Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Radical Distinction
Radical Distinction. One of the challenges of photography is to somehow be distinctive in your art. Some accomplish this through a unique shooting angle, processing technique or in the way the image is printed or presented. Others strive for a subject that is not usually photographed and takes extraordinary effort to capture. Ansel Adams' genius with black and white capture, developing, and printing and Galen Rowell's mountaineering ability enabling him to be in wilderness areas most cannot experience are two examples that come to mind. I was reminded of this challenge last week while in a location that is a draw to photographers the world over: the spring cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC. Everyone from professionals with medium-format camera bodies on tripods to tourists with cell phone cameras were positioned around the Basin looking for 'their' shot. My question quickly became "how is my vision, capture and process going to lead to a unique outcome?"

I ask the same questions when I consider the ultimate purpose and impact of my life. How do I approach and enact my daily decisions so that I live with radical distinction? As in art, what determines a worthwhile or beautiful outcome, anyway? Isn't art, as in the success of one's life a subjective matter?

Turns out the Psalms describe two different approaches to this age-old question. One implores God to "show me your ways" to "teach me" and to "guide me". It promises to lead to a life of significance, defined not arbitrarily or subjectively, but with the God of the Universe's definition and with His power, enabling success. The other is to follow the ways of man to which "folly" is promised. When it's broken down like that it doesn't seem so hard after all, especially because my personal experience is just that simple. When I have listened to the culture or to my own selfish desires, folly (at best) has resulted. I guess the difficulty comes in that I must continually choose to trust that God has my best interests at heart and that He is a God that is powerful enough to be trusted. I need to put down the quick fix of my 'point-and-shoot' decisions and set my mind on my Lord. Then I can get down to the business of pursuing a life of beauty, significance and creativity, a life of 'Radical Distinction!'
~To God Be The Glory~

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