How Is It We Are Here?

Ice Mountain – first digital image

A landscape photographer for over 30 years, I’ve had the great good fortune to awaken many times – in the midst of wilderness – to a startling reorganization of the sense of “personal” experience. It has influenced my work, life, and beliefs – profoundly and irrevocably.

It seems to be the result of an entrainment with Nature and its absence of human  concept or impulse to control. “I” feels markedly different after years photographing alone in wilderness.

Absorbed in Nature’s deeply silent, yet potent stillness, my personal library of arbitrary thoughts and internal story telling – (which I believed true, but were not necessarily real or appropriate) – slowly began to dissolve. The result was a tangible sense of my “I” being overshadowed by the still spirit of Nature looking through the viewfinder – creating self-portraits!

Those moments and resulting images hold deep and far-reaching significance for me.

Now, many change filled years later, including a motorbike incident that has severely restricted this body’s ability to experience Wilderness as it did before, I find myself asking “What’s it all about”?  Was it Wilderness that was the most important part of my life, or is it the state of awareness discovered while there?

In the relentless and unprecedented maelstrom of change through which our lives are passing, our cherished moments and memories comprising even our higher beliefs, are being stretched, tested and sometimes blown away.

It seems the challenge of these times is to dig deep into our treasure chest of experience and spotlight those outstanding moments which can guide us in our decisions of consequence. Taking a step backward for an overview of what is happening to us, past and present, opens a deeper perspective voicing recognition of our miraculous existence when we ask: “How is it we are here”?

For me, that voice appeared as Jack London’s “Call of the Wild”. I heard it early one evening in Misty Fjords National Park, Alaska listening to wolves singing to each other across the lake of a volcanic caldera. With the next human being a hundred miles away, their haunting melodies developed a depth and personality I had never experienced in the natural world before. All at once, those melodies – haunting and captivating as they were – transformed even more, into actual conversations with distinct personality that completely shattered any of my concepts about the singularity and superiority of human awareness and life.

In that instant, all barriers of separation between my self and that of another creature, fell completely apart as I experienced the actual truth that we are not alone here.

Tears and rapture – the gift of that dark, early evening moment – remain the most compelling memory of the extent, breadth and depth of consciousness I witnessed in another species. It remains the greatest motivating force behind the images “I” create to share the depth of life’s layers with others.

This life is so vast and varied, I’d like to know, how does photography help you connect the brimming ocean of life within and around you to help you understand how it is that we are here?

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