Photography by Reg Good

I think people coming to the show would like this photo,’ I suggested. ‘No.’ In one of our many conversations, my friend, photographer and fellow life seeker, Hans Burgschmidt, was pointing me in another direction. ‘Why do you hang photos in a show?...he asks and answers... to learn more about yourself.’

He’s telling me I don’t choose to hang a photo because I think someone might like it. It’s sufficient that I like it. Robert Bly, poet and author, says one can escape darkness and chaos by finding a simple thing one loves, excluding all else, and building one’s life around that small, simple thing. ‘It might be,’ he says, ‘a bit of red ribbon in a window or a strand of music.’ It may be a view out a window or a desk in the corner; or a special pen, or a place you walk to. Some one thing you love. And around that one simple love, you can rebuild your life.

Stuff is everywhere. Piles of magazines to read. Books unread. Thousands of songs. Closets of clothes. Boxes and boxes of storage… What do you love? What one small thing do you love? Let it all go, say the sages, except for what you love. Then comes light. That is photography for me, a way to exclude everything but that one small moment that touches me within, makes me feel alive, that I am alive. That bit of light I am compelled by love to frame with my camera. So that is the photo I hang in the show -the one I love.

And you see it; and you see me exposed, that bit of myself that is not words or thoughts, but a moment I loved. And should the photo hanging in the show speak to you in some way, then you and I have made a meaningful connection, no matter how fleeting.

And you and I gain something from having shared a moment. I learn to love myself more because your attention to the thing I love gives my life value; and for your part, you learn that what you value is also shared by someone else. So what you and I really experience in an image is a life which is deeper and larger than ourselves. And as psychologist James Hillman points to, it's not so much that this deeper sense of life, whatever we call it -muse, soul, anima, other, or one of the names for The Other- not that it is inside each of  us separately, but we are inside it. When we share a deeper and inner knowing, we are, in that moment, at one -  at one with each other and everything because we all are of that one deep unknowing; Not that it is us, but we are it, all of us belonging and being in that same it.

Meaning in life cannot be what I want, or what you want, but rather what we love. A lived life is not something I manage or plan for, but rather is an encounter with love that comes only when I am open to other people, and open to a larger and greater life than my own. Only is living possible when we see that life is all around us, and not about us. If I walk down the street trying for a good photo, wanting to get a great photo, then I have nothing at the end of the day. If taking a photo is about me, my ego, I fail desperately. Instead, I have to say to myself, ‘I may not take any photos today. Making a photo is not something I control.’ With this attitude, I am available to the world around me, and when open to that world around me, I can receive its gift.

I do not know what is best for me. I listen and wait and see what gift the world would give me today. What bit of light today comes to me, and teaches me about love? Minor White, writer and photographer extraordinaire, writes in Mirrors Messages Manifestations, “Be still with yourself, until the object of your attention, affirms your presence.” For me that object of attention I desire is light, life, love.


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