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Reprieve

December 1, 2010
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I am an anxious person.  Left to its own devices, my brain whirs constantly in the background, worrying, list-making, second-guessing.  I try, therefore, not to leave my brain to its own devices too much, but I find that the usual distractions (television and the like) don’t do much to calm my native anxiety.  Running helps, but running also hurts (ankles, knees, feet, you name it).

So far, I’ve found exactly two painless occupations that require my full presence in the moment and radio silence from my brain: playing the piano and photographing nature.  Both are multi-sensory activities that require me to focus, but their value to me goes beyond that.  Reading music, deciding on exposure, and the like quite obviously involve a lot of thought, but when my brain starts to take over, things go south – fingers slip, images are flat, I am frustrated.  The more I let go, the more I stop worrying about my mistakes and let my brain retreat, the more success I have.  And the calmer I feel.

Unfortunately, during busy, stressful times, music and photography are the first things to drop off my “important things” radar, and my anxiety climbs.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve slowly been finding my way back to my piano and my camera.  I recently sat at my piano for the first time in months and months, and I spent the weekend before Thanksgiving in Yosemite with my dad, taking these pictures.

And quiet begins to return.

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