Tag Archives: Hula

See The Light, Molokai, Hawaii, Day 3

Perhaps it is because I am the youngest sibling in my family, or perhaps it was a habit developed later in life – but I must confess that I like to compete and I like to win. I thrive under pressure. It clarifies my mind better than any cup of coffee could by eliminating the unimportant. Whether it was climbing the Nose on El Capitan when I was 19 or being top of my class at Brooks, I always felt I had something to prove to myself, my family and my friends.

This week at the Hui, Dewitt has forwarded the following thought on competition “don’t prove, improve”. Don’t prove, improve – such a small shift of words, such a large shift of intent.

Yesterday afternoon I and 18 other photographers were shooting a hula halau on Molokai and I began to watch my process as I photographed. I know how to make a great picture of this scene. The competitive proving side of me begins to rise. But proving means I do what I always do – improving means I have permission to take a risk and potentially fail. I pause. Don’t prove Jonathan – improve. A weight is lifted off my shoulders. Permission to play, permission to experiment – granted…

Hula dancer, Molokai, Hawaii. (slow shutter)
Hula dancer, Molokai, Hawaii. (slow shutter)

Filling the cup

A hula dancer smells a lei of plumeria flowers on Molokai, Hawaii.
A hula dancer smells a lei of plumeria flowers on Molokai, Hawaii.

Something that really clicked for me yesterday was the idea that there are two ways to fill my cup.  I can fill it with external things like possessions, peoples approval and accomplishments – but these always seem to drain out quickly and I wind up on a never ending treadmill of trying to get more of them.  Or, as Dewitt says, I can fill the cup from the inside from a source that will never be depleted and will never exhaust me in its pursuit.  The source?  Love.  Love for my fellow man, love for my vocation, love for the 1/100 of a second in time when the light graces a lei of plumeria flowers transforming the moment into a banquet of joy.