Leaving for church the other day, I saw a bee wallowing in the morning glories just outside our back door, climbing deep into the flower and emerging again, covered in pollen before launching out heavy laden to where ever his hive might be.
Another bee arrived. There’s a theory that honey bees signal each other in some way, so when they find a treasure trove of flowers, they call others from the hive. “Food! Food!” Soon, I reasoned, there would be bees everywhere.
I went inside to get my camera.
My camera has been largely neglected the last eighteen months. I could blame it on the Pandemic and the fact that the kinds of places I go to take pictures – Museums, Old homes, public gardens, have been largely closed.
But I don’t really think that is the case. I think it has been more of a matter that in my recovery from cancer and radiation and more recently, a long bout of kidney stones, I have not just had the mental/emotional drive I normally have. It has been easier to use the Pandemic as an excuse, than to push myself to break the icejam of creativity and make myself once again see in the way a photographer sees.
Because there are pictures everywhere. There are paintings everywhere. There are poems everywhere. But we have to let ourselves see them. And act on that seeing.
It’s been coming back. Certainly poetry has come back.
Actually, it never left. Poetry is my core art. It is what I do when I cannot do anything else. It what I force myself to do even when I do not feel like it. It is my sanity-keeper. My therapy. My emptying out. And slowly, I have worked my way back into the studio, painting again. It’s been the slowest part of my recovery, far slower than the physical.
I took the picture. “Click. Click. Click.” The camera made its sound. The image was captured. I was happy with it – it was what I saw. It had been a while since that had happened. A while since I “saw” the image before I took the picture. Here on the blog, I have been coasting on years of past pictures. But little new. I just wasn’t able to see properly.
That same day, my wife and I drove to Cooperstown. We went to The Farmer’s Museum, a reconstructed 19th century farm town in upstate New York. From seeing the bee in the flowers, I found myself seeing pictures everywhere. I took hundreds of shots. “Click. Click.” the camera was hard at work. It was a good day. A day with the woman I love, but also a day of the seeing as I once did. I have been taking pictures as I once did, almost constantly, since.
I have been trying to get back to my ability to “see” pictures for a long time. But it just would not come. I could force it by taking pictures that I knew were technically well composed, but somehow, they lacked soul. They lacked life. It was discouraging. You can’t help but ask yourself, “Have I lost it? Lost my eye? Lost my vision?”
Recovery is a strange thing. It comes in steps. It comes over time. You can’t rush it. But you can’t ignore it. If you do the work, day in and day out, the results come. True in the physical True in the mental/emotional/spiritual realm. If we do the work, we get the results. Our brains and our bodies are amazing things. Work is good for us. Doing the work makes it happen.
And thank goodness. Another step in wholeness. Maybe I will get to where I want to get, Maybe I won’t. But I make progress. Even when I do not think I am. And that is the most important thing of all. Not the end result, but the progress, the journey. Day, after day, after day.
The bees would probably agree.
Be well. Travel wisely,