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When Words Are Not Enough

written by: CLARKE SCOTT 

I came across this photograph I took years back during the week. A flood of memories rushed over me.

Circa 2009 and I’m sitting in a tiny village restaurant having lunch. I’m on a road trip from Dharamsala to Manali with new and old friends. I was in India researching my never completed Ph.D.

The Ph.D. was not going well but I’d picked up a new camera while there (Canon 60d/28 f1.8) and was falling in love with making art again.

I still remember the feeling of sitting there quietly looking out over the vast and ancient landscape and sensing how small I am.

How many people have lived and loved here? How many people have hoped and dreamed and had to deal with disappointment, here?

Looking out I could grasp just how small one life is.

Just a blip in time. And I thought to myself, don’t waste it.

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Contemplative Life Project.

What I’ve been thinking

India is a fascinating place as long as you do not look down.

Over the years, I’ve read many books from masters that lived there thousands of years ago, and often wondered, what was it like then? Probably, or at least, possibly, not all that different than it is today.

The mountains and plains. The sky and the smell. It is a place of contradictions. And the land feels old too. But old in a pure way.

There is a vastness about India I never feel here in Australia.

Actually, that is not entirely true—I was in Tasmania about 5 years ago and parts of Tasmania can feel similar.

(side note: I am thinking about doing a solo road trip through Tasmania and documenting it for a creative project. More on that below. I will share it with you if I end up going.)

Many people feel connected to something larger than themselves when in nature. For some it is the mountains. For others the ocean.

When I look at this photo and recall my feelings as I sat there, I recall I felt connected to something larger than myself via a sense of time and my place in history.

Clarke Scott Portrait Lifestlye Photographer india 2010 2 street photography

Not in the sense of being remembered. Rather, I am just one of many that builds the history of a place and a people.

When I look at my life and how it has unfolded, I’m struck by the fact that it has not been linear—not even remotely.

In fact, what I am coming to realise is just how much time I have wasted wondering what I should do with it. I’ve probably spent more time thinking about what to do than doing.

This is not a good thing, obviously. Still, it is a question I am yet to fully solve. So I must keep asking.

Ask; reflect. Ask; reflect.

What I’ve been reading

This week has been a week of reflection. I need more of them. We all need more of them.

But the one thing I could not keep out of my mind was the current format of this newsletter is not working. I often feel I am posting to no one despite there being more than 12,000 of you.

Then I read an article that mentioned Rick Rubins’ idea of the selfish artist.

That is to say, for those that create, they must be emotionally connected with what they create, if what they create is going to move others.

I’m not emotionally invested enough to continue with the current format.

Perhaps this is the reason it is not working? Perhaps this is the reason it is not moving others to the degree I hoped.

What I’ve come to understand more clearly this week is that I need to shift the focus of the content (not the theme) to include my passion for photography.

I am seriously thinking about bringing those skills to bare on The Contemplative Life Project.

This will mean the content will change. No more workshops about meditation.

I understand if you will unsubscribe as a result. I get it. But this is something I need to do for myself. I need to be selfish in the Ruben sense.

I do not know how that will work; or even if it will work.

But I do know this, I must try.

What I’ve created (or going to create)

Clarke Scott Portrait Lifestlye Photographer india 2010 4 street photography

I am thinking of doing a solo road trip to visit sacred places and old Churches around Tasmania, and recording the trip as I go.

I could see myself creating content about this trip. Part travel video; part artistic journal; BTS videos. Sharing the experience and creating art.

I would post a finished video about the Youtube—with exclusive content posted along the way here.

This is just one idea. There are many.

For example, perhaps a video/doc series about Thomas Merton and his involvement with Buddhism???

And the educator part of me is still interested in sharing knowledge so I am also likely to do workshops but only the artistic journey rather than a contemplative one.

Further Reading