being on a bench learning to be astonished

The butterfly metaphor I had going on in yesterday’s post brought to mind this image. One of the first, if not the first photograph I ever posted to the world wide web, I consider the simple act of sharing this image online to be one of the most transformative events of my life.

It must have been a little over ten years ago that I discovered a children’s photography forum online. I visited but never posted for a long while, and then eventually began to imagine the possibility of sharing one of my images there. This thought in itself was revolutionary, because at that point in my life I firmly believed I had to do something perfect if I was to put it out in the world. And since perfection always eluded me, that meant everything I created stayed well hidden.

One day I boldly made up my mind to do it--I would put a photograph of mine up for viewing. I can remember that day with a vividness that usually escapes my poor memory only because I was so petrified. I needed a team of at least three people to help me technically figure out how to scan the photograph and upload it onto the site as I was so computer illiterate, and once the image was in place my hands literally trembled as I typed the words to accompany it. Not sufficient to simply post the image with the type film shot and camera settings, I instead included a paragraph of what was happening in the moment I shot the image, and how it made me feel. I titled the post “Butterfly Watch”, as that is what had caught my daughter’s eye in the moment the shot was taken, and sent it off into the world. Even before blogging had become a word, much less a phenomenon, I had essentially made my very first blog entry.

I was so completely shaken upon hitting the post button that all I could think to do was get as far away from the computer that was my accomplice as possible, and stay gone. It was the end of the day when I finally found the courage to visit the site again and view the feedback. Fortunate for my very fragile sense of self, the other photographers were kind.

My reason for dredging up this very poor scan of an old photograph isn’t really to remember what was as much as it is to acknowledge what followed as a result. I will forever be grateful for that photography forum, and the gigantic step I took the day I posted this image, because it was for me the first very shaky page written in a painfully long, and still evolving chapter on self-acceptance. I’m grateful for finally learning that we’re not here to reach perfection, but to reach authenticity. No, even that is expecting too much, we’re here to try always simply to stay on the path of authenticity…..to tell the story of who we are with honesty and openness.

I am happy that I now feel free to not only share my imperfect images, but to wholeheartedly celebrate their creation. And since celebrations are always meant to be shared with others, that is what I hope to continue to do here.

Make stuff. Put it out there.



~Cynthia





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