Sometimes it feels to me that I am cycling through my life in a comfortable pace and watching events happen around me as if on a movie screen.
But every once in a while an opportunity for change and elevation shows itself and somehow because of being so comfortable on the bike, I choose to look away.
Change means risk, discomfort, letting go of what we know, learning to adapt to a new situation and deciding to take the steps towards it without seeing the end of the road. A journey towards the unknown.
Change takes courage, will and determination and ladders are not easy to climb but climb them we will.
‘The morning process’, how the day starts, what sets the tone for the rest of the day, how do we arm ourselves to handle what is planning to meet us on that day? For me, this time just upon waking is the most important of all.
Do you ever feel that you travelled to unknown places in the night and that you have to meet yourself again in the morning? I scan through my faculties in the early morning to do a check-in and see what is there that wasn’t the day before and what is no longer there that was, what feelings need to be dealt with and relegated and what strengths do I need to call onto myself that day to have balance and well being.
That extra hour is priceless for me and so necessary for checks and balances. We are constantly changing every moment on a cellular level and so is everything around us. It’s mind boggling. So the morning becomes a ceremony to look forward to, and over time I have grown to feel a sense of awe and inspiration upon waking, wondering what the day will bring from challenges to giftings.
The images above were taken in Shanghai on the Bund. It was always inspiring to see the locals at sunrise practicing Tai Chi, meditations, kite flying, fan and sword dances and to witness the atmosphere of calm and concentration before the day sped into chaos as it does in a metropolis of 30 million.
Wishing you a balanced day and a great start into this week.
This post today is about a life changing moment, one of those that we have at a certain stage of our lives and they end up lodging themselves in our personal history, refusing to fade into the dusty halls of our memories, and maybe just maybe they were more significant than we can imagine and they were meant to be with us forever.
One such moment was for me back in Lebanon at a very young age, maybe 8 or 9 years old. I found myself spiralling into a tunnel of thought about space. I was sleeping on our rooftop under a thin canopy of grapes on a warm summer night with my family; a huge treat and a special event whenever we were allowed to do that. I remember watching the stars glimmering in total darkness and wondering what was beyond them? Were we contained in a bubble of some sort? And how can I ever comprehend the possibility of nothingness if there is one? Everything is existing in something, isn’t it? What’s at the end of that?
These questions have taken me on a life quest of search, research, questioning and wonder. From religion, to quantum physics, to wise people’s writings and mostly my own search during those moments of quiet when the mind can travel towards space, inside of space and beyond space towards the unknown.
When I examine my days carefully, looking for moments of peace, of clarity, of calm and reflective processes, I realize that almost always, these are moments of being alone. I remember in my early twenties when I went to India for the first time and tried out a month long silence, the most surprising result of that was the realization that we are never really alone. So much goes on in our minds and faculty when we are alone, that we find ourselves able to understand ourselves so much better and to stand under the reality of our situation at any given moment. A day spent without any ‘me’ time is a day not enjoyed fully. I do not exaggerate when I say that I rarely ever feel lonely when I am alone. There is a huge difference between the 2 states. What is loneliness really? Could it be the fear of getting to know ourselves? I love my own company and have loved it since I was a young child. This makes me value time with others in a different way and in turn makes me more selective of who I share time with. It is such a valuable commodity in a most certainly mortal life.
One of my favorite things about big cities is movement. People moving, going places, coming from places, going up stairs, crossing roads, cycling, running, walking and playing a part in rotating the great metropolis wheel. It’s the urban magic waiting for us photographers on every corner.
Visiting the city we called home for almost 12 years is nothing short of strange at first. But within a day or two I felt the streets call me back with their charm, unique flair and warmth of the people. So little of the old city is left as the large construction projects drive forward leaving bits and pieces of the beautiful old alleys around the city. As I walk around and find huge empty lots and big buildings on the sites of my favorite alleys, I realize that all my photography over the years in Shanghai has been about recording history and vanishing alleys that are never to come back again…
There is a certain mystery and flair that is unique to Asia. It inspires and begs investigating. I created this image by merging these 2 photos: a statue from Angkor Wat in Cambodia and a girl in the rain in Shanghai, China. Their frequencies were similar and I was curious to see if they were complimentary.
In Hongkou, part of the old city of Shanghai, was a set of grey narrow alleys that were a maze of tiny streets containing 2 or 3 story homes stacked side by side in a most claustrophobic manner. Hundreds of tangled electric wires dangled between walls that were decorated with phone numbers advertising services for those who needed them. Water flowed down the streets and bikes and colorful laundry colored the otherwise shabby surroundings. In those sad alleys I met some very happy people. Their smiles instantly appeared when we met and stories were told that I only understood partly because of my poor grasp of Shanghainese but laughter was the largest part of the conversation. I just loved that place and I kept going back again and again to photograph until one day the residents announced that their neighborhood is condemned to demolition like so many other old Shanghai alleys. The last time I visited there were metal foundations of giant about to rise from the stories of these lovely people. I had to fight back tears seeing the ghosts of what used to be there and is no longer…