Existence: Beauty, Religion, and Life

I am driven.
I am determined.
I want to be the best I can be.
I want to learn as much as possible.
I want to accomplish as much as possible.
I want to be great.

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I often find myself counting the minutes, thinking, what could I be doing instead of this? What could I be accomplishing?

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Sometimes, I stop myself. I make myself wait. For a second. A minute. 30 minutes.

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Appreciate something around you that’s seemingly there for no reason.

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I’m a creature of efficiency. The decorations in my apartment almost completely serve some other purpose, with the exception of some gifts. In the past, I’ve received decorative things as gifts, and my first thought (in my younger, less mature and more years) was, “Well, that’s really pretty, but… what’s the point?”

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In photography, we often get caught up in the point. What’s the subject? Where does your eye go? Why does this photo exist? While these are all important questions, sometimes we need to stop the questions and go by instinct.

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In a bizarre paradox of simultaneously actively practicing this and not actively practicing this, when I’m editing photos I sometimes use it as a meditation of how to better myself. My mind is alternating between intense focus – figuring out which photos to use and which to cull, which I want a natural look for and which I want a more ethereal look, what emotions they evoke – and wandering. Wandering how I can make myself a better person. Less stressed, happier, fix the problems I have, prevent future problems, and generally be more awesome. Sometimes, in my intense focus, I’ll find myself asking, “What’s the subject? What was my thinking in this? Why does this photo exist?” This sometimes leads to the rabbit hole of, “Why does life exist?” and I begin the editing meditation on beauty, existence, happiness, and the general hippiedom of going with the flow.

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My drive and love of multi-tasking things in beauty and efficiency is part of what led me to food photography. You mean I can share recipes and inspire people and make something beautiful with an instant subject? Sign me up!

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I’m going through my backlog, and I ran into a shoot that I did one morning at sunrise over a year ago. It was a shoot in beauty. I didn’t have a particular goal. I shot things that drew me (including a heron). Over a year later, I’m going through and reminding myself… these photos exist because they’re beautiful. There’s no leading line. There’s a subject, but the whole photo is largely the subject. It breaks rules. And that’s okay, because it’s beautiful and, for me, draws emotion.

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A common misconception about atheists is that we have nothing to live for, no end goal. (Mis)logic follows, we must be depressed. But why? Why can’t existence itself be beautiful? Why do we have to give a shit about the meaning of life; why can’t the meaning of life just be: be happy?

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In your life, regardless of your religion or non-religion or anything in between, I encourage you to spend some time stopping and appreciating the fact that you exist. You are stuff that happened to arrange in a certain way on a certain planet at a certain point in time, and that’s pretty glorious.

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Just remember: life will continue on without you, regardless of the reason you’re not participating.

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