I came across the following poem by 16th-century mystic St. John of the Cross, titled “A Rabbit Noticed My Condition”
I was sad one day and went for a walk;
I sat in a field
A rabbit noticed my condition and came near.
It often does not take more than that to help at times—
to just be close to creatures who
are so full of knowing
so full of love
that they don’t—
they just gaze with
their marvellous understanding.
Interesting to me, at least as it harmonised well with a chapter of a book I am reading during lockdown, which covers among other thing, the concept of “Mindfulness”.
It has a four step process, with Mindfulness, Awareness, Visualisation, and Awakening.
Now I feel perfectly qualified to lecture on this subject as true to the Internet Uncle Google tradition, the less I know about something and it’s intricate details the more I am able to pontificate on why my way is the correct view—There is a lot of tongue in cheek in that sentence, I hope it doesn’t get too lost 🙂 .
Mindfulness in the ancient tradition is not so much about the current psyhco-babble feel-good about your body, make contact with your feet on the ground, feel you breathing and all the other paraphernalia that seems to have been attached to it by those who have hijacked it for their own needs and reasons.
Simply defined (the best that a bear with a small brain can handle), is “Focusing on One thing at a Time” Works for me!
Awareness: Observes the world with both sensory and cognitive perceptions, (There are a lot of long words in there, Miss; we’re naught but humble pirates. What is it that you want? -Captain Balbosssa: Pirates of the Caribbean)
My takeaway was that Awareness reaches out to be inclusive and expansive. Not just internally but of the around.
Resonates with me a lot, as when I’m in the field, I’m not just seeing a bird, but rather there is an interaction as Jon Young describes as “building a rope.” My birding friends are happy to see the bird and log it in their notebook, and then go search for the next one.
As a photographer, I’m more likely to consider the lighting, angle, the background, the best point of view and what that bird is doing, and likely to do.
As St J. says, being able to interact with “A Creature so Full of Knowing…So Full of Understanding”
Now it turns out, I’m not a logger of species or an inveterate note keeper. For others, and I applaud them for their skills, it’s a matter of being able to recognise and log various attributes of the bird and build up an interesting database, both for their own use and to share online on ebird, or some other chosen platform.
So awareness is not all that complicated, but as we are in lockdown, its a skill that I find that I’m not able to put into practice. And like all skills, or craft it loses its edge from lack of use. That’s why artists, writers, sports people and so may other craftspeople are constantly honing the skills. Top tennis players don’t get there by watching another fool-tube video or Uncle googling the best technique.
It’s probably no surprise that I walk my hour’s ‘exercise’ early in the morning. I like the walk the pre-dawn.
And I’ve added an Awareness element to it of late.
I try and notice as many things as possible during the hour out, and then when I come home, over breakfast, I take a sheet of paper and brain-dump all I can remember observing. Not to compare lists or build up a database as such, but rather, just what did I see when I was out today.
After breakfast I toss the paper anyway. As I’ll be fresh tomorrow.
Mind I’m getting a bit tired of logging 17 disposed disposable masks. But I do put down things like the splash of early morning sun on the roofs across the watercourse. Also what work the council has done on the parklands. And of course the inevitable, the people that I pass by. And so it goes.
Not sure where it will lead, but at the moment it adds to the day out and is a beaut distraction from our lockdown blues.
I had need the other day to go out our local medical clinic. After that I strolled down to see the local Black Swan family, its only a few minutes from the clinic.
I had the previous few days been photographing Welcome Swallows as they begin to prepare nests in the drains under the roadway.
I had wondered if any Fairy Martins had returned, and on this day, I heard the cheery chirping calls, and was glad to see a dozen or so Fairy Martins working over the pond, and zipping through the roadway drains.
This is one of the few that old slow D810 could captured.