I’m always in awe of my flowers blooming from seeds that I planted in the spring. Planting, growing, and blooming happens year round all around us every which way we look, but each time I take a closer look I am impressed by nature. Oddly enough even in the face of such miraculous beauty, I noticed that when I want to take a picture I search for the so-called perfect flower. I notice if the petals are a mess or out-of-order I look for a more perfect flower. It seems so silly and absurd when I think about it now, a more perfect flower? All the flowers are perfect. I stopped myself and really examined my thought process. I then took a whole bunch of pictures of this imperfect perfection found in the flower garden. I was looking at them differently. The beauty in the flower is the flower, not the perfection that we impose upon it. The best picture, in my opinion ended up being the great big sunflower bloom with the petals split at the top. I could have “fixed” the flower, or the picture with editing, but I thought better of it. That day took me back to a Ram Das talk that I love about seeing people like trees. In this case flowers, but the same idea. Here’s one quote from his website talking about it.
I think that part of it is observing oneself more impersonally. I often use this image, which I think I have used already, but let me say it again. That when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.
So, in my case I was actually judging flowers at the moment I realized my mistake. I am a product photographer for catalogs and web pages so my eye is trained to look for a lack of balance or symmetry. I am editing a picture in my mind before I take the picture. So I have to catch myself when it comes to photographing nature and people to see the natural beauty that needs no editing or filtering. This thought experiment led me evaluate how I was looking at myself and others in my life.
I tend to get lost in self-improvement and trying to be better so much that I lose sight of the beauty of where I am now and loving this moment. Nothing is wrong with trying to be better, but when we don’t allow for the place we are right now to be acceptable we lose something precious. Just like I looked at the petals that were bent instead of the whole flower, I look at the my own flaws and magnify the imperfections instead of seeing myself as a whole human being perfectly imperfect.
I practice being mindful of how I see others and drop the assumptions and judgement and allow for that person’s beauty to be seen like a tree just growing this way and that. I allow the same for myself and try to remember that I was just a seed, and I am growing like a tree bending towards the light, living, breathing and being part of the miraculous world which is all interconnected and growing and learning how to love.