Yesterday, I chatted with a lovely artist who told me he sometimes grapples with questions like: What's the point? Why make photographs? What's it FOR? And...is photography a selfish pursuit? It made me think about meditation. You know, you basically sit on a cushion in silence. What's the point? Is it selfish?
In my meditation tradition, there's a little chant at the end of each sit, "May the merits of this practice benefit all beings and bring peace." I meditate alone in my bedroom - it's a little highfalutin to think I'm benefiting "all beings" with my practice.
And yet, I now think there's a whole lot of truth in it. Sitting and breathing is nourishing. Photography is nourishing. If I take time away from my obligations and crazy inbox - if I look at the light, open my heart, and make images I love - if I add more meaning and beauty to my life with my art - I'm able to listen better, support better, understand better...and smile more.
Fill yourself up and you have more to give. You can be a better human if you're inspired, delighted, and whole. That matters. I like to think that art is a fertile training ground for life. It teaches us to lean in to emotion, to get comfortable with vulnerability, to be present, imperfect, exuberant, tenderhearted, and brave. I think the world needs more of that, don't you?