I spend a good portion of every day photographing new one-of-a-kind kintsugi pieces for my online store, editing those images, and uploading them to create new listings in order to post them for sale.
It’s rather tedious work, but it’s also a bit risky. As I take close up photos of these items under bright lights, I am able to see them in much better detail than I can even with the magnification lenses I use as I make them.
This means that I see things that I didn’t notice before.
Sometimes, this added detail makes them shine and sparkle with greater richness and depth than I had previously noticed, and I get so excited about the work I am doing and about sharing this work with others.
Other times, I discover imperfections that seem glaringly obvious when magnified but that were invisible at normal magnification. When that happens, I am heartsick that my skill still isn’t where I want it to be with this work. I question whether I should put those pieces out there at all.
Needless to say, it can make the process a bit of a roller coaster ride of highs and lows depending on what I see through my magnified view.
Either way, my new focus changes the way I see (and respond to) each and every piece. The pieces themselves haven’t changed at all, but my perception of them has.
As we approach tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday (here in the US), I’ve been thinking about how this process of seeing my art work differently when I am magnifying it through photography corresponds to the way I see the world differently when I’m focusing on gratitude.
When I’m focused on finding things to be grateful for, I am magnifying life’s good stuff through my lens of looking at the world.
That’s not my default, though. My natural tendency is to focus on the problems, which makes them loom larger in my view (much like the imperfections that I sometimes find in my work).
Even though my intention at those times is on solving the problems or fixing the issues, my intense focus on those broken places in my life causes them to look much larger than they really are.
On the other hand, when I focus on finding things for which I am grateful, all of those often-overlooked (and taken for granted) riches that I am surrounded with daily are magnified.
From my favorite warm socks … to the ability to taste the many flavors of food … to the fact that colors exist … to the soothing warmth of a cup of hot tea … to the ability to laugh until my belly aches—how often I take these things for granted except when I’m actively turning my lens of gratitude upon them.
I have little control over what I see through my camera lens when I’m taking photographs of my art work. The camera simply magnifies what is there, for good or for ill.
In daily life, I do have control over what I choose to focus on, and what I choose to focus on grows larger in my perspective of my life. What I choose to focus on—whether the blessings or the problems—changes my response to my world.
Focus is a very powerful tool, and I’m learning how important it is to use it well and with intention.
This use of focus is an important part of kintsugi living.
There will always be broken places in our lives. Sometimes they are minor; other times they loom larger than life. We don’t get a choice in that.
What we can choose is what we focus on during those times. We can magnify every detail of those broken places until that’s all we see, or we can choose to magnify the good things that still exist in spite of the brokenness.
We can choose to see only brokenness (current or past) or we can choose to focus on (and strengthen) the healing that is slowly but surely unfolding and seek out the gold to be found in those scars.
Don’t misunderstand me! Just because we are able to find gifts of kintsugi gold growing out of our healing and are grateful for those gifts doesn’t mean we need to grateful for brokenness that preceded it. Ever!
Focusing on gratitude also doesn’t mean that we have to pretend that any broken places that remain don’t exist. It’s also not about forcing ourselves to feel grateful just because we think we “should.”
Focusing on gratitude during life’s hard times just means that we take the effort to focus the lens of our attention on the good things that still remain even in midst of the chaos and pain. It means magnifying the things that we might otherwise overlook in our pain or grief.
I treasure the Thanksgiving holiday each year as a reminder to refocus on the many, many good things in my life. My hope is that I can carry this refocused lens throughout the rest of year so I don’t lose sight of these treasures.
Will you join me?
How do you refocus your own lens from seeing only problems to seeing goodness and wonder that still exist even in life’s difficult places?
I wish you all a happy and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, no matter how you do (or don’t) celebrate the day.
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