Sunday, January 7, 2007

Keeping Watch

Originally uploaded by aceblush.
Woke up early this morning and went down to Ala Moana Beach Park to walk. Brought my camera with me, and took a bunch of shots, including this one of the sun rising over Diamond Head. Hawaii in a nutshell: the sun, the sky, the water, the clouds, the palm trees, the homeless woman next to the bench waiting to get warm.

Over the last few months I've been working on this blog and also taking pictures, again. I find that the two disciplines have some commonalities. Keeping the blog has been making me pay closer attention to the drift of my thoughts, because the implicit question of "What am I going to be able to write about tomorrow?" is always there in the background. Knowing that I am going to write tomorrow makes me pay a different kind of attention to what I do today. That's something that I originally learned from Donald Graves, whose argument for asking young children to write every day was rooted in the belief that if you develop the habit of writing it has an impact on the way you think. If you are writing a lot, in some way or another everything that you are experiencing and thinking about has a kind of double value, for what it is itself, and for what it may become when or if it is translated into words.

Likewise, carrying a camera around with me has made me pay a different kinds of attention to where I am and what is going on around me. It's not always a comfortable way of dealing with the world, because I'm more or less constantly putting imaginary frames around what I am seeing, and that sometimes gets old. But it does tend to ratchet up my visual alertness and to generate a certain kind of energy that feels purposeful and productive.

I don't consider myself to be either a writer or a photographer in a formal sense. I write because it helps me to think things through, and what does show up on paper, or on the screen, has the advantage of being Not Nothing. Something is accumulating, and perhaps some part of that will turn out to have value. Similarly, I'm accumulating a portfolio of pictures (archived on Flickr) that is a sort of visual notebook, a way of capturing impressions the things I like about the world—this school, this city, this state, this country, this planet—that I feel myself fortunate to be living in.

And then every once in a while, as in these posts, the two disciplines intersect with one another, which for me feels like a bonus. There's another set of disciplinary intersections—involving, strangely, tai chi, piano, and teaching,that interests me as well, but that is a post for another day. Aloha nui loa.

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