Thursday, March 15, 2007

NPR - Reality of Being

I saw an article on this marker in the Seattle PI-Time Parade Magazine last year, so I saved it for the day day when I was in the area and I could find a parking spot, which is extremely difficult on weekdays. I wanted take a photograph of it for both being a geographer and seeing it as a sign of the reality of being. And after reading the second reason, you go, "What?", or "Huh?" Well there's an explanation.

If you don't remember from my other posts, I'm a student of Taoism and enjoy using this practice in my wandering in life and photography. And because it relates to another concept, Dynamic Equilibrium, which is the concept where everything is in a constant state of change and tries to maintain an existing equilibrium or move to a new equilibrium. It's was developed in the sciences and translated to system and information theories, and then to psychology and life.

And it's in the last place I like to dwell with the idea. For you see many religions, beliefs, faiths, or whatever practice subscribes to the concept of "being centered," meaning teaching the ways to find your center and staying centered. Well, while it's great in theory, it's not so great in reality, because our lives are constantly changing from our own and especially outside forces, and no really knows where "the" center really is. It's not fixed but dynamic as you progress through life.

And that's what Taoism teaches me, not striving for some center where I feel safe and secure, but striving for acceptance of my own existence as it exists right now. It's the adage about the wanderer when asked where his home is and he answers, "Wherever I hang my hat." You see, it's not about a physical home, although most people like having a physical residence to call home, it's about your state of being in reality. And so here's the test.

If you go to this place, located in Seattle South Lake Union and Cascade neighborhoods (sorry that's all the clues you get, the rest you have to search and find, but I'll tell you it's not hard if you look down on the sidewalk), and stand there, can you imagine all that is going on immediately around you, then expand it to Seattle, and then beyond that? What is changing in and with you that is from you and from the world at that moment?

Obviously we can't imagine or even begin to comprehend the totality of everything at any moment, which is why we live in worlds of bounded rationality where we limit what we see, process and remember. And that's where it's important to remember it's always changing and the best we can do is adapt as we go. There really isn't a center to our being, we are the center of our being in a dynamic world, and the key is simply find acceptance of ourselves in the world and our reality.


  1. And this relates to photography how? I'm kidding. I wonder if it is possible to accept one's off-centeredness, if it seems like a permanent disposition, and work from there. Great things have come from people who used personal disadvantage (i.e., mental illness) to their advantage. As for perpetual change, it is something to behold. Given that it's impossible to deny, the one constant in all things, it's a shame so many people spend so much energy resisting it.

  2. Nice observation. It's an (N)ot (P)hotographically (R)elated posts (see first NPR post), it's about life, and kinda' of a cynical view of being centered, which is realistically impossible. But it's also photographically related since we're all photographers and always off-center with ourselves and our photography. How many times have you viewed images to find your perspective changed? But do we remember this or figure our photography is constant as is our perspective? The key is simply going with the flow each time and see where it goes, as a person and a photographer.