An Excersize in Self-abandonment

I recently finished reading Zen in the Art of Archery.  As a whole, I didn’t find the book had all that much to offer, except for a brief discussion on how to aim and hit the target – or rather, how to not aim and not worry about hitting the target.  “Put the thought of hitting right out of your mind,” the master archer instructs.  “The hits on the target are only the outward proof and confirmation of your purposelessness at its highest, of your egolessness, your self-abandonment, or whatever you like to call this state.”   This egoless state is what I have been trying to cultivate in my poetry.  When I begin to write I try to put aside all that I think a good poem should be.  I ignore the voice in my head that tells me to aim my poem in a particular direction, to fill it with particular sentiments and images.  I write with abandon.

This archery metaphor is equally valid for the photographer.  Too often I go out with my camera with a particular kind of picture in mind, a particular light, a particular subject.  I have never gone out and just shot a bunch of stuff at random. So today that’s exactly what I did.  I drove into Portland, parked along the street, and walked up and down the blocks taking pictures.  I didn’t even lift the viewfinder up to my eye, but simply left the camera strapped around my neck and sort of pointed the lens in the general direction and pressed the trigger.  The result was surprising.  I had to straighten out some of the pictures in photoshop, but I was delighted to discover how the pictures were framed, and how the shadows played with the lights.  To see a few examples, check out my “People” page.


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