The Inner Sea a 30/30 project

The Inner Sea is a photo assignment that's a little different than most. Half of it doesn't even require a camera, for starters. And the other half is a long-term investment in developing intuition. Thirty minutes of watching and listening with no distractions - and no camera - followed by 30 minutes of letting nature bring her gifts to you - that's the 30/30 exercise. It's meant to be done often. It's purpose is to allow entry into a fully receptive state of mind before picking up a camera.

"My God, it's full of stars!" Dave exclaimed.

If you've not done one before, and wondering why bother, I offer today's experience as a typical example. It was a sunny 28 degree day, perfect for visiting the Boise greenbelt. I parked the car, left the camera behind, walked a bit, and found a path-side deck overlooking a bend in the river. Perfect. I sat down to watch and listen.

It took a few minutes to slow the mental chatter down enough to pay attention. The Demon of Work was the loudest voice with its 'get back to your desk, you're wasting time' monologue. A longer list of to-do's kept popping up like whack-a-moles. Slowly though, they faded into the background to be replaced by natural sounds - birds, the river, people walking by. Time slowed, as it should. By the 10 minute mark I was pretty relaxed and in the groove. More and more things started attracting my attention, and sure enough I started noticing things I would have sworn weren't there when I first sat down.

Nature leaves an impression.

At 15 minutes, literally right in front of me, a lock appeared as if out of thin air. It was snapped shut over a strand of wire railing, but not actually locking anything at all. Curious. It occurred to me that my inner sea had suddenly come online. I laughed right out loud at the clear message. Not all locks need to be unshackled to be free.

Lock / Not Lock

My eyes fell on scrawled writing next to me on the bench. At last, Monique's forever lover is eroding from memory. Desperate scratches on the railing cry for recognition. Monique, perhaps? Reflections in the water below obscure a murky presence. I sense dread, and let it pass.

Three Stories, Same Ending

Overhead, a great blue heron plies the thin skin separating heaven from earth. I hear feathers parting, wings heaving, a sine wave lingering behind.

At 20 minutes, a squirrel races up a cottonwood, along a branch to the end of a twig, where it proceeds to bite off wax buds. Lunch. Nearby, a red breasted flicker hammers for insects in an old maple, punctuating the quiet. A second squirrel scampers up the cottonwood to the same twig, chattering to beat hell, threatening the other to move on or else. A hundred wax-budded cottonwoods within my vision, and we have one with world-class nibbles? So selfishness isn't just a human trait, then. Good to know. At 25 minutes something amazing happens. Both squirrels splay out on separate limbs. And go to sleep.

Nineteen and Counting

At 30 minutes, it's time to get up and retrieve my camera. But I don't want to. I feel weightless and outside of time, enshrouded by peace wrapped in melancholy. Except that's not quite right - perhaps it's longing instead, a pervasive field that defies definition. I did not expect this, but the inner sea is full of secrets, is it not?

Wave Goodbye

I walk back to the car, retrieve my camera, and retrace my steps. I see. I feel. The sun warms my face and the frigid air exacts her small fee. I release the shutter a dozen times.

© 2017 Don Johnson

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don johnson
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