“I am going to outlive myself. Eat, sleep, sleep, eat. Exist slowly, softly, like these trees, like a puddle of water, like the red bench in the streetcar.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea
What does it mean to live an ‘authentic life’? If the world has no meaning, then all we can do is exist; live. This should not really surprise us, yet it is a fundamental source of anxiety in human beings. Our developed brain and its wild imagination is both a blessing and a curse. We live, and then we die. With a whole lot of thinking time in between.
So it is that an outlet of my existential angst is to photograph things that might go unnoticed, or things that are ‘challenging’. These are the found objects of a mindful wander through the world. Sometimes these are quite macabre, such as road kill. But what is ‘macabre’ anyway? There’s a beauty in the decay of a carcass, as it breaks down and its molecules return to the Earth to continue their aeons-long cycle. The black space of the mind intrudes, but this is not a fearful thing. This is life, and death, and the world turning.
At other times, it is the mundane, or even the moderately beautiful things. I say ‘moderately’ because they have little hope in competing for attention against the truly beautiful. They just exist, like us. Forming part of our sphere of attention, these objects are part of this same cycle, beautiful in their own, small way.
At other times still, it is the very contrast between the majestic and the pedestrian that is what makes mindful observation the very spice of life. If we’re to live on this planet for all these years, and if we are to realise how very unlikely it was that we would be conscious of the world through our own eyes at this point in history, we might smile more often at the absurd nature of it all. Truly much is going on all around you. All the time. Enjoy it, interact with it. Allow your thoughts to roam and your actions to follow.
The journey is long, time consuming, and may very well have no point at all other than to procreate. But you are conscious, you can think, you can do. Play with it. Enjoy it, because you can. Take the road less travelled, and keep your eyes, ears and mind open.
[Images taken from “The Terror of Existence”, an exhibition I held as part of the 2012 FotoFreo Open Exhibitions Program, in Perth, Australia.]