This is the third and final post in the series on the topic of intentions. Our deepest intentions come from our soul and tell us why we do what we do and what we value. This is why it’s so important to be aware of them, to watch where we put our feet, and then be open to unpredictability. That is what living a contemplative life means to me, paying attention to my intuition, and then taking a step in that direction.

How do we get off the treadmill of doing what we think should be done, and instead do what must be done, what our soul is telling us to do.

Read: The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

Intentions and Creativity

Danielle LaPorte says, “the biggest threat to your creativity is the fear that it’s already been said, done, created, so why bother?” This fear holds many of us back. Whether you’re a photographer, painter, writer or Mom, postal carrier, or CEO, YOU have something unique to offer. Do you believe it?

A woman in one of my photography workshops said with great conviction that her work was not unique. She took the same types of pictures as everyone else. And, she seemed okay with that. The thing is she didn’t yet see the subtle differences in some of her photographs that made them uniquely hers. But, I could.

If you’re lucky, you had parents or teachers who reinforced that there is no one else in the world like you and never will be again. If not, then it’s up to you to tell yourself. Because, if it’s true, and I believe it is, then what we do in the world, whether it’s taking pictures or something else, is like nothing else too. That’s not to say that every image you take will represent your unique offering. Sometimes we take pictures or perform tasks by rote, or we copy someone else’s way of doing it, or we do what others expect. Yet, the more we pay attention to what we personally are called to do or create, the more that uniqueness will emerge.

Read: Listen to your Inner Teacher

The image at the top of this post is an example. As you may be aware, my work has become increasingly abstract over the past several years. Last weekend, I was at a winery for a summer wine celebration. We were outdoors at first but then had to move inside to the wine barrel room because of an impending storm. I took several photographs of the servers pouring wine, the people mingling, and the musicians playing. When I returned home and looked at my pictures, the only one that I really liked was this one of the floor of the barrel room. When I posted it on Flickr, Sandra said that she knew it was mine before seeing my name. I may not yet know my exact intentions in being drawn to these types of photographs, but they’ll emerge in time.

“Effective artists avoid mistaking the urgent for the important. Decide on the “important” — and keep it at the fore.” ~ The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Artists

Danielle says that whatever you are called to do, even if someone else seems to be doing it – say it, do it, make it anyway. She suggests writing your story using the following question prompts. I’ve given my answers below and I hope you’ll come up with yours.

1. How do you know what you know?

I know what I know through my experiences of life, especially in relationships. I tend to be an observer and listener, although my voice gets stronger by the day. My friends and family will also tell you that I read – a lot. Reading helps me to explore ideas, make connections, and experience vicariously through others. I stay curious and am interested in and inspired by many different things.

2. What do you want to know more of?

I want to know more about what drives people to do what they do, about the psychology of relationships, and how to inspire compassion and empathy and appreciation. I want to know more about mysticism and contemplative living. I want to become more aware of my perceptions.

3. Why do you do what you do?

I want to live a contemplative life and to see reality as it is, not how I want it to be. In this way, I can respond most effectively. I want to live a life in full relationship with this world and to share my experiences with others. My work reflects that intention.

Mary Anne Radmacher says it even better. These words hang on my office wall and guide me every day.

“I want to inspire and be inspired.
I want to challenge the edges of my comfort.
I want to choose my roles rather than have them be assigned.”

4. How did you come to care?

What makes me angry, what makes me want to do something to change a situation is intolerance. When people or things are pigeonholed, labelled, or dismissed, I want to show another side. Contemplative photography is a practice that allows me to develop the skill of being present and aware, to see the subtleties of life with all their flaws and glory and complexity.

How would you answer these questions? Why do you do what you do?

The Purity of Intention – Part 1 of the series

Intentions in Photography – Part 2 of the series

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