What was your first impression when you saw this stunning photo? Ok, so I probably influenced you with my title, but I had to put something…! Let me know, before or after reading my thoughts and inspiration.
This is the image I referred to in my post announcing my new photobook project with my friend Ken, the one which leapt out of the screen, so to speak, when looking at images to use for the book, whose theme is Inspiration.
It’s not hard to see why I chose it, it has so many elements of a great photo: contrast, different light, haze in the background, yet crispness in the fore, reflection, a path winding away into the distance…Ken will describe these elements with much more proficiency than I can.
So I will let the inspiration flow through me and see what ends up on the page.
What do you see when you look at the pool of rainwater?
At first an indistinct reflection, maybe. Pebbles answering the light as their damp surface sparkle in the midst of deep shade.
Looking a bit closer more points of light peak out of the shadows like fireflies. And in the still calm water, we recognise the trees and undergrowth behind, even a glimpse of the illuminated mist pouring into the clearing.
What would we find if we were to return the next day to this idyllic scene…?
Where will the path lead?
We are clearly standing on a path. Any path is a metaphor for life and a great starting point for inspired thought.
In this case, it feels particularly inspiring – and indeed affected my title of the original post (a magical, mysterious tour through who-knows-where), though I suspect we will change the title for the inspiration photo book of which this will form a part.
The path itself provides a rich seam from which to draw. It twists away through the trees and undergrowth, disappearing into the mist.
It is wide at the point where we stand, but we have water and slippery stones to navigate and it looks as if it narrows in the distance.
What do we see when we look in the mirror? Do we immediately see everything or do we find ourselves looking closer (or do we never bother)? Is it what’s really there or is it tainted by our subjective reality? Is it the same every day?
I know what it’s like to look in the mirror and not see what’s really there. So often, as my teenage face stretched and grew, I let others dictate my self-image.
I also know that what you see changes, and not just because the body changes over time. As I learnt to see past what I didn’t like to who I really am, two things happened: I realised that who we are on the inside is much more important, that this is what people really see – and love; this then allowed me to begin to accept what others saw on the outside as well as the inside – accept a different perspective on the person in the mirror.
"Sometimes all it takes is a smile"...
A final reflection on reflections…I have noticed that our perception of others’ physical attractiveness can change as we get to know and like them as people. On more than one occasion, I have met people who don’t conform to a commonly held view of beauty (not that I subscribe to that) or who kind of put me off at first with their demeanour, who turned out to have amazing personalities which – sometimes quite suddenly – made them very attractive. Sometimes all it takes is a smile…
If we just focussed on the puddle and the slippery rocks, on how little of the path we can see, or indeed on the darkness all around, we might feel apprehensive of moving forward.
In reality, of course, looking to the side, there is an easy way forward. And, just as when we drive down a dark road at night, trusting that the road will not suddenly end, so would we continue down the path to see what lay ahead.
As absurd as it sounds, we regularly do the same thing in life. We let circumstances slow us down or even stop us, sometimes at the slightest sign of difficulty.
Suddenly, a few pebbles become an enormous obstacle for us as we let limiting beliefs, fears and doubt get the better of us.
This is one of the reasons why I love this photograph so much.
It represents, on the one hand, elements which remind us of potential obstacles, yet, on the other, each element forms part of a delicious composition of beauty and intrigue which begs us to explore.
I wonder how many events and circumstances in our lives we blow up out of all proportion and let them stop or slow us down.
Carrying this photo round with me reminds me that we always have a choice how to interpret what is around us and choose to see the beauty even in apparent difficulties.
In this way we can recognise not only that we learn from them, that our challenges define us and help us grow, but that there is beauty in the challenge itself.