Early on in our relationship, Michael and I were walking through our neighborhood. I think we had walked up to our local library or maybe up to get a sandwich from Planet Sub. I don’t remember, but on our way back to the house, I stopped to take a picture of the sidewalk. Michael stood there, watching me as I crouched down real close to this one particular square of sidewalk and then he said “I don’t get it. What are you taking a picture of?” I looked up at him and then pointed at a spot in the concrete and said “there’s a heart!” There was a place where the concrete had been chipped or gouged out and it was shaped like a heart. To be fair, it was a small heart and it wasn’t painted a color to make it stand out. You had to be really paying attention to see it, but it was there. The most important and valuable thing that I have gained from taking pictures is how it has changed the way I look at my surroundings. Or maybe I should use the past tense ‘looked’. Sometimes things become so routine in your daily life that you don’t even notice you’re doing those things any more. I’ve grown sloppy in the way I look around me and maybe do not pay as close attention as I once did.
śabda-jñāna-anupātī vastu-śūnyo vikalpaḥ: imagination is a word, a sound, or expression where there is no such object or reality to it. - 1/9 Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The discussion for this sutra said that we should treat our imaginations like a garden, constantly tending to it. It went on to say “Express yourself so feverishly that you can observe what is growing in your garden.” There is something about the discussion of this sutra that made flash bulbs go off in my head. “Express yourself so feverishly…” It is not enough to just nurture your craft, photography, writing, painting or whatever it might be, but you must also see your craft, enjoy the beauty of it or look for places of improvement. Occasionally we pick the flowers from our gardens and display them in a lovely vase on the kitchen table. Occasionally we eat the vegetables we have been cultivating and caring for. I’ve let my imagination garden get weedy and over grown. I have straight up neglected it. I don’t even know what is growing in that garden any more. It’s time to clean it up and take stock of what’s growing and what needs to be replanted.
Sometimes you come across a string of words that you needed to hear or read right at the exact moment you needed to hear or read them. I am grateful for those words.