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No Mud, No Lotus (6/52)

(Thich Naht Hanh)


I haven't stopped taking my portraits, but as you can see, I had to stop writing about them for awhile. Every time I tried, my critical voice would begin screaming at me, telling me I had nothing worth saying, and anything I did say would be a poor rehashing of other people's voices. It said I was trite, boring and stupid. And that if I ever bothered to tell you the things it said, or how it made me feel, then I would be an attention-seeking, self-centered child. It was exhausting trying to go up against that critical voice. Trying choked my own voice to the point where I just couldn't write. It was already pretty vocal about taking portraits of myself and posting them online. Adding writing to that was too much.


But things are different now. My relationship with that voice has been changing. I'm encountering my inner critic so often in this project that I'm simply tired of letting that voice control me. I'm bored with giving it power. And it feels important to keep writing about this experience, far more important than letting that voice shit all over me.


That being said, I think it's appropriate that this is the next image in the series. This image was created in a sweet friend's koi pond. It looks so elegant and pure, but the reality is I was kneeling deep in pond gunk and fish shit. Feeling the muck sift around my body while the cold water chilled my joints, I felt myself drawn toward the touch of warm sun and soft breezes wafting through the trees around me. I thought, this must be what the lotus feels like. And this is what healing feels like. I was in a place with my therapy where I felt like a flower beginning to unfold. Feeling it in my body in this pond was just another manifestation of that. It's always a gift when these moments stumble into each other.


Because healing isn't all elegance and beautiful petals. It's the muck and fish shit too. And the muck is gross and cold and slimy, but it feeds us. Perhaps we wouldn't blossom the way we do without the muck. Perhaps I wouldn't be unfolding the way I am without all the muck of my experiences. I wouldn't be where I am without the mistakes I've made, without the pain and the anger. I don't know if I want to go so far to say that the muck is absolutely necessary. But I will say that the things that can grow out of the muck of life can be ridiculously beautiful. Myself included.


"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin