151129 Being Okay - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

For many years I haven’t considered my highest state to be a feeling of joy, accomplishment, or even happiness. When I’m at my best it’s a deep contentment that I simply know as being okay.

I used to think that being okay was how I felt when all of the stars of my life aligned, that it depended on having external factors balanced at their best. A little money in the bank, a clean home, something good in the fridge for dinner, and no pressing need to be anywhere or doing anything in particular at the moment. Time suspended in harmony and perfection.

I’m increasingly realizing that being okay is actually my fundamental state. It’s always there, even when it’s buried beneath the kipple and confusion that I habitually embrace. I can return to being okay just by choosing quiet and putting down the distractions that I mistake for my life.

My best parallel to being okay is the experience of love and being loved. It’s not like the euphoria of passion, the obsession of infatuation, the fantasy of romance, or the drive of lust. It’s love. It’s contentment. It’s quiet, enduring, deep, pervasive, and unremarkable. As with all things my awareness of it ebbs and flows, but it's always there, underlying. Accepting this is letting me be even more of myself than I’ve sometimes been in the past.

Being okay is the feeling of simplicity, spaciousness, and purity that I’ve started trying to capture in my photography. This is why these days a traditional subject, the thing itself, might be secondary to the impression and experience of taking or seeing the photo. Light, colour, shapes; relationships, nuances, subtleties. The more simply I look at what I see around me, the more wonderful and amazing it is.

I've long been drawn to pictures of nothing and to sound that isn't music. Now I'm appreciating something more behind it, and this experience of contemplative art is part of the ongoing expansion of being okayness in my life. It’s new and familiar all at once. It takes practice, but now I can remind myself that I'm okay, and genuinely mean it.


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