Throughout my life, there have been extended periods of solitude and extended periods of constant companionship, both which don’t sit with me too well on their own. Isolation can become torturous over extended periods of time, or conversely, sweet relief from the business and sometimes suffocating tendencies of day to day life. In the same stroke, company can be both comforting and joyous when spending time with the people you love or smothering and unbearable if you never manage to get a second to yourself. Both states, in their extremes can be both heaven and hell.
Maintaining a balance of both extremities has been something I have not yet been able to achieve as I tend to go through waves of isolation, remedied with waves of constant companionship until I need some time to myself again. The natural world has always provided the solution to my constant see-sawing of social exhaustion and loneliness and has always provided a safe haven of stillness and friends that live their lives passively around me without the expectation of interaction.
Wildlife photography has become an important factor in maintaining this balance in my life, as it allows me to enter a meditative state of pure concentration on the subject at hand, watching the movements and behaviours of my subject, waiting to get a shot that captures the essence of the moment. From the second I heard a whipbird in the backyard of the new location I would be stationed for three months at the end of last year, I knew I needed a camera to be able to identify all the creatures that shared the property with me. As the obsession developed, I researched cameras and purchased one the very next weekend ready to discover the world around me.
As soon as this magical device touched my hands, I knew I had stumbled across a window into another world, and my behaviours changed as a result of it. I couldn’t wait to spend every evening in the garden sitting still and watching the different birds interact and show their different personalities. I got to know each species as if they were long lost friends, studying their interactions, feeding and vigilant behaviours. My photos became less about identification and more about capturing their personalities, colours and individual styles. What drew me in was the capability to learn, meditate and see self growth at the same time as showing people the world around them through my images. Sometimes rare birds would come and I would be able to savour the moment before sharing the moment with others. Sometimes I would watch water skinks, knowing that if I became as still as a rock, they would bask with me in the sunshine without slithering away.
Being back in a city again, away from the peacefulness of the country, I deeply miss the birds, the lizards and my meditation time behind the lens every night, however now I have human friends, memories and laughs to have. Nature has provided me the only form of meditation I know whilst allowing me to experience the profound impact of stillness and fading back into an environment. I know now that during times of both social exhaustion and loneliness, I can turn to the natural world for both stillness and companionship and know that I will feel rejuvenated, relaxed and humbled after sheer minutes. I don’t know any other medicine or remedy otherwise that harbours such immediate results as the power of the natural world around us.