A few days ago, I followed a Twitter link to a music video.
I wasn’t intending to actually watch this video. I was trying to finish something I was writing and was just taking a quick break. I didn’t recognize the name of the song in the tweet, and so I just clicked over to see if I knew it or not.
But what happened was that the video grabbed me in the first couple of seconds – and I couldn’t not watch the whole thing then.
This video is absolutely beautiful – in this hypnotic way that just compels your attention.
At least, that’s how it was for me. Maybe somebody else wouldn’t have the same reaction? I’ve been trying to examine why I did – because, in truth, if I were to describe this video in words, I would have to say: “It was footage of various animals in the wild, with the song lyrics super-imposed on top.” And that doesn’t sound like something that would be necessarily interesting to me.
It also doesn’t sound like a particularly noteworthy concept. It’s not novel in the manner of, say THIS – which I also saw via Twitter recently. (WOW.)
But that doesn’t seem to matter.
Seriously – how many times in my life have I seen pictures of, say, a zebra? “Many” would be the answer to that. I’ve also seen zebras in real-life. But, having seen this video now, I have to say that I’m not entirely sure I ever really SAW a zebra before – until I watched this. This video was breathtaking – it really, really was.
Take a look and see if you have a similar reaction:
I’ve been taking more pictures lately. I got a new phone early this month that has a decent camera – not great, but okay enough to make it worthwhile to finally give Instagram a go (which I’ve been wanting to do for a while.) So I just started an Instagram account.
Besides messing with Instagram and messing with GIMP a little bit, I’ve been looking at a lot of photography, trying to identify what I like and why in the work of others.
Basically, I’m trying to give myself some time to engage in a more particular and focused way in what has been a longtime hobby (photography) – but one that I’ve never taken particularly seriously. I’m curious to see, if I really prioritize it, how much (if at all) I’m capable of improving my skills.
Part of this is being driven by the fact that I’ve realized recently that, much as I love writing and consider writing as my most natural medium of expression, there are inherent limitations to expression via language. The post series I wrote for the new year, for example: there were things I wouldn’t have been able to talk about effectively there, even to myself, if it weren’t for the aid of this personal musical history I was laying out. Music is so powerful.
I’m not a musician and never will be – but that’s okay. Expressing myself via music that I create isn’t something I’m drawn to. But there are other mediums besides writing that I feel very drawn to right now. Painting, for example. I shouldn’t even mention that one because I’m quite bad at it – but it’s fun. And strangely satisfying, despite the fact that what I’m producing is awful. Mixed media also intrigues me – particularly work that mixes visual and textual elements.
But, outside of writing, it’s photography that feels most natural to me. I’m curious to see what I can do with that, given the chance. (So I’m giving myself the chance!)
I can’t say I’ve noticed any improvement in my photography skills yet. I’m not producing anything particularly interesting.
But I can say that I’m noticing, since I started to put more conscious emphasis on this visual medium, that I’m starting to see things around me differently – and it’s kind of interesting. Textures, patterns, colors. Light, form, line. The way somebody carries themselves, the way they hold their face in repose, the way their eyes change when they’re interested. It’s not that I didn’t see these things before, but it’s increasing.
I like that. I like how “noticing” adds depth to pretty much any experience.
And I like how, on a personal level, it helps me to remember to be aware of myself – of my breath and all of that. You can’t heighten your awareness of the visual world without also heightening to some degree your own sense of how you yourself are existing within that world. At least, I can’t.
And that’s helpful to me.
I need to LIVE my life…fully.
I wrote that new year post series in part because I wanted to think about where I’ve been and why – and see if I could glean any lessons from the exercise.
I did – and it was this.
I did kind of grasp this about myself before I wrote the series. But writing it, looking back in that manner, really solidified it for me.
I need to deeply engage with life. This isn’t a negotiable thing for me. As far as my happiness and contentment and satisfaction are concerned, it’s the absolute determining factor.
I’ve come to understand that the only way to accomplish the sort of engagement I’m talking about is to live mindfully – to cultivate a mindful and thoughtful approach to living. It’s about the way you move through the space you inhabit, and about how you allow yourself to experience that space.
You have to remember to breathe – that’s the first step. Because when you do, you ground yourself – which in turn allows you to feel and experience in an authentic way, not just superficially react. And when you can feel and experience authentically, your world opens up and you notice things you wouldn’t have noticed before. And that’s when it becomes possible to see levels and layers to things that you would otherwise have missed. And everything becomes fuller and richer and deeper.
And that’s what I want.
Of course, I can write this and sound like I have things figured out…but that doesn’t mean I’m good at accomplishing any of this. I’m getting better, I think…but it’s really hard! It’s actually one of my biggest personal challenges right now. I thwart myself all the time.
So between the post series and the photography, I was already thinking along these lines – about mindfulness, and about taking the time to really see the things around me. But this video, when I saw it, took my little threads of thoughts and amplified them – and then basically delivered them back to me in this really compelling visual way.
That’s why it grabbed me the way it did, I think.
It’s funny how sometimes you come across things – signposts, helpful hints, whatever you want to call them – when you need them. And they help to guide you to a particular path – or reinforce the validity of the one you’re on.
I think that’s what this video was for me.