Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Art of Contentment

by Kelly

“I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask no more.” ~ Henry Fielding

Seeking.  Striving.  Exploring.  Learning.

All words you could use to describe the early stages of my relationship with photography.  And I do not believe it was a coincidence that I was also approaching my life the same way at the time…working through my mid-life crisis/empty-nest issues.  Looking for answers to some of life’s big questions.

In the beginning, I spent so much time and energy behind the lens and in front the screen…when I look back, it really was a time of very active growth.  I was reading everything I could get my hands on.  Experimenting with technique and style.  Making big discoveries about both my Life and my Art.

Life and Art….for me they always seem to go hand in hand.  

Lately though, it’s been a different story.  Less striving…less struggling.  A certain sense of quiet peace about both my life and my photography.

So, just to be clear, I am absolutely NOT pretending that life is perfect and I have all my problems worked out!  And I’m certainly not stating that I don’t have room to grow in my photography!  I guess what I am trying to say is that even in the midst of their imperfections and incompleteness, I feel content in both of these areas in my life right now.  For now, I am satisfied with where I am at.

Even as recently as a couple of years ago though this kind of quietness (or anything even **remotely** resembling emptiness) would have sent me into major hustle mode – Take a new class!  Start a new project!  I would have found some way to busy it up.  Fill up the space.  I had this notion that if I was not actively pursuing improvement in my Art then basically I was a total slacker.

But I am slowly learning Art isn’t only found in the relentless striving and the big epiphanies.  Art is wherever the heart is, so that means there can also be Art in contentment as well.

Finding the heart in my Art…it’s the core of my word for the year – CONNECT.  Connecting my hands, my head, and my heart in all of my creative pursuits.  And beyond the surface connotation of how it might apply to crafty-type endeavors, instead, where I am truly focusing my attention is in motivation behind my Art.  Making sure my Art is not driven by one of my “Big Three Art Killers”:

  • the comparison trap
  • fear of missing out
  • hustling for worthiness

So then what does finding contentment in my Art look like?  For me, it starts with acknowledging the ebb and flow of creativity.  Getting comfortable with the seasons of life.  I believe the art of contentment also has its foundation in gratitude and mindfulness.  Staying present and avoiding my tendency to find distraction from uncomfortable situations and emotions.  And lastly, for me especially, resisting the urge to fill this quiet peacefulness with empty busyness.  

I think it's important here to add here that contentment is not complacency.  Whereas complacency is rooted in smugness and pride, contentment owes its origins to fulfillment and serenity.  Complacency boldly proclaims that I have learned enough.  Contentment whispers that there is much more to learn, but I am ok with the not-knowing.  

So to that end, I continue to pursue my creative vision of finding magic, wonder, and joy in my ordinary life. I still take photos everyday.  I'm still working to nail focus and exposure.  I am still looking to composition to help me accurately tell the story in my photo.  Because I want to continue to evolve as a photographer and as a person.  And I believe that being happy where I am right now is rich and fertile ground from which to grow.
Until next time,



Lisa Comperry said...

I go thru those same cycles when my creativity ebbs and flows, or changes mediums...Over the years I learned not to feel guilty when I am in the ebb phase..Sooner or later my inspiration comes back in full force :-)

Carol said...

This is just perfect -its such a satisfying feeling to accept the learning process. Life is not perfect and comparison has no place in your own vision. May I also say that experience plays such a part. You work hard producing not one, but two blogs -I assume that means daily writing -and I want to just say how neautiful your writing has become -right along side your wonderful photography and definite style! You are so talented! But more important -this piece shows how wise you are!

Dotti said...

Ahhhh - your photos are a wonderful breath of a new Spring season! And, yes, our lives and our art ebb and flow as do the tides each day; it's the natural order of things. I'm a firm believer that when our creativity is at ebb tide, this is the time when our creative muscles are storing up energy for the inevitable high tide that will follow, when we seem to feel creativity oozing out of every pore. Just as our bodies need a period of rest, so, too, do our creative energies.

Marie Rogers said...

So beautifully written and so much to focus on. Peg Rogers

Anonymous said...

Very well spoken, Kelly! Your photos are spectacular, thanks for sharing!

Renuko Style said...

Such a beautiful post Kelly, both your soft encouraging words and your peaceful images. Thank you.

AFishGirl said...

Contentment. I call it peace. It's a word I think about a lot. Sing that "I got a peaceful easy feeling..." song. There. Ear worm compliments of Fishgirl. With every passing year (and boy, they're passing) I see the ebb and flow of everything and fight it less. Less struggle equals more peace. More peace = contentment. Non-resistance to the unfurling of the journey. Something like that. Great post, Kelly.

Cathy H. said...

Such a wonderful post, Kelly! In the busy world we live in, it isn't easy to be calm and content. We feel like we must be busy doing something; anything and so we suffer. We are exhausted and tense. I've been through years of that and finally I've accepted who and what I am. I've learned to be content and therefore be at peace with myself and my life. I am truly blessed. I wish I had known that when I was young!

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