The serene foolishness of staring - with amazement - at ordinary things.

At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to stand and gape at this or that thing - a sunset or an old shoe - in absolute and simple amazement. 
— Raymond Carver, "A Storyteller's Shoptalk"

I crave mindless staring now more than ever. I think it's a subconscious, maybe even spiritual, reaction to having to pay attention to all the trivial-yet-urgent matters that come with living perpetually "online." What worries me most in doling out brainwaves for these things is not that I'll become a zombie, necessarily, but that I'll lose the ability to stand and gape, as Carver says, at ordinary things with simple, serene, even foolish amazement. 

And it was recently I saw this habit of gaping manifested in some of my photography.  

After going through the hundreds of photos I've taken over the last decade, I started to see a recurring theme in subject matter and composition: open, negative spaces with either nothing at all or a single, mundane object front and center. Without quite knowing it, I used photography as anoutlet to practice the Zen-ish habit of appreciating the mundane scenes around me every day. 

Instead of reflecting a kind of vacant-staring, these photos show--at least to me--a fully-present, deeply-engaged stillness and awe at the foot of wonderfully regular things, which is pretty nice given the increasing extravagance and drama of the world at large. 

Oregon Trail, La Grande, OR

Oregon Trail, La Grande, OR

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Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

Red Mountain, WA

Red Mountain, WA

Lost Creek Wilderness, CO

Lost Creek Wilderness, CO

There’s always an urge among writers to turn fleeting observations and momentary glimpses into metaphors and “material” as quickly as possible...rushing to notice never works, nor does trying to notice. Attention requires cunning passivity...notice what you notice and let it go.”
— Verlyn Linkenborg, "Several Short Sentences About Writing"
Bedroom Wilderness, HOME

Bedroom Wilderness, HOME

Georgia Pass, CO

Georgia Pass, CO

[While] Peter was gazing at a white heron in a treetop, a very large [Bonefish] began to chew on Peter’s shrimp fly...while the guide and I, being real fishermen, began to go nuts. STRIKE! STRIKE! we hollered.

But that white heron...

Each [the white heron and Peter], I believe, was owned. True ownership as I see it, occurs the instant consciousness is usurped by one of these Peter-Meets-White-Heron appreciations. And while true ownership lasts, nothing but the usurping wonder exists.
— David James Duncan, "My Story As Told By Water"
Wolford Res., CO

Wolford Res., CO

South Park, CO

South Park, CO