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Up or Down...or Pausing and Seeing

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

A staircase in the Willamette National Forest creates both a practical means of getting up and down a hill, and a beautiful sculpture of light and shadow. Many years and many feet have collaborated, along with the sun, in making this artwork. How many hikers have paused to notice and appreciate these unique shapes, and how many have been mostly bent on moving along, up or down? Would I have seen it if I wasn't thinking more about finding interesting photos rather than about getting back to our car?

It's interesting how having a camera in my hand--even my iPhone--turns my awareness toward light and shape, shadow and color, rather than just "getting there." In a way this is a virtue, since I'm seeing the world in a deeper and more enjoyable way. Yet even as I write about this virtue of seeing, I'm realizing that is my camera itself can also be a form of distraction. Part of me is seeing more clearly through the lens, and part of me is trying to "get the photo," rather than simply pausing and connecting with the moment of light, shape, and shadow.

Perhaps this is the nature of life--we can experience every moment in many ways depending on our habits and choices of perception. Maybe they all blend...I don't want to get too far behind my hiking companions, I want to "get the photo" to celebrate this moment of beauty, and I aspire to have a quiet mind so that I can enjoy the whole of the hike, all at the same time.

What is your experience of "hiking through life," so to speak? Getting somewhere? Enjoying the scenery or the light? Pausing to connect with the whole? And, are these kinds of questions interesting to you, like an inner game or puzzle? Or do they make things too complicated?

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I agree with the idea that we're looking through the camera lens of our eyes. I wish more people looked within to see who's doing the looking!


Hi Paul. I love your writings on this website. I've been contemplating your thoughts on looking at life through a camera vs experiencing life in the moment. It occurred to me that we are constantly looking at life in motion through the camera lens of our eyes and alternating looking within ourselves to see who it is that is doing the looking. Have a great day...Les

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