Tag Archives: Authenticity

My jaded lens


Sometimes, when I get the feeling that I am missing something important yet intangible, I remind myself that my perceptions are jaded. Then I seek the broad path of seeing beyond, behind, inside of, below, outside of… differently. Herein lies the rub. How can I provide myself with an unbiased view of something “hard-wired” to be exactly that–biased? How can I change the DNA-fueled impressions I’ve made, been fed, massaged over years of mass media influence, denied, embraced, honed?

For example, how can I decide whether my faith is based on what I was taught, or on what I have come to believe “on my own?” Or how can I decide if my ideas about parenting have come from years of careful observation, natural instincts, intelligence, research and a heart for children, OR if I am wrong about many of the issues I fight (internally and externally) for and against?

Is there such a thing as “being neutral?” Can I be “fair” without also being “unfair? And don’t I consistently remind my children that life is not fair? How about “righteousness?” What does this mean? My way or the highway? The way the local church professes? The way my kids catch any inconsistency I unwittingly demonstrate, and call it out, expecting a resolution?

The lens with which I view my world is not rose-colored, it is cracked, dirty, and grimy. It is clear, reflective and beautiful. It is polarized and jaded. It is all I have. Pressing my eye to the viewfinder, I seek the perfect shot through a perfect lens. Click. I’ve got it! I pull the image up on a large screen to analyze the capture. The background is nicely blurred, the foreground is complementary and leads my eye directly to the subject. That’s when I see it–the perfect combination that suddenly has me taking great deep breaths. I study the shapes, the contours, the colors, the shadows and the light. The simple beauty of the virtual shot I have taken is stunning, but will only be fully appreciated by me. As I begin to flip through my life-album of best images, I realize that my most enlightened, powerful days are compositions made up of confidence, hard-knocks humility and the softest, most beautiful light I can imagine–that of gratitude.

photograph property of The Jaded Lens Photography

What We Keep

I like the practical. Knickknacks are not my thing. I suppose, if I am to be perfectly honest with myself, I have some, and they are precious to me. My knickknacks are not part of a collection in which similar items are gathered together. They are more of a gathering of items that feed my soul in some way. To give you an idea, there are the giraffe bookends that belonged to my mother, a life-like dragonfly which reminds me of my sister, a stately yet delicate blue crystal candy jar, a thick green bowl that reminds me of fake fruit and my childhood, and this heart-shaped bowl (pictured, and a gift from my sister) that contains two sock darners that belonged to my mother’s mother, a round rock just because I think it’s cool, and a camellia seed from my mother’s tree that I meant to plant but didn’t.

Who’s to say what’s important to us? What we should keep? What we should toss? What we should display, or hang, or leave lying around? Who makes these decisions for you? Is it whether or not the things you display are decoratively fashionable? Is it whether or not you feel you have to keep them because somebody important (and touchy) gave it to you and expects to see it when they visit? Or is it (and I hope it is) because you like what you display and you don’t care what anyone thinks?

Which leads me to my final thought about what we keep and what we toss, knick-knacks aside. Sometimes we keep ideas around because somebody else (a parental figure, an influential adult from our childhood, a religious figure) told us the thought was important, that we should keep it close, nurture it, take action on it. Many times, these ideas, especially if we have not followed through with them, are sources of great guilt and regret. Perhaps we have held onto a belief that we simply must attend church every week, or that we should plant a garden, write a novel, cut our hair short, or write handwritten thank-you notes. Not one of these things is bad…but left to fester inside of a person who does not define their spirituality by how often or even whether or not they attend church; has no green thumb whatsoever; does not have any desire to sit and write for hours on end; enjoys long hair; or does not think that a thank-you note is invalid if it is spoken or e-mailed, any one of these things can waste a tremendous amount of energy and goodwill (towards ourselves).

If you can think of at least one thing that you think you should do because somebody else thinks you should do it (phew…that’s a mouthful!), then I challenge you to let it go. Have a ceremony where you break plates in the street, die your teeth chartreuse, get a mohawk, or some other thing that makes the moment really memorable. And then, tomorrow, do the same thing. The following day, and the next and the next and the next…do the same kind of “un-shoulding” until you can stare at yourself in the mirror and realize that you are you, not someone else’s version of you. Keep what you want. Toss what no longer serves you. Then take a deep breath and catch the fresh scent of authenticity.