Sometimes I really enjoy taking a walk outside with no aim, no plan, no sense of direction. It’s great just to wander around, take in the beauty of the world and feel more connected to the earth. Other times I like to have a focus while I walk and that’s when I take a camera with me. I find that taking a photo walk can be a great aid to meditation.
Obviously when you’re on a photo walk you can just take pictures of the beautiful things you see and sometimes you feel that you’re drawn more deeply into an appreciation of what you’re filming, that the act of looking intently and deciding how to frame the picture helps you to see the things around you more clearly and relate to them more fully. There’s something very helpful in shifting between looking at something in great detail, close up, and then getting a sense of the much wider picture by zooming out and looking at the whole landscape.
Words have always been very important to me and I often find that one word (or a short phrase) will stick in my mind for some time: I might dream about the word or reflect on it while I am out and about. Recently I have started taking photo walks on the look-out for letters of the alphabet to turn into photo collages. I have been amazed at the serendipitous way I often find all the letters I need when I am out walking and thinking about a particular word.
This week I was thinking about the idea of finding a focus word for the year. There were several which appealed to me, but as I walked I realised that it was the word ‘connected’ which best summed up what I hope for in 2014. The word has been important to me for a long time as I have sought to have a stronger connection with the divine, with the deepest and truest parts of myself and with my close friends and family. But I realise that now it really matters to me to find a way to be connected with a wider community of like-minded individuals which is why I’ve finally taken the plunge to start a blog. On Tuesday I had a spare 40 minutes before collecting my son from school and took my camera with me for a quick walk in the woods. As I thought about whether or not the word ‘connected’ was the right one for me, I kept an eye out for letters around me and found all the ones I needed to form the word. They’re not great photos, but finding them has given me a greater connection to the word ‘connected’.
I hope you’ll give this a try. You don’t need to have access to any countryside: this works beautifully in an urban or industrial landscape too. And if you find that it’s helpful to focus more deeply on words, you might enjoy some of my future posts on creating Altered Books.