The Door is Open

"When I feel like going out with my camera, I am going out because I want to see. I want to connect with the fire, the heat that is direct perception. I take myself as I am, whether I am sick, depressed, restless, or happy, and I throw myself upon the world, asking to be met. As the Buddhist nun and teacher Pema Chodron has said, 'You start where you are.' I am willing to relax and suspend my point of view without asking for anything in return. I am feeling generous, expansive, open, and ready to play.

"It is with this state of mind that I begin to walk around and look. I pay attention to the sensation of my body as it moves across the pavement. I breathe, I look, I feel the air as I move through it and it blows against my skin, the warmth of the sun, the moisture in the air. I don't know anything except that I am right here, right now. As thoughts come up in my mind, I bring myself back to the simplicity of my feet on the pavement. With each footstep I dissolve my thoughts and come back to right now. My thoughts don't interest me nearly as much as the possibility of discovery. As my thoughts become less frequent, I begin to settle into my body. My mind is alert, awake, and my intention is to see. My eye and mind seem united in the purpose I have set for myself.

"For this time, I am like an alien in this world; everything else exists, and always has, just as it is. I am a lone person on the planet to whom nothing is familiar. I depend upon a moment of grace to communicate, to make a connection. Out of the blue, I am met. My mind becomes still and silent. All sounds recede, time stops.

"I feel I'm in a new realm of experience. I look at what has presented itself, and my curiosity propels my investigation into its nature.

"What is it? What has caught my attention? As I look at it and feel its qualities, I understand its expression fully in my mind and my body. I am absorbed in the experience as I open to it and it fills my senses. I am no longer aware of my separateness. My senses are heightened and everything is vivid and brilliant. I feel alive.

Falling in Love

"When I engage in the discipline of direct seeing I deliberately enter a realm of possibility. I am so curious about the world and so eager to connect with it that I often feel that I am opening myself to new relationships. And over the years that I have done this practice, my relationships have evolved with it so that both in my personal relationships and my visual relationships, I don't settle for insincerity or small talk.

"For me to engage with someone or something, the relationship has to be based upon openness. From that ground arises respect and appreciation of the goodness that is there, that is expressing itself. There is an initial moment of engagement; something is percolating under the surface. Something comes forth to meet me and I am intrigued. I want to know more, investigate further. This is not a casual flirtation. I have been met and I have connected. I trust that this is the genuine deal because I don't know what else it could be. I couldn't make this up — it's too outside my zone of familiarity. It comes out of nowhere. I can't control it. If I can hang in there and stay with the moment without trying to be cool or smart, if I can stay totally open and without artifice, then there's a chance that I can connect fully.

"When I am open, something actually comes out to meet me. Great surprise, the world comes out to meet me! When that happens, all struggle seems to fall away and I experience my object of interest vividly, fully. I begin to melt. My heart feels so tender, so alive, like a vibration of space within me. Suddenly I know that I must commit to this experience, this perception.

"There is no deliberation, no hesitation. I raise my camera, adjust my depth of field and exposure, determine that what I see through the viewfinder is nothing more or less than the perception. I seal the experience when I push the button.

"I lower my camera as the experience begins to dissolve and rest in the sense of dissipation. Letting go, open space. Then, I walk away. I have been deeply touched."