This is one of those posts that ties together a few ideas that came across my radar last week. Firstly, I’ve been doing a lot of writing and I’m struck by how the process feels like a constant revision. I receive new insights and add them. Unnecessary parts get taken out. Each step is necessary to get to the next one.
In a conversation on writing memoir, writer Andre Dubus III (Townie) reminded me that the word “revise” means “to see again.” And, of course this is what revising is; seeing the writing in new ways every time.
Seeing – with beginners mind.
In this post from The Painter’s Keys, a veteran painter writes that he wishes he could become a beginner again. Sara replied that it is always possible to go back to “beginner’s mind.” She suggests that he pay attention, remember the dreams he had when he started, explore new areas without obligation, and imagine other possibilities.
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few. ~ Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Another way to reclaim beginner’s mind is to try something brand new, something you’ve never done before. You’ll experience the feeling of being a beginner and all that entails – falling and failing.
For example, kast year I decided I wanted to learn to kayak. I thought it would be easy, but that was not my experience. It seems that I’m lacking in certain essential skills, as well as some upper body strength – both rectifiable with practice and persistence. It’s been humbling as I flip the kayak multiple times or fight the current and the current wins. Yet, I’m determined to learn.
Life itself is a constant revision; best to approach it with beginners mind.
Life is an exploration, for each day is a new landscape, a new state of mind, a new body, with different creaks and strengths. The day-to-day shifts are minuscule, until you step off a cliff or a lightning bolt strikes you or someone you love. Then you are transported immediately to another land, where everything looks different, because it is, because you are. ~ Marialena Carr, Writing as Exploration
What if we treated each new day like this, as a blank canvas, and with beginners mind? Our days would be scary and vulnerable and so much fun. We’d feel the uncertainty, not knowing what will happen, but the possibilities would be exciting to imagine.
We can also approach our photography with beginner’s mind, trying new subjects or techniques without worrying about the final result. Playing, experimenting, testing, and perhaps coming up with something amazing. Or, go for a wonder wander, with no preconceived idea about what you will photograph. Be open to what comes to your attention and photograph that.
Read: Beginner’s Mind – from Zen Habits
Read: Why we Should Embrace Beginner’s Mind in Photography by Eric Kim