Artists have ways of transforming and framing seemingly mundane aspects of life in just the right way to make them significant. We, the spectators, derive meaning from art by filtering it through our own personal experiences. It's all subjective; sometimes we love it, sometimes we hate it, but in the end, it's neither good nor bad — just like our lives.
I understand that life may feel like it absolutely sucks at times. On other occasions, it feels wonderful. I'm in no way implying that our experiences are not real. What I am saying is that we have a choice in how we process our experiences and that we have the ability to distance our real selves (our internal observers or our souls) from our judgmental selves (our brains).
I'm an avid photographer, and my relationship with my camera is what brought me to the realization that every human has within her the ability to harness the objective observer within. I have complete control over how I frame photos, and depending on exactly where I direct the lens, the photo can evoke different emotions, but I'm ultimately the one who places my own interpretive spin on the picture.
One day, I passed by a broken mirrored window and randomly photographed my reflection in it. When I downloaded the picture, I studied the photo for a good long while, struck by the significance of what I saw.
There I was, a fragmented figure in a mirror with my camera held like a shadow in front of my face. Behind me were people walking by, going about their lives with their own thoughts, concerns, problems, joys and pains. In that moment, it dawned on me how interpretive life really is. The camera shutter simply clicked and captured all of it in the moment, not caring about who or what was in the picture. The camera is the most unbiased spectator in all of existence; it's the person behind the lens (me) who attaches meaning to the image.
Wanting to be more like my camera, I went for a walk that afternoon, observing life as objectively as I could. Logically speaking, this is impossible because I'm layered thick with filters. I have experiences that I attach with meaning, emotions and judgments.
Yet I persevered, wandering up and down the streets of my neighborhood, watching people walk their dogs, talk on their cellphones, gossip with their neighbors on their stoops, and so on. I consciously decided not to do what I normally do, which is to create narratives about each person or situation I see. I was just a girl, strolling down the streets of Lakeview among other people who were involved in certain activities.
As I forced myself to remain neutral, I thought of circumstances in the world which people label as good or bad. I began to form a concept that I believe is wholeheartedly true for every single person on this planet: People all do the best they can do with the information available to them.
I'm a true believer that at the core of all of us exists goodness. Perhaps this core belief is what makes me an optimist at heart. Experiences can bring about positive change within this world. Suffering and pain have brought light and compassion into human development. If we examine the treatment of each other from centuries ago compared to now, it is obvious that we have learned from our actions and continue moving forward in the right direction.
To view life events as neither good nor bad, I released the need to judge other people. I still have opinions and will work toward attaining a peaceful planet, but I cannot condemn those I do not fully understand. How can I? We are all living according to the moral compass in our heads and hearts, and I all I can do is stay true to my own. We are all artists, capable of creating a more loving world for each other. If we can let go of the judgments and harsh criticisms, we can see that life is clearly perfect in its own way.