: As always, thanks for being such a sup­port­ive pres­ence. You’ve been with me from ear­li­est FB days as well as ear­li­est blog days. Very grate­ful for that. :-)
    amy gut­man recently posted…How to get out of bedMy Profile

  4. When I first started pho­tograph­ing a few years ago (after aban­don­ing it when a pho­to­jour­nal­ism class in col­lege sucked all the joy out of my inter­est), I heard sev­eral pho­togs say that they were good because they could “see light”. I bought that at first, not see­ing it for the pompous remark it is. While light is key in pho­tog­ra­phy, what I think it really does is open your eyes to the world in a dif­fer­ent way, just as you antic­i­pate it will. Have fun with your exper­i­ment. I hope you post some of your work here.

    I’ve done the same daily since the begin­ning of the year. For the past month, nearly every day the pho­tos were taken on the same five mile stretch of green­way that I walk. Every day I see some­thing new.
    Anne Camille recently posted…The for­est of fight­ing treesMy Profile

  5. Amy, do you ever review books? I noticed in this piece that you spoke of work­ing with fos­ter kids. I have a book about fos­ter­ing and rais­ing a severely trau­ma­tized child. It’s been get­ting some stel­lar reviews but very few sales. Might you be inter­ested? It’s RAISING ABEL writ­ten with the pen name Car­olyn Nash. It’s on Ama­zon. You can see some of the reviews there. I’d be happy to send you a copy with no obligation.

    I’ve just been laid off from my 11 year job and recently started read­ing your blog. Rings so true. One of the rea­sons I’m tak­ing things in hand and try­ing to get the word about my book out.

  6. The great­est cool thing for me about the advent of cell phones with cam­eras has been that I always have my cam­era. Sure it’s great for snap­ping pic­tures of the kids, but I’ve got­ten into the habit of stop­ping and tak­ing pic­tures of a pretty sky, a neat rail­ing, a lovely flower. It has given me some­thing very big even though they’re just ratty, muddy cell phone snaps.
    Anne F. recently posted…Reculer…My Profile

  7. Wise words, pow­er­ful pics! Con­grats, Amy, progress not per­fec­tion. I’ll res­onate with that one!

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